About the Book
Grace is a girl who loves to hear stories and then act out the most exciting parts. Grace learns that her class is about to stage the play Peter Pan, and she knows just which part she wants to play. But, when she raises her hand to try out for the part of Peter, Grace's classmates tell her she can't play the part because she's a girl and because she's black. With encouragement from those who love her most, Grace manages to land the part of Peter, and in doing so, proves that she is able to fly above limitations imposed by others.
Ask the children to talk about their favorite pretend games. Do they play different pretend games when they are together than when they are alone? Tell the class that this book is about a girl named Grace who loves to pretend that she is the characters she reads about in books.
Ask the class to talk about what kind of girl they think Grace is. Is she the type of girl they'd like to know and play with? Why or why not? When Grace's classmates told her she could not play the part of Peter Pan because she was black and because she was a girl, Grace didn't seem bothered by their words and she still tried out for the part. But, once she was home, she told her family how upset she was. What does this tell us about the kind of girl Grace is?
Watch Peter Pan
Have the class view the video film of Peter Pan starring Mary Martin as Peter Pan. Point out to the class that the role of Peter Pan is being played by a woman. Encourage children to discuss whether they think that these parts should always be played by a boy? Why or why not? (Students might be interested to learn that hundreds of years ago, all the roles in Shakespeare's plays, for example, were played by men — even the roles of women — because women weren't allowed to be actors.) Why does the class think that Grace wanted the role of Peter? Have the students imagine which parts they would each like to play and tell why.
Create “Caring Manuals”
Have the students examine the illustrations involving Grace's family. From the faces on the characters of Ma and Nana, and from the way these two women are shown relating to Grace, (hugging her, holding her hand, playing with her), have the students imagine how Grace's family members feel about each other. Have the children take turns describing simple ways to show caring for friends and family. (Stress that showing we care needs not always involve traditional gift-giving.) Then, have each class member make a list (or a series of illustrations) depicting ways they show they care for others (i.e., family members or friends). Suggest that children use their lists and illustrations to create “Caring Manuals” containing ideas for showing that they care. Have children share their manuals with the group. How many separate ideas was the class able to generate? Consider recording these (as a constant reminder to care) on a display chart in the classroom.