Posts filed under ‘Asian-American Authors’

115. Tea With Milk by Allen Say

tea with milkRetell: Masako is a Japanese-American who moves to Japan after spending her childhood in America.  Adjusting to life in Japan is rough for Masako.  She must repeat high school in order to learn Japanese, her classmates call her gaijin (a derogatory word for ‘foreigner’), and she must learn how to be a proper Japanese lady.  One day she boards a bus for Osaka and finds work, a companion and a cure for her homesickness.

Topics: English, Japanese-Americans, homesickness, culture shock, matchmaking, individuality

Units of Study: Character, Social Issues, Personal Narrative, Memoir

Tribes: right to pass

Habits of Mind: taking responsible risks, thinking flexibly

Reading Skills: inference, interpretation, prediction, empathy

My Thoughts: I especially enjoy Tea With Milk because I have a personal connection to this book.  I taught English for three years in a rural village in Japan.  I can relate to May and her struggle to get used to sitting on the floor (women are expected to sit on their knees–it’s considered rude to sit cross-legged) and missing comfort foods.  When I read this book I thought of my students who often visit the countries where their parents are from and experience an identity crisis similar to the one that May faced.  I hope that this book inspires them to write their stories.  Though this is technically a personal narrative (the main character was the author’s mother) you could angle this to fit in many different units including the current Character unit.  It’s particularly useful for modeling how readers notice subtle changes in a character.

October 19, 2009 at 8:54 pm Leave a comment

17. Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say

Grandfather's JourneyRetell: Allen Say tells the story of how his grandfather made a home in both a village in Japan and in a city in America.

Topics: grandparents, journeys, San Francisco, Japan, World War II, California, travelling, home, being homesick, family

Units of Study: Memoir, Social Issues

Reading Skills: envisionment, interpretation, inference, making connections

Writing Skills: adding setting details, developing the heart of a story, including reflection, including endings that connect to the beginning

My Thoughts: I think I have a soft spot in my heart for this book because I too get homesick for more than one place.  Allen Say’s illustrations remind me of faded photographs and automatically put me into a reflective, sentimental mood.  This is a perfect text to use during the Memoir unit.  Though it starts out as a story about his grandfather, it ends up being more about the author himself.

July 13, 2009 at 9:00 am Leave a comment


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