Dinner Table Talks create the opportunity for families to have important conversations centered around books. These discussions will build our capacity for talking about race and define our roles in fighting against both everyday and systemic racism.
New Kid by Jerry Craft is an honest portrayal of the struggles of being in middle school, being the new kid and being one of only a few black kids in a school of predominantly privileged white kids. This graphic novel takes you on an illustrated journey of twelve-year old Jordan Bank’s seventh grade year, from the first day to the last, of being the new kid.
Recommended by Taelor Johnson | Children's Room Associate
Have you ever been the new kid? How did you feel? How were you treated by others?
Code Switching*--"When we walk into an unfamiliar social or cultural situation, our radar goes on high alert. Our minds must not just gather knowledge, but figure out “the code”—the relationships and communication norms of the people around us."
--"Countering the Narrative" written by Jason D. DeHart
Do you think being the new kid is harder or easier if you don't look like most of the other students? Do you think Jordan must code switch to fit in at RAD?
In Chapter Four, Jordan shares some “Tips for Taking the Bus.” Through his drawing, he shows us ways he changes to fit in at various neighborhoods:
Are there places where you feel you need to look a certain way to fit in? Why? At the end of his bus ride, Jordan says "Man! By the time I get to school, I'm exhausted!!!" Why do you think he's so tired from his ride to school?
In Chapter Seven, Jordan and his grandfather go out to eat and Jordan shares that he often spends his time with Drew or Liam but usually not at the same time. What do you think about his grandfather’s General Tso’s chicken and pepper steak metaphor? Are there friends in your life that you see separately from one another? Why?
In Chapter Eight, Jordan’s class goes to the school book fair. This part of the story explores how people can sometimes make assumptions about others or stereotype:
Has there ever been a time when you’ve felt someone judged you or someone you know because of how you look? How did that make you feel? Have you ever judged someone based on how they looked? How do you think that person felt?
Ms. Rawle often had difficulty calling Drew by the correct name and refused to listen to Jordan’s opinion about his school and struggle to fit in. Why was Ms. Rawle’s behavior so offensive and damaging? If you witnessed someone behaving the way Ms. Rawle did throughout the book, what would you do?
This Tedx video helps you understand why it's so important to call people by their name.
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Do you think adults should read this book? If so, why?
Want to continue the conversation? Need more resources about race?