The Hermit and the Well

by Thich Nhat Hanh, Illustrated by Vo-Dinh Mai

Ms. Salyers' First Grade Classroom

A story of a boy in North Vietnam

A boy goes on a trip with his school to find a hermit who lives on top of the mountain. He runs past the beautiful trees and creeks, the flowers and sky line, missing all the glory of nature. He tires and he begins to search for water after the hermit is nowhere to be found. What he ends up finding is so much more than he ever expected.


Hermit- a person who has withdrawn from society to live a solitary, often religious life; recluse

Imagine- to form a picture in your mind

The Author, Thich Nhat Hanh

"Smile, breathe and go slowly." -Thich Nhat Hanh

Teaching Procedures

1. Engage- Play music below--> how does it make us feel? Is it something we've heard before? Do we like it?

2. Before reading, we will discuss different cultures. "Look around- do we all look the same?" Pause for students to observe each other, and tell me what they notice. "No, because we are all from different cultures. Some people are even from different countries. This is a story about a boy who lives in another country that is called Vietnam."

3. Segway into KWL chart- "What do we know about Vietnam?". "After looking at the cover, what do we want to learn about Vietnam and the boy who lives there?".

4. Introduce vocab words- hermit and imagine. Explain what a hermit is (see definition above) and why it's important to the story. Talk about what it means to imagine- ask students to imagine they are somewhere that relaxes them (this is what the boy does in the story) and share their relaxing places.

5. Ready story aloud. Ask students what they learned from looking at the pictures and from the story- add content to KWL chart.

"What was the boy in the story looking for?' "What did he end up finding?" "Was he happy to find it?"

6. Review KWL chart- we we knew, what we wanted to know, and what we learned from the story.

Vietnamese Buddhist Music (Phật Giáo Ca)


The book I chose, The Hermit and the Well by Thich Nhat Hanh, is about a boy in North Vietnam who goes on a field trip with his school. I decided to read this book because there is a student in my cooperating school that is from Vietnam, and the children in my class know the boy well. As soon as I said Vietnam they immediately started talking about him.

The strengths of this story are that it is very unique, and has a very good message. The children really enjoyed the music I used as my engagement- they atmosphere was very calm, and they were focused on me and the story. We CHAMPed our expectations, discussed our vocabulary words (“hermit” and “peaceful”) and did a KWL chart before we started the story. I was pleasantly surprised that they knew a decent amount about Vietnam, and the region in general. We then discussed inferring- I asked them about what they saw on the cover, and how it might relate to the story. They came up with some great questions for our “want to know” portion of the KWL, such as “What is the boy doing at the well?” and “Will he find the hermit?”.

The book is also beautifully illustrated, which really helped the students get into the story. We were also able to draw some comparisons to the children in story- they go to school, they go on field trips, they eat rice, etc.

If I had more time, I would have gone into some more background knowledge about Vietnam and its culture before reading the story. I was lucky that this class already knew someone from the country and was somewhat familiar with the culture.

Some of my earliest memories involved my pre-schools “heritage days”, where the parents would come in and talk about their respective cultures. This is when I lived in Ithaca, NY, which is fairly ethnically diverse, so my pre-school had children and families from all over the world. I firmly remember Anton, who was from Russia and said “Pruvyet!” when he said hello, and another family from Japan who taught us to say “Konichiwa”.

Because of these memories I feel a deep sense of commitment to cultural education, and implementing into my classroom. I want my students to be equally fascinated and respectful of different cultures. Implementing culturally and linguistically diverse literature will, hopefully, create a great respect and thirst for knowledge regarding other cultures.