We recently read Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai for my local homeschool book club. My goal for this book group is to expose the kids to stories of brave and heroic children from around the world in stories based on true life events (with a fantasy novel thrown in every now and then).
This novel is written in short, precise poetry like prose. The protagonist Ha, recounts her life in Vietnam with her mother and brother, their frightening escape and subsequent settling in Alabama (where even more adventure awaits).
Based on the author's real ice experience of fleeing Vietnam, we were immediately drawn in to the story and read through quickly.
Both in my family and in the club meeting we talked about what it might be like to be a refugee, what we knew about the Vietnam War, the foods that are etched in our memories, and how we would tolerate the type of bullying Ha put up with. We located Vietnam on the map, watched documentaries about the current life of Vietnamese children and learned more about the war and our family connections to it.
Ha longed for fresh papaya and in her honor we ate one as a group. My kids were given papaya seedling from a friend which they planted in the back yard. We also bought and tried dried papaya which figures in a disappointing episode of the story.
My family took a field trip to the Vietnamese enclave in Orlando and spent time browsing the ethnic grocery store and having a Vietnamese lunch with noodles, pickled lemonade and bubble tea.
We love reading novels together and find them to be a major source of learning and inspiration. Literature forms a substantial base of our homeschooling and learning together. The characters and their stories become like close friends to us and we find ourselves referring back to them often, as well as making really interesting connections between all the characters we have known.
Does your family read aloud? What are some of your recent favorite books?