We Came to America Literature Guide

Grade Level: 
K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Native Americans
Social Awareness
by Faith Ringgold - A guide for parents, teachers, and group leaders to accompany the reading of this picture book. The guide below provides before, during, and after-reading discussion questions. Choose from activities and discussion questions to celebrate differences, learn about immigration, and appreciate the different ways people come to America.

In “We Came to America,” Faith Ringgold reminds us that America is made up of diverse groups from all over the world. She highlights Indigenous Americans who were here before others, as well as enslaved Africans who did not immigrate but were forced to come to America. Other groups came from every country in the world, bringing their Muslim, Asian, European, Black, and Hispanic cultures, religions and arts to create the America we know today. 

Literature Guide by Erica Saville

Before Reading

Ask: What does it mean to you to be an American?

Show: Look at the cover image. Do you see anyone who looks like the people in your family? Are you represented in the image?

Connect: Do you know where your family originated? What stories do you have about the countries and traditions in your family history?

During Reading

Ask: The line “every color, race and religion, from every country in the world,” is repeated in the book. Why do you think the author does this? What does it mean to you?

Show: The author highlights Native Americans, who “were already here before the others came,” and enslaved Africans who “were brought in chains.” Why do you think she shows these groups first? What is the importance of highlighting these special circumstances?

Connect: Music, dance, and fashion are some art forms mentioned in the text. What forms of art do you love?

After Reading

Ask: In what ways do our diverse backgrounds make America great for everyone?

Show: The back cover shows a group of American children with the line “we are ALL Americans.” What do you notice about the image?

Connect: There are several ways that people come to be in America. Do you know how long your family has lived here and how they arrived? Discuss the meaning of immigrant and the meaning of indigenous.


  1. The book ends with the text as a poem. Illustrate the poem in your own way and display it in your home, classroom, or community.
  2. Partner with a local charitable organization to support efforts for current refugees arriving in America. 
  3. Review the lesson Immigrants and Refugees from our Cultural Competency unit.
  4. Visit a local historical center to learn about the history of people in your community. Look for things in the community that honor these groups.