The Many Colors of Harpreet Singh has been a favorite read aloud as I’ve visited K-2 classrooms this fall. Harpreet is a school-aged boy who wears a small turban, called a patka, in the tradition of the Sikh religion. Harpreet changes the colors of his patka based on his mood – pink for celebrating, red for bravery, yellow for cheeriness. But when he moves across the country to a new school, he wears only his white patka, the one he uses when he feels shy and wants to be invisible. When Harpreet makes a friend in his new school, the colors return, as his world becomes colorful once again.
- This book is perfect for first graders learning to track how characters’ feelings change as the patka color Harpreet chooses so explicitly shows his mood.
- Readers have to really study the pictures at the book’s turning point to understand what Harpreet finds in the snow. I love using this as a teaching point with young readers who are becoming powerful enough decoders that they think they can skip studying a book’s illustrations.
- The endnote by Sikh scholar, Simran Jeet Singh, is a beautiful and simple introduction to Sikhism that is totally accessible for young learners.
- This book would be great to pair with My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss to further explore how colors show emotion.
Kids love the dialogue between Harpreet and Abby when they first meet. Second graders grew lots of big ideas about the lesson of the story:
- “When you’re feeling sad, a friend can help.”
- “He’s not just sad at his new school. He’s lonely.”
- “You can make new friends by being a friend.”