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Celebrated Children’s Author Joanna Ho Visits RLS Students for AAPI Heritage Month

In observance of Asian-Pacific American (AAPI) Heritage Month (May), Stevenson hosted a virtual visit from celebrated children’s author Joanna Ho. 

Ms. Ho, who identifies as Chinese and Taiwanese, is a New York Times bestselling author who wrote Eyes that Kiss in the Corners, a children’s book that features an unnamed young Taiwanese girl as the protagonist. In Eyes that Kiss in the Corners, the narrator begins the book by envying the big, round eyes of her friends. However, she goes on to notice the beauty in the eyes of her beloved family members—which are shaped like hers—and she learns to embrace the parts of her that reflect her heritage and also make her unique and beautiful. The book is a story of self-love and acceptance.

Ms. Ho spoke with both lower and middle division students and upper division students in three multi-grade level presentations.

Before her visit, teachers on the Carmel campus were given common group activities to complete with their classes to help students mine Eyes that Kiss the Corners for meaning, and to find ways that the story felt applicable to their lives. Some of these activities included:

  • Celebration of Self: Reading other books about self-love, then writing or drawing about aspects each student loves about their own heritage or family.
  • Lyrical Language: Discussing evocative language and metaphor as descriptors, then exploring how to describe one of their own body parts with creative language.
  • Family Histories and Stories: Reading other stories on family love and varied family structures, then writing about their family’s history or unique structure.
  • Rhythm and Repetition: Noticing and discussing the use of rhythm and repetition in Ms. Ho’s book, then writing a narrative that uses repetition for effect.
  • Aesthetic exploration: Discussing the physical layout and depiction of interiors in Ms. Ho’s book, then exploring the portrayal of interior design in other books.
  • Asian and Asian American Children’s Literature: Reading and exploring other children’s literature in the classroom library featuring Asian and Asian American characters, or books that were written by Asian American authors.
  • Addressing Stereotypical Representations: Talking about stereotypical representations of Asian people in Children’s books in the past, then contrasting those with how Ms. Ho’s book affirms the beauty and brilliance of characters rather than portraying a stereotype.

Ms. Ho’s virtual visits to all three divisions provided students with an opportunity to explore more AAPI literature to mark the month. It also afforded them an opportunity to hear from and speak with an author and educator who passionately advocates for racial inclusivity and representation in children’s literature. Ms. Ho has another illustrated kid’s book, Playing at the Border: a Story of Yo-Yo Ma, scheduled to be published in Fall 2021.