In Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, the main character loves her unique name until she goes to school, where she is embarrassed and bullied about her 13-letter moniker. Chrysanthemum never stands up for herself; only when a beloved teacher celebrates her beautiful name does Chrysanthemum beam with pride and gain the favor of her peers. I would read the story first, then lead students into a discussion using Audre Lorde’s quote about self-expression and having the courage to stand up for oneself. We would then engage in a revision of this story, either written or oral, in which Chrysanthemum takes Audre Lorde’s advice.
Level: Elementary English/Language Arts
Subject Area: American Literature
Author: Tiffany Heitman