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Teaching Cultural Sensitivity with The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family


Reading and social studies


1st through 3rd grade


Using the messages from this book, children will learn more about the cultural and personal differences that make each of us special. With this lesson, you'll enable your students to question prejudice and bullying as well as embrace new ideas. 




Copies of the book, The Proudest Blue, by Ibtihaj Muhammad. If this isn't covered by your budget, there's access to the book on YouTube.

Paper or cardboard and colors to design their own scarves.


The Proudest Blue is a story about two sisters. It's the first day of first grade for Faizah, and her older sister Asiya is wearing a hijab to school for the first time. Since children can have learned prejudices that often cause problems and unpleasant situations, this book can help you explain empathy and acceptance of people who are "different."


Either read the book together bit by bit while going through the rest of this plan or show the Youtube video in the same way.

ASK: What's your favorite color? 

Group them according to colors. Let them talk about why they like that one especially and what it makes them think of. Encourage the students to think of nature and comparisons with Faizah's comments.


1. Ask: Do you remember your first day of school? What did you wear? (If your students wear uniforms, Ask: Do you like wearing a uniform? What are the good and bad things about wearing one?)

Get them to talk about what was special about the day and what they wore.

2. Ask: What's your favorite tee shirt, dress, pants, or shoes? In groups, describe the clothing and talk about why they are favorites.  Help them understand that clothes can either set them apart or include them in a group.

3. Ask: Are all people the same? Again in a group, let them talk about it for a while. Ask if they think it might be boring if everyone looked and acted exactly the same. Point out that if we were all farmers or scientists or doctors or artists, we would miss out on all the other things in life. Ask if this would be good or bad and get reasons why.

4. Ask: Who were the bad kids in the book? Why were they in black and white instead of color? Talk to them about bullying. Delicately find out if any of them have been bullied or have bullied someone. Get them in groups or pairs and ask: Why do they think people are bullies? Is it ok? Do bullies make you feel bad when they make fun of you?

5. Do any of them have an older sibling, cousin, or friend? Do they want to be like them? Why? Is this a good idea? Why?

6. Ask: What is something your mom, dad, or grandparents tell you that you think is good advice? Get them to share with the other students and discuss. 


Ask them what they think of the story. Do they think people should be able to do what they want to do if it doesn't hurt others? Put them in two groups, those who say yes and those who say no. Write their reasons on the board and see if they can come to a compromise or agreement.


1. Stories of Standing Up

In small groups or pairs, they invent their own stories about being different and proud of it. This should bring some more comments about bullying. Help them understand that in the case of bullying, they need to stand up for themselves. They shouldn't give the bully the satisfaction of seeing you upset. Help the students understand that it isn't their fault. Explain the differences between a victim, a bully, and a bystander and why they should stick up for others.

2. Design Your Own Scarf

Allow your students to independently design a scarf that represents who they are. They could choose a favorite color or draw pictures of symbols that represent them. They can do it with paper and crayons or on computers or their tablets on a simple paint app. Remember to reserve for the students to share their final product with their classmates.

Written by Cathy Tomkinson
Education World Contributor
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