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Teaching Multicultural Literature : A Workshop for the Middle Grades
Workshop 1 Workshop 2 Workshop 3 Workshop 4 Workshop 5 Workshop 6 Workshop 7 Workshop 8
Workshop 1: Engagement and Dialogue
Overview
Authors and Literary Works
Video Summary
Teaching Strategies
Commentary
Student Work
Resources
General Resources
Authors and Literary Works
Teaching Strategies
Additional Resources
Interactive Workbook -- Explore two poems using strategies from these workshops. Go.
Channel-Talk -- Share your views on the discussion board. Go.

Works By and About Author

Julia Alvarez
Gish Jen
Tina Lee
Khoi Truong Luu
James McBride
Lensey Namioka
Naomi Shihab Nye

Julia Alvarez

Works by the Author
Listed below are selected works by the author.

    Alvarez, Julia. Before We Were Free. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2002.
    Adolescent Anita de la Torre must face her fears and flee a dictatorship with her family.

    ---. Finding Miracles. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2004.
    Milly Kaufman is adopted and taken out of a war-torn country. This novel tells the story of Milly's journey to find her identity, and how she tries to reconcile what she learns with what she knows.

    ---. How the García Girls Lost Their Accents. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin, 1991.
    Four sisters flee the Dominican Republic and adjust to life in the United States in this series of stories told in reverse chronological order.

    ---. How Tía Lola Came to Visit Stay. New York: Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2001.
    When Miguel's Aunt Lola comes from the Dominican Republic to help his family in Vermont, Miguel learns to appreciate her different views and lifestyle.

    ---. In the Name of Salomé. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin, 2000.
    This novel tells the story of revolutionary Salomé Ureña, the Dominican Republic's national poet at age 14, and the contrasting story of her daughter Camila, who dedicated her life to teaching Spanish at Vassar College in New York.

    ---. In the Time of the Butterflies. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin, 1994.
    In this fictional version of history, Alvarez tells the tale of the Mirabel sisters through their adolescence, adulthood, and involvement in the Dominican Republic's revolution.

    ---. "I Want to Be Miss América." In Something to Declare, 37-44. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin, 1998.

    ---. The Woman I Kept to Myself. Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin, 2004.
    Alvarez's collection of poems explores themes of cultural difference in her personal experiences.

    ---. ¡YO! Chapel Hill, N.C.: Algonquin, 1997.
    In this follow-up to How the García Girls Lost Their Accents, Yolanda García, her friends, and her family members take turns narrating the story, which paints a vivid picture of Yolanda and her experiences as an immigrant in the United States.

Further Readings About the Author

Books

    Authors and Artists for Young Adults. Vol. 25, ed. Thomas McMahon. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998.
    An entry about Julia Alvarez offers biographical information as well as information about her works and career.

    Notable Hispanic Women. Book 2, ed. Joseph M. Palmisano. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998.
    This article discusses Julia Alvarez's experiences growing up and coming to the United States, as well as some of her works.

Web Sites

Periodicals

    Barak, Julie. "'Turning and Turning in the Widening Gyre': A Second Coming Into Language in Julia Alvarez's How the García Girls Lost Their Accents." MELUS (Spring 1998):159-76.
    This critical analysis of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents connects Alvarez's stories with her own expereinces.

    Hall, Catharine. "Bilingualism and Identity in Julia Alvarez's Poem 'Bilingual Sestina'." MELUS (Winter 2003):125-43.
    Hall discusses the role of bilingualism and identity in Alvarez's writings.

    Rich, Charlotte. "Talking Back to El Jefe: Genre, Polyphony, and Dialogic Resistance in Julia Alvarez's In the Time of the Butterflies." MELUS (Winter 2002):165-82.
    In this critical analysis of In the Time of the Butterflies, Rich describes the techniques used by Alvarez to provide insight into the personal and emotional lives of the Mirabel sisters, the historic figures on whom the novel is based.

Gish Jen

Works by the Author
Listed below are selected works by the author.

    Jen, Gish. The Love Wife. New York: Knopf, 2004.
    Carnegie Wong marries Janie, whom Mama Wong refers to as "Blondie." When his mother dies, Carnegie and Janie think no one else will interfere with their marriage until a "cousin," whom they believe Mama Wong sent from her grave, comes into their lives.

    ---. Mona in the Promised Land: A Novel. New York: Vintage, 1997.
    Mona Chang deals with the trials of adolescent life while also negotiating the cultural conflict between her Jewish faith and Chinese heritage.

    ---. Typical American. New York: Plume, 1992.
    When three immigrants come to the United States after the Communist Revolution of 1948 in China, they pursue the American dream, battling personal obstacles and familial tensions along the way.

