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WALK IN MY SHOES: EXPLORING CULTURES IN AMERICA: Home

This website contains resources to support the study of multicultural literature for teens. It is a companion to a new Unified Arts course taught by Madge Klais at Akira Toki Middle School.

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WHAT THIS COURSE IS ABOUT

Akira Toki Middle School is introducing a new course to its Unified Arts program, "Walk in My Shoes: Exploring Cultures in America."  This course highlights literature for youth that has been created by and about people of color in the United States.  For the Spring 2013 semester, eighth-grade students will be examining the literature of Asian Americans, African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, and Native Americans, applying the experiences of fictional children and teens to their own self-perception and experiences growing up in 21st-century America.  We will confront questions such as:

  • How does our ethnic heritage help us understand ourselves?
  • What has been the history of specific ethnic groups in America?
  • How do we relate to people of different races and cultures?
  • How do adults decide what books are appropriate for children and teens to read?
  • What makes a good story "good"?

HOW THE COURSE BEGAN

American Born Chinese, a graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang, began our study of what it means to grow up in America if your family came from a country in Asia.  This book weaves together three stories, that of Jin Wang, Danny, and the Monkey King.  Jin Wang is a Chinese-American kid who feels rejected by his classmates.  Danny is an all-American teenager who is embarrassed by the appearance of his obnoxious Chinese cousin, Chin-Kee, and the Monkey King is a hero of Chinese folklore. 

We started by reading this challenging book together to discover what it feels like to be an Asian-American teen and to understand how the three different stories in American Born Chinese come together in a dramatic and satisfying conclusion.  We then explored how this book relates to our own experience of growing up in America.

INDEPENDENT READING FOR THE ASIAN-AMERICAN LITERATURE UNIT

Because there are many Asian countries and cultures that have enriched the mainstream culture of the United States, students have the opportunity to move beyond our introduction to the world of Chinese-Americans to sample the literature of other Asian-American groups.  They choose one book to read independently written for teens by an American author of Japanese, Korean, Indian, or Chinese descent.  To learn more about these distinguished authors, click on the link below:

Subject Guide

Library and School Information

LMC HOURS:  7:30-3:30

DRAMA CLUB IN THE LMC:  Wednesdays, 2:45-3:30

TOKI SCHOOL HOME PAGE

ABOUT THIS WEBSITE


This website supports our study of literature by and about four groups of people of color in the U.S. by providing links to authors, book reviews, and research tools and resources.  It is also a platform for displaying student work.  The website continues to grow and evolve as new "boxes," links, and student creations are added and revised.  Click on the purple tabs at the top of this page for a window into our work this semester.