Teaching Resources

Student reading outside Lassen Hall

In tandem with developing a shared reading and conversational experience for students, the One Book Program also encourages a collaborative teaching community. Learn more about the themes and experiences described in the book.

For resources that go beyond the book, including discussion questions, classroom resources, links, and cultural resources, please contact onebook@csus.edu

If you create an assignment that proves to be effective for your class and would like to share it, please send it to onebook@csus.edu. We'll post it among the resources below!

For FYS instructors, please check your SacCT Instructor Source Page for the First Year Seminar Teaching Resource: Girl in Translation.


Other Links and Resources

Here are a few links and discussion questions to get you started in developing your classes and lesson plans. If you come across other helpful links, please send them to onebook@csus.edu so that we can add them to the list!

 

Discussion Questions

1. Throughout Girl in Translation, the author uses creative spelling to show Kimberly’s mis-hearing and misunderstanding of English words. How does the language of the novel evolve as Kimberly grows and matures? Do you see a change in the respective roles that English and Chinese play in the narrative as it progresses?

2. The word translation figures prominently in the title of the novel, and learning to translate between her two languages is key to Kimberly’s ability to thrive in her new life. Does she find herself translating back and forth in anything other than language? Clothing? Priorities? Expectations? Personality or behavior? Can you cite instances where this occurs, and why they are significant to the story as a whole?

3. Kimberly has two love interests in the book. How are the relationships that Matt and Curt offer different? Why do you think she ultimately chooses one boy over the other? What does that choice say about her? Can you see a future for her with the other boy? What would change?

4. In many ways Kimberly takes over the position of head of household after her family moves to New York. Was this change in roles inevitable? How do you imagine Ma feels about it? Embarrassed? Grateful? In which ways does Ma still fulfill the role of mother?

5. Kimberly often refers to her father, and imagines how her life might have been different, easier, if he had lived. Do you think she is right?

6. Kimberly’s friend Annette never seems to grasp the depths of Kimberly’s poverty. What does this say about her? What lesson does this experience teach Kimberly? Is Kimberly right to keep the details of her home life a secret? 

7. Kimberly believes that devoting herself to school will allow her to free her family from poverty. Does school always live up to her expectations? Where do you think it fails her? How does it help her succeed? Can you imagine the same character without the academic talent? How would her life be different? What would remain the same? Is Kimberly right to believe that all of her potential lies in her talent for school? Must qualities like ambition, drive, hope, and optimism go hand in hand with book smarts?

8. Think about other immigrant stories. How is Kimberly’s story universal? How is it unique? How does Kimberly’s Chinese-American story compare to other immigrant stories? Would it change if she were from a different country or culture?

9. Kimberly lives in extreme poverty. Was anything about her circumstances surprising to you? How has reading Girl in Translation affected your views of immigration? How can you apply these lessons in your community?

10. The story is set in the 1980s. Do you think immigrant experiences are much different today? What has changed? What has remained the same?

Question provided by Jean Kwok


Weblinks

Resources available at the University Library
  • Library Information and Resource Guide will be available soon
  • Multiple copies of the One Book are available through the University Library.

For more information

The following sites contain further information. The One Book Program does not necessarily endorse, support, or disagree with any of the sites included below. They are provided only as a point of departure for your own research as you prepare your classes. 

 

Accessibility

Girl in Translation is available in accessible formats. Please contact the High Tech Center of Services to Students with Disabilities (SSWD) at 916-278-7915. Please note that SSWD is only able to give access to alternative media for the One Book under certain conditions. Students must be registered with SSWD and be approved for alternative media accommodations at the High Tech Center. The student will need to provide proof of purchase. For more information, please contact SSWD at sswd@csus.edu or (916) 278-6955 or (916) 278-7239 (TTY) for assistance.

The One Book is also available through the University Library. You may also purchase the book at the Hornet Bookstore and through major booksellers.


Jean Kwok Bibliography 

Compiled by Eileen Heaser, the University Library

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