Where have you been on Tuesdays at noon?
We have been in the library for Read Aloud Tuesdays!
Since early November, the intermediate students and I have been reading Inside Out and Back Again by Thannha Lai. We come in, take our shoes off, find a comfy place to sit and relax for 30 minutes of reading time.
This book is told in verse and relates the story of Ha, a 10 year old Vietnamese girl who is forced to flee her beloved Vietnam when Saigon falls at the end of the Vietnam War.
With her father off at war and not heard from, the family decides the best thing they can do to survive is leave for America.
They end up in Alabama, where Ha and her family slowly adjust to life in a very different country, where she is treated with open hostility from the other children at school and neighbors near them.
Her poems are achingly true to life and capture the anguish of leaving home, learning a new language and the anger she feels during this transition time.
As each week passed, we often stopped and spontaneously discussed historical references and questions we had. Questions were free flowing and the answers weren’t always easy to explain or understand, as any question about war can be. Still Thannha helped us appreciate the beauty of her Vietnamese homeland…and of papaya!
Ha’s love of papaya was woven through the novel like a golden thread. Since most of us had never tasted or even seen a papaya, we had some for our last reading.
I have never bought or cut up papaya before, so it was a completely new experience for me! The inside has lots of round brown seeds. It almost looks like caviar! Then the fruit is a reddish-orange color and sweet. Our papaya wasn’t completely ripe, so it probably didn’t taste as wonderful as it should. Still, we had fun trying it out to see why Ha liked it so much!
It was a sweet and fitting ending to a very special book! Now we have a new decision to make. What should our next Read Aloud Tuesday book be? If you have an opinion, leave a comment and let me know!