The Joy Luck Club: Biography

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Share the lessons of love, loss, and family bonds with the first of ten lessons on The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Before beginning the novel, readers listen to a 28 minute podcast narrated by Dana Gioia, which addresses the historical context and various events throughout the story. They take notes and present the three most important points from the podcast. Then, they divide into groups and read two attached essays about Amy Tan and Chinatown. After presenting what they have learned in the essays, they write a short story about an event in their parents' lives. For homework, they read the first two chapters of the novel.

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Classroom Considerations

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  • Podcast is rich and informative, and includes contributions from historian John Kuo Wei Tchen, actress Ming-Na, authors Molly Giles, James McBride, and Charles J. Shields, literary critic Carolyn See, Amy Tan's half sister (about whom a character from the novel is based), and Amy Tan herself. 
  • Lesson provides extension activities, such as focusing on one contributor's perspective
  • You can work on the activities during one class period, or break the lesson up over several days
  • Short story assignment is a great way to teach kids interview skills when learning about events from their parents' lives

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