Watercress


I saw this book many times and although I loved the cover I didn't pick it up for several months. When I finally did, I was so blown away by the concepts it covers in its few short pages. This book can be used to help students understand how assimilation can begin, how internalized racism can take hold and how honoring family experiences is a piece of the healing puzzle. This is a fantastic resource for Social Emotional Learning and a beautiful autobiographical mentor text.
-Dena

Social Justice Activities:

  • Explore how race and class intersect in this story.

  • Explore Assimilation. Use other texts on this sight to deepen understanding: The Most Beautiful Thing, When We Were Alone, Nana Akua, Drawn Together, Your Name is a Song, We Are still Here.

  • Create Social Emotional Learning lessons about empathy with this text. The girl says, "My Mom never talks about her family in China." Discuss how sometimes for the adults we love, the past is too painful to talk about and when our elders do talk about their past, we should listen carefully. Explore how authentic empathy requires listening and accepting lived experiences that we may not have had.

Relevant Social Justice Standards:

Diversity 9. Students will respond to diversity by building empathy, respect, understanding and connection.

Diversity 10. Students will examine diversity in social, cultural, political and historical contexts rather than in ways that are superficial or oversimplified.

Justice 12. Students will recognize unfairness on the individual level (e.g., biased speech) and injustice at the institutional or systemic level (e.g., discrimination).

Justice 14. Students will recognize that power and privilege influence relationships on interpersonal, intergroup and institutional levels and consider how they have been affected by those dynamics.

Reading Strategies:

Character Analysis:

  • The girl says, "My Mom never talks about her family in China." What does that tell us about the mother?

  • What is it about the food that the girl doesn't like (mud, snails, not from the grocery store)? What does that tell us about the girl and what she thinks is "normal" in their culture. Evaluate the irony- most fresh food comes from mud and involves bugs.

Narrative Writing: This text autobiographical and can be used as a mentor text for narrative writing in fifth grade and up.

Theme: Discuss what the last page tells us about the theme of the story. Teach about intergenerational healing.


Book Details:
  • Autobiographical, All Ages
  • Perspectives: Chinese Immigrants
  • Author's stated heritage: Chinese-American
  • Subject Integration: Social Emotional Learning, Art (Watercolor), Geography

Book covers images are from publishers and in the public domain