Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker

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It is Grandparents Day at Zura's elementary school, and the students are excited to introduce their grandparents and share what makes them special. Aleja's grandfather is a fisherman. Bisou's grandmother is a dentist. But Zura's Nana, who is her favorite person in the world, looks a little different from other grandmas. Nana Akua was raised in Ghana, and, following an old West African tradition, has tribal markings on her face. Worried that her classmates will be scared of Nana--or worse, make fun of her--Zura is hesitant to bring her to school. Nana Akua knows what to do, though. With a quilt of traditional African symbols and a bit of face paint, Nana Akua is able to explain what makes her special, and to make all of Zura's classmates feel special, too.

Targeted Vocabulary:

  • Nana - another name for grandmother
  • Tribal - a group of people with similar traditions and ways of living
  • Regal - something that is royal and proud
  • Expert - someone who has a lot of knowledge and skills in a certain subject
  • Veterinarian - a doctor for animals

Resiliency Skill/Theme

  • Have you ever felt afraid of something you thought would happen. but it didn't happen? What did you learn from that?
  • Zura was not excited to bring her Nana Akua to school, because she was afraid that the other children would make fun of her tribal markings. Zura learned that she didn't need to be afraid, because the children and parents enjoyed meeting her Nana.


Check out Literacy Lunch with Lee for free English lessons--new videos are focused on the featured interactive read-aloud.

Today a reader.

Tomorrow a Leader.

Margaret Fuller.

American Journalist, Critic, and Womens' Rights Advocate