    ---. "What Means Switch." Atlantic Monthly (May 1990):76-80.

    ---. "The White Umbrella." In Home to Stay: Asian American Women's Fiction, ed. Sylvia Watanabe and Carol Bruchac. New York: Greenfield Review Press, 1990.
    This story depicts the experiences of two sisters at their piano lessons on a rainy day.

    ---. Who's Irish?: Stories. New York: Vintage, 2000.
    In this series of short stories, Jen writes about the illusion of the American dream and the realities faced by people of many different backgrounds.

Further Readings About the Author
Books


    Lee, Rachel C. The Americas of Asian American Literature: Gendered Fictions of Nation and Transnation. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.
    Lee critically analyzes the works of Asian American writers, including Gish Jen, to show the relationship among nationality, ethnic identity, and gender.

    ---. "Gish Jen." In Words Matter: Conversations with Asian American Writers, ed. King-Kok Cheung, 215-32. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2000.
    This collection of interviews with 20th-century Asian American writers features an interview with Jen, who discusses the themes of her writing and her image as an Asian American writer.

Periodicals

    Furman, Andrew. "Immigrant Dreams and Civic Promises: Testing Identity in Early Jewish American Literature and Gish Jen's Mona in the Promised Land." MELUS (Spring 2000):209-36.
    In this critical article about identity, Furman examines the interplay among perceptions of ethnic identities, inherited identities, and multiculturalism, looking to Jen's book, Mona in the Promised Land, for examples.

    Lee, Don. "About Gish Jen." Ploughshares (Fall 2000):217-22.
    Gish Jen shares her experiences growing up Asian American and becoming a recognized author.

    Matsukawa, Yuko. "MELUS Interview: Gish Jen -- Asian Perspectives." MELUS (Winter 1993):111-20.
    In this interview, Jen describes her motivations and influences as a writer and discusses her novel Typical American and her short story "What Means Switch."

    Satz, Martha. "Writing About the Things That Are Dangerous: A Conversation With Jen." Southwest Review (1993):132-40.
    In Satz's interview, Jen discusses her novel Typical American, as well as issues of race, ethnicity, gender, and education.

Tina Lee

Works by the Author
Listed below are selected works by the author.

    Lee, Tina. How to Ride Roller Coasters.
    In this play, Lee compares her experience dealing with her father's illness to the ups and downs of a roller coaster.

    ---. My Mom Across America. In Echoes Upon Echoes: New Korean American Writings, ed. Elaine H. Kim and Laura Hyun Yi Kang. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003.

Further Readings About the Author

Periodicals

    Pucci, Anthony. "Echoes Upon Echoes: New Korean American Writings -- Young Adult Review." Kliatt (January 2004):27.
    Pucci discusses the anthology Echoes Upon Echoes, and singles out Tina Lee's work, My Mom Across America.

Khoi Truong Luu

Works by the Author
Listed below are selected works by the author.

    Luu, Khoi Truong. "Family Ties: Exploring the Lighter Side of the Vietnamese American Experience." In Once Upon a Dream: The Vietnamese American Experience, ed. De Tran, Andrew Lam, and Hai Dai Nguyen, Riverside, N.J.: Andrews McMeel, 1995.

    Luu, Khoi Truong, Barbara Tran, and Monique T.D. Truong, eds. Watermark: Vietnamese American Poetry and Prose. Philadelphia: Asian American Writer's Workshop and Temple University Press, 1998.
    This collection of works is by and about first- and second-generation Vietnamese Americans.

James McBride

Works by the Author
Listed below are selected works by the author.

    McBride, James. The Color of Water. New York: Riverhead, 1996.

    ---. Miracle at St. Anna. New York: Berkley, 2002.
    In this story set in World War II Italy, McBride writes about four soldiers from the U.S. Army's 92nd all-African American division who are trapped between two enemies, the German Army and their racist American officers, and who encounter miraculous phenomena in their plight.

Further Readings About the Author
Books


    Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 35, ed. Ashyia Henderson. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2002.
    An article about James McBride includes biographical information as well as critical information about his works.
Periodicals

    Base, Patrick Henry. "First Person Singular." Essence (February 1, 2002):82.
    This short article provides a summary of James McBride's Miracle at St. Anna.

Web Sites

    African American Literature Book Club: James McBride
    http://authors.aalbc.com/jamesmcbride.htm
    This Web site includes a biography, reviews of McBride's books, and a transcript of an interview with the author.

    James McBride
    http://www.jamesmcbride.com/
    Author and musician James McBride's personal Web site includes information about his work, links to interviews and articles, and audio clips from his musical recordings.

