Most of the time, we hear that society, culture and family play a big role in shaping our identities, which is true, but... how many times is our identity shaped by the history of the country we live on and we don't know about it?
This book really defines the importance of knowing, understanding and listening to your surroundings. The easiest example to understand is how Trevor Noah blends in with different people, white, black, mixed, etc because of his knowledge and ability to communicate with everyone. His understanding of cultures and languages helps him navigate a society that has purposefully instigated hate amongst each tribe to separate them. This quote from Nelson Mandela, mentioned in the book, stood out the most: "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." I truly believe the book is filled with a message of communication, understanding and love.
"Born a crime" presents historical information about South Africa that the average reader wouldn't know about, but most importantly it makes the connection of the purpose behind the Apartheid government and the founding principles of the United States. Everything he explains happened in South Africa I can see happening here, in a lesser degree maybe, or better disguised.
So... that is one aspect of the book that I find worth exploring and for the sole purposes of talking about identity, communication and importance of cultures and languages I believe most chapters of this book are worth exploring in a classroom setting.
There are other topics being discussed in this book, one of them being domestic abuse. Towards the end of the book these descriptions become more vivid and they might be triggering for some children. I do find important to address a conversation about toxic relationships and emotional health, but I would definitely check in with my students before reading some of this chapters.
I so believe Trevor Noah has great advise and provides a lot of insight about the struggles of a minor dealing with the toxic relationship of parents at home. In his book, he says "Growing up in a home of abuse, you struggle with the notion that you can love a person you hate, or hate a person you love. It's a strange feeling. You want to live in a world where someone is good or bad, where you either hate them or love them, but that's not how people are". This quote really portrays the emotional struggle that many children experience and do not know how to express.
We are taught to see things black and white, and we are not taught to express our emotions using detailed words. Often we are limited to use "I'm good" or "I'm ok" when someone asks how we are doing, and it's very rarely that students say "I'm energized" or "I am restless" or "I am grateful". Just as much as we teach students to read and write academically, we have to also teach them to express themselves about their own feelings.
I do think this is a great book, and I recommend all teachers to read it before trying to incorporate it into the classroom. I also think that social studies teachers could use different chapters of this book to incite discussion about the similarities of authoritarian governments across the world.
I hope this review is helpful and I really hope you read this wonderful book. Happy Reading!
- Un abrazo
Welcome to Jime's Book Reviews. Each month I read a different novel and I write about it. Some of these novels are great for the classroom and, if they are, I will give you tons of tips on how to incorporate them in your classroom. If they are not, I will tell you not to use them!