Yang, Gene Luen., and Lark Pien. American Born Chinese. New York: Square Fish, 2008.Print.
American Born Chinese, by Luen Yang, opens a conversation about immigration in America that is frequently ignored. The root of this neglected conversation is: America destroys the identity of young immigrants. Immigrants in America are treated as outsiders. This treatment affects a young immigrant’s ability to accept his or her own identity.
In a NPR Books interview, Juno Diaz On ‘Becoming American,’ the author, Diaz shares his experience as a young immigrant in America. He explains his feelings of isolation growing up in New Jersey. He says,
“The solitude of being an immigrant, the solitude of having to learn a language in a culture from scratch lead me to the need of some sort of explanation, the need for answers, the need for something that would somehow shelter me lead me to books.”
This interview also highlights the significance of books and literature as a tool to create a conversation about current issues. Juno Diaz also states, “Books became the map in which I navigated this new world.” It is interesting that he refers to books as a map to discover a new place and to identify himself in a new community.
It would be interesting to use the idea of a book as a map to a new place in relation to immigration and American Born Chinese. I would teach American Born Chinese based on the narrative of a tragic hero and plot. In order to create an interactive lesson the students would need to understand the definition of a tragic flaw, a literary tragedy, a tragic hero, and plot.
After the graphic organizers are complete the students will present their work. At the beginning of each presentation the group presenting will draw a triangle on the white board and mark the events in the plot from the section they pick. This will give the rest of the class a visual understanding and help the group presenters outline their presentation. They will explain the pyramid they created to the class with the intentions of persuading the class that the chosen character is a tragic hero.
This assignment is designed to teach the students plot and literary tragedy. It is allows the students to practice collecting supportive evidence and form a summary and argument based on textual evidence. In addition, the students will become aware of the current issue of immigration and practice their presenting skills.