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Asian Stories Book Club #1: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Newbery Award)

Alaina Bell Gao
Rising Star
Average rating:4.9Number of reviews:(403)
Meet with book club friends and discuss the first book in Grace Lin's book series in a new way, with a look at Chinese culture, geography, mythology, and history to learn about ancient and modern China and literary analysis over five weeks!

Class experience

US Grade 4 - 7
Ontario English Language Arts Standards

1.1 read a variety of texts from diverse cultures, including literary texts (e.g., short stories, poetry, myths, culturally focused
legends, plays, biographies, novels) . . .

1.2 identify a variety of purposes for reading and choose reading materials appropriate for those purposes (e.g., an online
or print encyclopedia article for background information, dictionaries to clarify word meanings, biographies for information about authors or historical figures, print and online newspapers/magazines for information on current issues, e-mail and text messages from friends)

1.3 identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them appropriately before, during, and after reading to understand texts (e.g., activate prior knowledge through asking questions about or discussing a topic; develop mind maps to explore ideas; ask questions to focus reading; use visualization to clarify details of a character, scene, or concept in a text; make predictions about a text based on reasoning and related reading; reread to confirm or clarify meaning)

1.4 demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by summarizing important ideas and citing supporting details (e.g., . . . theme and supporting plot details in short stories, myths, and fairy tales)

1.5 use stated and implied ideas in texts to make inferences and construct meaning 

1.6 extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them 

1.7 analyse a variety of texts, both simple and complex, and explain how the different elements in them contribute to meaning and influence the reader’s reaction


2.4 identify various elements of style – including foreshadowing, metaphor, and symbolism – and explain how they help communicate meaning and enhance the effectiveness of texts 


1.3 gather information to support ideas for writing, using a variety of strategies and a range of print and electronic resources

1.6 determine whether the ideas and information they have gathered are relevant, appropriate, and adequate for the purpose, and do more research if necessary (e.g., review material with a partner using a mind map or timeline) 

2.6 identify elements of their writing that need improvement, using feedback from the teacher and peers, with a focus on specific features (e.g., effective use of language, logical organization)

American English Language Arts Standards

Quote accurately from a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

Determine a theme of a story, drama, or poem from details in the text, including how characters in a story or drama respond to challenges . . .; summarize the text.

Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.

Conduct short research projects that use several sources to build knowledge through investigation of different aspects of a topic.
Homework Offered
The students must read the chapters before class to be ready for the book club and prepare for the discussion by answering homework questions each week. There is only reading (no other homework) before the first class. Week 1 - Chapters 1 to 9 Week 2 - Chapters 10 to 20 Week 3 - Chapters 21 to 28 Week 4 - Chapters 29 to 38 Week 5 - Chapters 39 to 48
2 - 4 hours per week outside of class
Assessments Offered
Grades Offered
Each learner must obtain a copy of "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" by Grace Lin. All versions, including digital ones, are welcome.
In addition to the Outschool classroom, this class uses:
While this novel is overall a gentle modern adventure celebrating the importance of culture, storytelling, family, and friends, there are a few elements that could be challenging for sensitive readers.

1. There are clues that characters in Minli's village are fighting against starvation (Ba's hands shaking as he gives up his last few grains of rice and children fighting over mud food). The purpose of this setting is to push the main character out on an adventure to transform their lives.

2. A young girl leaves home to embark on a potentially dangerous journey by herself without telling her parents. She does leave a note.

3. The Magistrate Tiger character is corrupt, scheming, and criminal. He tries to change his son's fate and achieve his own goal of having him marry into the imperial family by having his son's intended wife killed. Unbeknownst to him, she survives and is adopted by the king. Later, she still fulfills the son's fate, although the son is different from his father and is kind. The magistrate tries to take other matters into his own hands, too, including double-taxing a village for ten years unjustly and leading a band of soldiers to destroy a village (although they have moved to safety before he arrives).

4. The monkeys are entirely greedy and tie up Dragon without remorse. They are shown to be foolish and entitled.

5. The green tiger attacks Dragon and injures him. It is not fatal, since the villagers jump in with medicine. The book celebrates helping others, even if they are strangers.

6. The green tiger requests child sacrifices for perceived wrongs, although he is shown to be an entirely evil character and no children are sent.

7. Many villagers are injured by the green tiger but they find medicine to heal everyone.

8. Several children tackle tricking the green tiger alone without their guardians knowing. They are successful, but there is a pattern of children successfully solving major world problems and doing it without adult help or supervision.

Finally, we will be using Kahoot in this class to review the contents of the story each week. The Kahoot app may be needed for this (game codes will be provided to type in), but the questions will also be shared on the screen and learners could just answer in the chat box or on a paper (without the final scores to enter the competition).
Rising Star
Average rating:4.9Number of reviews:(403)
Hi! My name is Alaina Bell Gao, and I am an experienced Canadian English teacher with 15+ years of professional teaching experience. As a dedicated, creative, gentle, and patient neurodivergent teacher, many neurodiverse learners thrive in my... 
Group Class


weekly or $100 for 5 classes
1x per week, 5 weeks
50 min

Completed by 52 learners
Live video meetings
Ages: 9-13
2-6 learners per class

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