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Born a Crime: Home

Reading guide for the class of 2023 Summer Read, Born a Crime, by Trevor Noah.

Reading Guide

As you read (or listen to) Trevor Noah's book Born a Crime this summer, please keep the 5 questions below in mind. The questions are meant to help guide you as you read the book as well as prepare you for the conversations we'll be having when we start school in the fall. While you don't need to formally answer these questions, it may be helpful to jot down some notes, ideas, and questions as you read the book.

To further prepare for the book discussion, highlight passages that make you curious, or write down compelling ideas on stickies.

Identity

“Since I belonged to no group I learned to move seamlessly between groups. I was a chameleon, still, a cultural chameleon.”

How does he create a racial identity for himself in the context of growing in South Africa? How did reading this book shape your own understanding of how race works in your town/school/family? 

Trevor's Mother

“My mom did what school didn't. She taught me how to think.” 

How does Trevor's relationship with his mother impact the reading of this text?

 

Social Class

“The first thing I learned about having money was that it gives you choices. People don’t want to be rich. They want to be able to choose. The richer you are, the more choices you have. That is the freedom of money.” 

What role does social class and family wealth play in Trevor Noah’s life? How did he negotiate his family’s financial situation and how did it shape him as a person? What role does your own socioeconomic status play in how you view the world? 

Gender

“The way my mother always explained it, the traditional man wants a woman to be subservient, but he never falls in love with subservient women. He’s attracted to independent women. “He’s like an exotic bird collector,” she said. “He only wants a woman who is free because his dream is to put her in a cage.” 

How is gender presented in this book? What are some key understandings that readers can take away this text?

Religion

“If you're Native American and you pray to the wolves, you're a savage. If you're African and you pray to your ancestors, you're a primitive. But when white people pray to a guy who turns water into wine, well, that's just common sense.” 

Religion plays a key role in this text. How does Trevor Noah both critique and honor faith traditions, religious institutions and his personal beliefs?