Park, L. S. (2004). When my name was Keoko. New York: Dell Yearling.
Historical Fiction : Elementary-Middle School
I was surprised in how much I liked this book. I really didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did. I listened to an audio version, and each chapter switched off from brother to sister. I do wonder had I not of listened to the book like that would I of been able to follow as easily? If I were to read this with my class I would probably want to make sure we are keeping the characters in check, because I could see the switching off getting confusing after a while. Besides that the book was amazing. Even though the books characters were fictional, it doesn’t mean the history was. This was a great book to introduce the impact of war, the people, the crops, the education system, it really brought you into the culture of Koreans that were under Japanese rule. You could feel the fear when soldiers would do checks and then the joy when Tae-yuol was back home.
As I had mentioned the point of view would switch from chapter to chapter, from sister to brother, mostly the sister though. The story takes place in Korea in the 1940’s during a time when they were under the Japanese rule. The Koreans lose their culture and are forced to learn Japanese traditions. This impacted what they learned, how they learned, they even had to change their Korean names to Japanese names. I would say the theme of the book was to never forget your culture.
When reading this book with my class I would like them to keep a reading journal and write down something new they learned from every chapter. Before the book I think it is important to discuss WWII and ask the students what their previous knowledge is. Also another approach would be to ask them about culture and what does it mean to them, how would they react to their culture being taken away? While reading the book I think it would be good to reflect back on the previous questions, and see if the students are making connections. At the end of the book I would like students to name who they identified the most with, if any and why. I could connect this book to almost any disicpline from social studies to art. I think my objective would be for students to develop universal values and behaviors necessary for promoting a culture of peace.
- How do roles for boys and girls differ in this time and place?
- How do Sun-hee and her family secretly preserve their culture? Why is this so important to them?
- Why do you think the author chose to use young adults to narrate instead of adults?