Moon Shadow is eight years old when he sails from the Middle Kingdom (China) to the land of the Golden Mountain (America) where he meets his father, Windrider, for the first time. In San Francisco, Moon Shadow and his father endure racist abuse from the natives, as well as derision from their fellow countrymen as they work to make their dreams come true.
Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.
This informational text describes the tide of new immigrants to the United States from southern and eastern Europe and Asia from the mid-1800s to the 1920s, detailing the struggle they faced due to cultural differences and racism.
Introduce this text after students have read Chapter 1 in order to provide context for the new immigrant experience in America. Ask students to contrast the experience of immigrants in the informational text with the stories Moon Shadow has heard about how Tang people are treated in The Golden Mountain (America). Why do students believe his grandfather was lynched in the land of the Golden Mountain? What were the reasons why thousands were once turned away? How would the text help you explain the way Moon Shadow is treated once he arrives in the Golden Mountain?
China’s first female historian Zhao Ban instructs women on proper behavior toward their husbands.
Share this text with students after they have read Chapter I, in order to help them contextualize the gender roles in Tang culture that are introduced through the relationship between Moon Shadow’s parents. Have students discuss what similarities and differences they notice between the expectations for how women are instructed to act in the text and their behavior in Dragonwings. What choices do Moon Shadow’s mother and grandmother make? What sacrifices have they made? What are their attitudes towards the Golden Mountain?
Learn about how two American brothers beat the odds, inventing and building the world's first successful airplane in this biographical text.
Pair Dragonwings Chapter 7 with “The Wright Brothers: Air Pioneers,” to provide students with some historical background on the Wright Brothers. Introduce this text before students read Chapter 7, and learn about the letter that Moon Shadow sends to the Wright Brothers. Ask students to discuss the challenges the brothers faced, their persistence, and the impact that their work has on the world today. Why is Moon Shadow inspired by the work of the Wright Brothers? What would the world look like today without the Wright brothers?
In Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic speech “I Have a Dream,” he discusses the state of racism throughout the nation and his hopes for freedom and equality in America.
Introduce this speech after students have read Chapter X and learned about the Tang’s treatment at the hands of the demon soldiers, and their resistance towards being pushed around. Pair Dragonwings and “I Have a Dream,” and ask students to discuss King’s vision of racial equality alongside the attitude of the Tang that remains in San Francisco and the fight for their right to rebuild on their old sites after the earthquake.
Anzia Yezierska (1880-1970) was a Jewish-American immigrant and novelist known for her writing on immigration, assimilation, and Jewish-American lives. "America and I" is Yezierska's short essay about her struggles adapting to her new country.
Anzia Yezierska (1880-1970) was a Jewish-American immigrant and novelist known for her writing on immigration, assimilation, and Jewish-American lives. “America and I” is Yezierska’s short essay about her struggles adapting to her new country. Have students read this memoir after completing Chapter X. Pair “America and I” with Dragonwings to help provide insight into the immigrant experience in America and assist students in their character analysis of the novel. Ask students to compare and contrast Windrider’s and Moon Shadow’s immigrant experience in America with Yezierska’s immigrant American experience. What similarities and differences can be drawn? On what basis are those similarities and differences established?
The Wright brothers, Orville (August 19, 1871 – January 30, 1948) and Wilbur (April 16, 1867 – May 30, 1912), were two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who are credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight, on December 17, 1903 four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. These published letters from Wilbur Wright give us insight into the amount of resilience, positivity, and inventiveness it took to succeed.
Have students read these letters after reading Chapter XI and learning about the correspondence between Windrider and the Wright Brothers. Pair Dragonwings to “Letters From Wilbur Wright,” and ask students to compare and contrast the fictional exchange between the Wright Brothers and the Lees, with the actual letters from Wilbur Wright.