Identifying a story’s conflict and resolution is an important reading skill we want our students to develop. After all, the conflict is at the heart of the plot, and the character’s actions, feelings, and behaviors are often tied to it. When I teach this skill, I like to do a deep dive with students to analyze how the story’s conflict impacts the plot, the characters, and the theme.
The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family is a beautifully written and illustrated book by Ibtihaj Muhammad and S.K. Ali. Sisters Asiya and Faizah are off to their first day of school. Asiya is proudly wearing a beautiful, new blue hijab, which represents beauty and strength to the girls. However, other students react to Asiya’s hijab with questions and unkind actions. Faizah doesn’t understand how they see it so differently. She watches Asiya with concern, but Asiya simply turns and walks away. Faizah recalls her mother telling them to “drop” the hurtful words of others, and she too walks away. The girls head home at the end of the day, with Faizah fantasizing about the day she can wear her own blue hijab. Identity, courage, and family are important themes in this book.
The author, Ibtihaj Muhammad, wrote this based on her own experiences as a young girl wearing hijab to school for the first time – and unfortunately, the bullying she endured. As a member of the United States fencing team, she made history as the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing for the U.S. team at the Olympics. This is definitely something to share with students!
We typically choose stories with obvious problems and solutions when we teach conflict and resolution. But it’s also important for students to practice this skill with stories where it’s not as evident. For some students, the conflict and resolution in The Proudest Blue will be harder to identify.
To go beyond just naming the conflict and resolution, I make sure to pose questions that will get students thinking about their effects. How do the characters handle the conflict? What character traits do they demonstrate? How do they grow or change? What can we take away from the resolution? How does it connect to the theme of the book?
- Show students the front cover and the front endsheets. What do you already know? What are you wondering?
- What could the “proudest blue” mean?
- What is the conflict in the story? Which character(s) does it affect?
- How do Faizah and Asiya react to the conflict?
- Why are some of the characters illustrated with dark colors?
- What do their mother’s words mean? What does it mean to drop others’ words?
- Was the conflict resolved? How? How else could this story have ended?
- What does the resolution tell us about Asiya and Faizah? What character traits did they display?
- Think about the conflict and resolution. What message do you think the author wants us to take away from this book?
- What do you think the “proudest blue” means now? Why is this phrase important to the story?
I also recommend having a conversation about kindness and respect. Handling conflict the way the characters did is hard for young kids, so this is a good place to discuss how students can handle similar situations.
Mentor Text Resource
Use this free resource to support a class discussion of the conflict and resolution in The Proudest Blue. Click here or on the picture to download!
If you love this story, here a few related books that you might want to check out:
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