Lensey Namioka

Works by the Author
Listed below are selected works by the author.

    Namioka, Lensey. "All-American Slurp." In Visions, ed. Donald Gallo, 35-41. New York: Delacorte, 1986.

    ---. April and the Dragon Lady. Orlando, FL: Harcourt/Brace, 1994.
    As 16-year-old Chinese American April Chen struggles to define her identity, her white boyfriend and her decision to apply to mining college come in direct conflict with the values and expectations of her more traditional Chinese grandmother.

    ---. An Ocean Apart, a World Away. New York: Delacorte, 2002.
    This novel tells the story of Yanyan, a 16-year-old girl from China who overcomes obstacles to study at Cornell University in the United States. When she falls in love with a young Chinese diplomat, she must make the difficult choice between marriage into a life of travel and adventure and staying at school to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor.

    ---. Den of the White Fox. Orlando, FL: Harcourt/Brace, 1997.
    In this blend of historical fiction and mystery, two samurai enter a village to find that the villagers are uneasy and untrusting and that a powerful spirit may haunt the area.

    ---. Half and Half. New York: Delacorte, 2003.
    This is a story about Fiona, half Scottish and half Chinese, and her struggle to find her true identity.

    ---. The Samurai and the Long-Nosed Devils. Boston: Tuttle, 2004.
    In 16th-century Japan, samurai protect two foreigners who are being harassed by the warlord's enemies.

    ---. Ties That Bind, Ties That Break. New York: Delacorte, 1999.
    Set in the early 20th century, this novel tells the story of Ailin, a young Chinese girl who breaks with such traditions as foot binding and arranged marriage, and whose courage enables her to lead an unconventional life as an independent Chinese woman.

    ---. Valley of the Broken Cherry Trees. Portland, OR: Blue Heron, 1995.
    Two unemployed samurai try to discover who is defacing cherry trees in this story that depicts 16th-century Japan and its political unrest.

    ---. White Serpent Castle. Boston: Tuttle, 2004.
    Two samurai explore the mystery of a lord's daughter who threw herself into a castle's moat and changed into a serpent.

Further Readings About the Author

Web Sites


    Lensey Namioka's Web Site
    http://www.lensey.com
    Lensey Namioka's personal Web site gives information about her books as well as her personal life.

    McGuire, Paul. "HK International Literary Festival: Lensey Namioka." Asian Review of Books (March 9, 2003).
    http://www.asianreviewofbooks.com (see Archives: 09/03/2003)
    This article discusses Namioka's unique style of writing and the ways she brings her personal experiences to her stories.

    Wakan, Naomi. "Lensey Namioka." Paper Tigers (July 2003).
    http://www.papertigers.org/interviews (see Archives: Lensey Namioka)
    Naomi Wakan summarizes an interview with Lensey Namioka and discusses her childhood, immigration, education, and writing.

Naomi Shihab Nye

Works by the Author
Listed below are selected works by the author.

    Nye, Naomi Shihab. Different Ways to Pray. Portland, OR: Breitenbush, 1980.
    Nye's first collection of poems explores similarities between different cultures.

    ---. Habibi. New York: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, 1997.
    Liyana and her Arab American family move to Jerusalem, where Liyana falls in love with a Jewish boy, Omer, and faces tensions between Palestinians and Israelis.

    ---. "Half-and-Half." In Fuel. Rochester, N.Y.: BOA Editions, 1998.

    ---. Hugging the Jukebox. Portland, OR: Breitenbush, 1984.
    In Nye's second collection of poems, she explores the perspectives of ordinary people from different countries.

    ---. Mint Snowball. Tallahassee, FL: Anhinga Press, 2001.
    The short narratives in this collection describe Nye's encounters with a variety of people, from cab drivers and small-town restaurateurs to fellow travelers.

    ---. Never in a Hurry: Essays on People and Places. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.
    A series of essays that reflect on the people and places Nye has come across in her life.

    ---. 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East. New York: Greenwillow, 2002.
    In response to the events of September 11, 2001 and the effect they had on people of Arab descent, Nye gathered her poems about the Middle East and being Arab American in this collection.

    ---. The Space Between Our Footsteps. New York: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, 1998.
    More than a hundred poets from the Middle East are represented in this collection, along with some paintings.

Further Readings About the Author
Books


    Contemporary Authors: New Revision Series. Vol. 70. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 1998.
    This book offers information and critical writings about Naomi Shihab Nye and her works.

    Contemporary Women Poets, ed. Pamela L. Shelton. Detroit: St. James Press, 1997.
    This volume offers biographical and bibliographical information about Naomi Shihab Nye, as well as a critical essay about one of her works.

Web Sites

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