Books and Big Ideas: Not Quite Snow White

MARCH 1, 2021

Nightingale was delighted to kick off the month of February with our second installment of Books and Big Ideas, our enrichment series for Lower School parents and their children.

As a part of our Books and Big Ideas series, members of our Lower School team lead conversations about a book that centers around a specific value, and then model the types of conversations that would occur in a Lower School classroom at Nightingale. Using children’s literature as a jumping off point for a potentially larger discussion can be a helpful tool for parents and children alike.

This session focused on the values of identity, representation, and self-acceptance and the book of the hour was Not Quite Snow White by Ashley Franklin with illustrations by Ebony Glenn. Head of Lower School Rebecca Urciuoli welcomed families and emphasized the importance of books and reading as a part of the Nightingale experience, especially when approaching conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion and exploring other aspects of social-emotional learning. She also emphasized the importance of expanding your own library and diving into the new conversations that occur as a result.

Director of Diversity and Equity Johara Sealy helped to break down why identity and representation are so important in the books we read. “An exploration of identity is very important for you all because it gives you the language to acknowledge and affirm who you are...Representation is also very important and that is the idea of seeing people who look like you in the stories you read.” Embracing those values at Nightingale, helps to teach students to value difference as a source of strength and means of growth, which is an essential component of our mission.

Before the read aloud began, Lower School Librarian Megan Westman reviewed some best practices when reading picture books and things to look out for in the upcoming story. A helpful tip right from the start is to think about reading picture books “with,” as opposed to reading picture books “to.” In this way, you invite both yourself and your child to share your reactions, responses, and feelings to what you’re reading. Paying close attention to the illustrations is also recommended as it can often tell us things that aren’t explicitly said with words. Some core questions to always return to are: “What do you notice?” and “What do you wonder?” She also encouraged the grown-ups in the room to make note of feelings or thoughts that come up that may inspire more “grown-up reading” on their part.

Not Quite Snow White tells the story of Tameika, a little girl who loves to dance, sing, and perform. When her school posts an audition notice for Snow White, she can’t wait to try out for the lead role. That is, until she hears her classmates whispering that she’s “not quite right” for the role because of what she looks like. With her confidence crushed, she questions whether she could in fact ever play a princess. Her parents quickly remind her that she’s “just enough of all the right stuff” to be a princess. The next day when she steps onto the stage to audition, with her parents’ encouragement in the back of her mind, she is overcome with the joy of performing and knocks it out of the park, as she lets her true self shine.

Following the read aloud, families met in breakout rooms to discuss the questions below and then returned to the main room to share their key takeaways, questions, and things they were still wondering about.

  • How does Tameika feel when she hears her classmates whispering and snickering about her wanting to be Snow White?
  • At the end of the story, Tameika realizes that she is “just enough of all the right stuff.” What do you think this means?
  • In your opinion, why did the author write this story? What did she want to teach us?

Thank you to all of our Lower School families who joined us for our second session of Books and Big Ideas focusing on identity, representation, and self-acceptance. We look forward to our next evening read aloud and welcoming even more families to join in the discussion.