Red Kite, Blue Kite

multicultural read aloud

"Red Kite, Blue Kite" written by Ji-li Jiang and illustrated by Greg Ruth was published by Disney * Hyperion in 2013.

Prepared for fourth graders.

In "Red Kite, Blue Kite" Ji-li Jiang explores the strong emotions and hardships that families faced during the Cultural Revolution in China. When "the bad times come" father and son are forced to be separated halting their love of flying kites together. Ji-li Jiang and Greg Brush take the readers on a journey of the strong connection a family can have.

"Red Kite, Blue Kite" attracts to the readers due to many effects. Some of which being, the unique language exploring the rich cultural details and the appealing format of endearing quality. In the opening sentences Ji-li Jiang opens it up with descriptive words describing the city in China such as "crowded, streets are skinny, tippy-top of our triangle roof." Ji-li Jiang leaves nothing to the imagination of what 1960's China would look like. She also writes of the feeling the father and son feel when flying their kites. "We are free, like the kites." It's almost as if she is foreshadowing as to what might come. Not only does Ji-li Jiang portray strong descriptive language portraying cultural details but Greg Ruth adds to the books appealing format with colorful pictures. Greg Brush captures the true endearing qualities of the father and son with the conclusion of the book


Ji-li Jiang bases her book "Red Kite, Blue Kite" from the experiences of a family friend who suffered during the Cultural Revolution in China. She states that "despite the darkness that kept them apart, their kites always flew, and their love never stopped."

She also gives a short description of what China during the 1960s & 1970s look liked. "The leader of the country, Mao Zedong, ordered all citizens to condemn and eliminate anything that did not meet the "revolutionary standard" so that China would not stray from the Communist path. People went crazy. Temples were destroyed. Classes were halted. Teachers and principals were beaten in front of their students. Houses were ransacked and personal belongings confiscated. Millions of people were labeled enemies of the country and then humiliated, tortured, and even killed."


1. Pre Reading

-First I would introduce the book to the children telling them the title, author and illustrator. I would also tell them we are going to talk about the book, read it and do some activities over it.

-I would also set my expectations for the book. I would first ask them what they think their expectations are during a read aloud. I would tell them that I expect them to be respectful when reading the book also participating during instruction.

-Prior to beginning the discussion I would have them either get out scratch paper or provide them with white boards.

-I would first ask them to look at the cover and think in their heads what they hypothesize the book might be about. After they had a moment to think I would ask them to write on their paper their thoughts. Once every one was done I would have them share with the class. I would also make sure that they discuss the setting perhaps modeling the location on a map.

-I would also ask them if they knew what a kite was. We would discuss the various aspects to kites. They fly threw the air attached to a string. There must be wind for the kites to fly. It has to be in a clear area in order to not get tangled.

-I would also ask them to think in their heads what they perceive the little boy is doing. Then I would have them explain their thoughts on a paper sharing with their table partners as I walk around and listen. We would then come back together and discuss our thoughts.

During Reading

After reading the line "My city is crowded, and the streets are skinny" I would ask them to look at the picture and determine in their heads what the word crowded means. I would then have them draw what they think crowded looks like. Coming back together I would ask someone to share their explanations and drawing with me.

After reading the line " The kites hop and giggle as they rise and dive, soaring and lunging together." I would ask them to use the context clues to interpret the word lunging. What would it look like? What would be a synonym and antonym? I would have them draw it on their paper or white boards then coming together to share.

After reading about the bad times I would ask them to explain why would people go around smashing things and searching houses? As a group we would discuss the questions. I would explain to them how the leader of China at that time wanted to eliminate anyone that did not conform to the Communist path. I would also ask if they knew what Communist was, if not I would elaborate.

After reading about the kites Baba and Tai Shan fly I would ask them to consider why flying the kites in two different locations was important to Baba and Tai Shan. Writing on their paper and sharing with the class.

After reading "but he escaped and ran all the way here" I would ask them to interpret why Baba ran away writing it on their paper. After they had finished we would share as a class.

After reading

Once we had finished the book I would point out the line "we are free, like the kites" at the beginning of the story and then "they are free, flying everywhere" at the end of the story. I would then ask the students what could be the connection between Baba, Tai Shan and the kites. What might the author be trying to distinguish? After giving them a few moments to think I would have them quick write on their paper then sharing with the class. As they share I would be walking around to make sure the know the main idea. I would be listening for a student to call on that got the main idea to explain to the class.

I would make sure that the students realize that Baba and Tai Shan are like the kites. At the beginning of the story he feels like they are free like the kites until the bad times come. Then at the end of the story they are able once again to be free flying their kites, hopping and giggling, soaring and lunging.

Once we had finished the book I would tell that them we are going to be learning two vocab words lunging and labor camp. I will put them into groups each with lunging graphic organizers and labor camp organizer. As a group the must complete both organizers though some will have lunging and some with labor camp. One group will be filling out the graphic organizer using the "Red Kite, Blue Kite" book. The other group will be using a dictionary to fill theres out. The last group will be using one computer to research the word online.

Once they have finished their graphic organizers we will come back together and discuss. After we reviewed the graphic organizer students will be instructed on a game/activity. The students will hold cards up to their heads without ever looking at the card. They will have to walk around the room and find other students who fall into their vocabulary word. The cards will contain synonyms, antonyms, pictures, definition, sentences of the vocabulary words. Once they have formed their two groups we will review and see if they were correct making corrections if need be.

-To finish up the lesson we would play a game of whip around tossing an object around in which they must say anything they learned during the lesson whether from reading or the vocab words.


1. Why was this particular book selected? How did it “match” the funds of knowledge of this particular class/group of students?

I chose this book based on the cover. It contains a little Asian boy gazing off in the distance with kites. Because my students some of my students are Asian I though this book would appeal to them. The book also portrays the relationship of a father and son that are separated. I thought this would appeal to students who are from other countries that may have left family behind. I knew that my students have little background knowledge of other countries let alone their history. I though this book would push them to a higher level of thinking and understanding.

2. What were the strengths of the read aloud/the picture book/vocabulary teaching presentation?

I felt like I did a really good job of effectively demonstrating reading strategies. Before we began reading I asked them to examine the cover and hypothesize what they thought the book would be about. I also stopped many times throughout the book for discussion either in a whole group or in partners. This book also addressed issues that allowed the students to have higher level thinking.

3. What would I need to do differently next time?

I feel that the actually reading of the book took me much longer than I had planned. Perhaps I asked too many questions or had them think pair share too much. However on the flip side I do not feel that I demonstrated effective wait time. Also for the graphic organizer I did not scaffold. My teacher had mentioned that some students may not understand that they are to put the vocab word where is says "word". Also she suggested that some students may not remember what a synonym or antonym are. However I feel that all the students were able to properly complete the organizer. So perhaps this lesson pushed the students one step further in their learning.

4.Respond to the following open-ended statement: Implementing multicultural

children’s literature that is culturally and linguistically diverse relative to my elementary students has helped me…

understand that, myself as the teacher, can learn other cultures by elaborating on a multicultural read aloud allowing me to provide my students with knowledge that targets not only other cultures but also different skills for reading and vocabulary.