Define “From”

Chants of, “send her back,” accusations of “invasions” and “infestations,” have all become a part of our political narrative. While none of this is new, the outspoken and “everyday” nature of these messages seems significant. Children hear this language and see its effects on a daily basis. While some of it might be difficult for them to understand, they are probably able to identify the intent behind these messages.

The picture book Where Are You From? written by Yamile Saied Méndez and illustrated by Jaime Kim, starts with a little girl being asked where she is from. She responds, “I am from here, from today, same as everyone else.” This answer is apparently not satisfactory and her inquisitors ask, “No, where are you really from?”

The little girl asks her abuelo and he gives her many answers to this question– none of which include the name of a specific place. It turns out that the little girl’s family can be traced back to all kinds of places and people. Gauchos who grazed cattle, mountains which were home to wild animals, beaches where hurricanes roared, and women who searched for missing relatives after conflicts. Finally, he says, she comes from his heart, and the love of all of the generations that came before her. Isn’t that where we all want to come from?

How does one answer the question, “Where are you from?”? That might depend on the intent behind the question. Is it being asked because the questioner wants to know where we grew up or because they do not believe we look like we “belong”? We should all have the opportunity to share and learn about our ancestry, but I hope one day that we all can answer, “I am from here, from today, same as everyone else” and that this will be accepted. In the end, it is the absolute truth.

Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards:

Identity 3: I know that all my group identities are part of me- but that I am always ALL me.

Common Core Standards:

RL.3- Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.

RL.4- Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.

RL.7- Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.


Published by socialjusticeinchildrenslit

My name is Leah Cole and I was a teacher in Iowa for nine years. My passions for education, social justice, and children's literature led me to create this blog. Students are faced with issues of justice and fairness from the time they are very young. The Social Justice Standards developed by Teaching Tolerance help teachers to support the development of students who recognize and embrace their own identities while respecting and valuing those who are different. In this blog, I will attempt to identify and review books that support the social justice standards.

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