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June 2019

Summer Reading

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Summer reading has always been a time of freedom for me. No longer does the school course of study dictate what we read. We can pick up whatever book appeals to us in the moment! I decided to start my summer reading with Dragonwings by Laurence Yep. A fascinating title, right? It speaks of fantasy and adventure. This mysterious book kept popping up at book fairs but I couldn’t recommend it to a child because I didn’t REALLY know what it was about. That all changed today.

Dragonwings swept me away to the Middle Kingdom of China in 1903 where Shadow Moon lives on a small country farm with his mother and grandmother. They all terribly miss his father, who has been in working in the land of the Golden Mountain (California) since before Shadow Moon’s birth, seven years ago. It is full of beautiful descriptions of Chinese culture, stories, and the poverty which drove men to leave their wives and children behind to seek a better life in an unknown and somewhat fearful land across the ocean. When Shadow Moon is nine (or ten as the Chinese count it), his father sends Hand Clap, a cousin, to bring Shadow Moon to America and the adventure begins.

Dragonwings is a fictional account of what life was like for a Chinese boy in San Francisco in the early 1900s and through the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire which destroyed much of the city. It is an excellent book to use to talk to children about immigration as we watch Shadow Moon struggle but persevere through the fear of a new land and people, learn a new language and customs, and retain his own traditions while learning how to live in a land with new technology and practices. We watch Shadow Moon interact with hostile and friendly people among the “demons” (Americans) and the “Tang” (Chinese). We see how the love of family and friendship help him and his father accomplish their dreams. I hope you will check it out!

What book is the opener for your summer reading?