Tangled Threads: A Hmong Girl's Story
by Pegi Deitz Shea
Recommended by: Jane Herbst, Babylon Jr.-Sr. High School, Babylon Teachers Association
Suitable for: Grade 8
Why I chose it: Besides the fact that cultural diversity is always a need, the main character must decide whether she wishes to "lose" her learned behaviors to fit in with the Americanized cousins. It is a great way to view a female character who is learning new behaviors, as the eighth-graders are when moving to high school.
How teachers can use this book: In addition to giving a different perspective to the Vietnam War era (studied in social studies in Grade 8), this story of a Laotian coming to America from a Thai refugee camp addresses social issues such as cultural diversity (when her cousins who have been in the U.S. for five years meet Mai, the clash of old and new practices is interesting to students who now examine their lives), and the actions and values of Mai's grandmother, Mai and her cousin Heather are great discussion starters for ethics questions.
What I like best: The writing is from the perspective of a 13-year-old girl, with all the confusion inherent in meeting new situations and not having guides to rely upon.