The Runaway Wok

By: Ying Chang Compestine

About the Book

"The Runaway Wok" written by Ying Chang Compestine, and illistrated by Sebastia Serra, was published in 2011 by Dutton Children's Books, and has a Lexile level 750.
This read aloud is planned for second graders. "The Runaway Wok" is a picture book about a talking wok who tries to help a poor family prepare for the Chinese New Year festivities in Beijing. This book reminds students of the importance of generosity.

"The Runaway Wok" discusses the tradition of Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year has been celebrated for more that 4,000 years! It originated in China and today is celebrated all over the world in areas where there is a large Chinese population. The originas of the holiday can be traced to the story of Nian, a wild beast who attacked a village on New Year's Eve. The monster would hurt people. The villagers discovered that Nian did not like the color red, loud noises, or bright lights. The villages set of fire crackers and painted their doors red to keep the beast away. Today, Chinese New Year is a way for families and friends to get together to share wishes of good luck and prosperity for the coming year. It is the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar. The color red is used to symbolize good luck.

THE AUTHOR:
Growing up in China, Ying Chang Compestine always had a passion for writing. As she grew older she realized she also had a passion for children. She became a teacher, and loved her job, but never stopped writing. Author Ying Chang Compestine is now a best-selling children's writer, and has written many best sellers such as "Secrets of a Terra-Cotta Soldier", and "The Story of Noodles." She has also written Chinese cook books.

Instuctional Sequence:

Intoduction:
"Last week, I read "A New Year's Reunion", and we discussed the ancient Chinese tradition of Chinese New Year. We talked about how it is the biggest festival of the whole year, and for some, it is the only time of year when they get to spend time with their families. We compared Chinese New Year to American holidays, like Christmas and Thanksgiving. Did you know that Chinese New Year has been celebrated for more that 4,000 years?! It originated in China and today is celebrated all over the world in areas where there is a large Chinese population. The origin of the holiday can be traced back to the story of Nian. Nian was a wild beast who attacked a village on New Year's Eve. The monster would hurt people. Soon, the villagers discovered that Nian did not like the color red, loud noises, or bright lights. So, the villages set of fire crackers and painted their doors red to keep the beast away. Today, Chinese New Year is a way for families and friends to get together to share wishes of good luck and prosperity for the coming year. It is the most important holiday in the Chinese culture. The color red is used to symbolize good luck."
1. "Today I am going to read you a book called "The Runaway Wok." Show the cover of the book to the class, and allow them a few seconds to examine it. "By looking at he cover, and reading the title, "The Runaway Wok", what do you think this book is going to be about?" Call on two students with hands raised. "Look at the picture on the cover of the book, the runaway wok, hmmmm...what do you think a wok is?" Model the critical thinking skill of inferring for students. Call on a few students to give responses. "Let's read the first page, and see if we find out..."
2. Read aloud to the class, the first 2 pages. "Now, do you think you know what a wok is?" Allow a couple student responses. "A wok is a bowl-shaped frying pan that is used in Chinese cooking. They use it to cook foods like fried rice, and pork dumplings."
3. "Ming traded his mother's last few eggs for a rusty old wok, with no handle. Do you think Ming's mother is going to be happy with him? If you think Ming made a good trade, give me a thumbs-up, if you don't think it was a good trade, give me a thumbs-down." Ask one child with thumbs-up, "Why do you think it was a good trade?" Validate response. "Let's keep reading and find out!"
4. Read next 2 pages aloud to the class. Ask class, "Where do you think the wok is going?"Do not call on students. "Let's keep reading..."
5. Read the next 7 pages aloud to class. Ask class, "If you had all the toys that Lan has, would you share with your friends, or would you keep them all for yourself? Raise your hand if you would share with your friends. Okay, now raise your hand if you would share with your friends." Allow students to time to choose.
6. Read next two pages aloud to class. "Ming chose to share all the toys with his friends and family, unlike Lan, who wanted to kept them all for himself. We call this being generous. (second vocab word) Someone who is generous enjoys giving to others or sharing with others. Everyone say it with me, GENEROUS."
7. Read next page to class. Ask class, "Do you think Mr. Li is honest, or dishonest?" Allow a couple students to respond with answer, and why they think that.
8. Read next page aloud. "Ming shared all the toys, his mother served all the food, and father divided up all the gold coins evenly among the other families. They didn't have to do this. The Zhang family could have shared half, and kept the other half for themselves. What is that word we talked about earlier? That means a person who enjoys giving to others?" Call on a student with their hand raised.
9. Finish reading the rest of the book aloud to the class. "What do you think the moral of the story is?" Call on a few students, asking them how they came to that answer. "Those are all very insightful answers, maybe the moral of the story is that it is better to be generous with your friends and family, than to be selfish, and have no one to play with."

Activity:
"Now we are going to do a short activity. Remember that word we talked about GENEROUS? Remember, we said that it was used to describe a person who ENJOYS giving to others, and sharing with others? Well, I want you to think about a person in your life, that you know, that is generous. It could be a family member, or it could be a friend, or a classmate...just think of one person who you think is a generous person." Model for students, "I am thinking of my friend Liz, because she is always doing things for other people, like volunteering at the homeless shelter. I'm going to give each of you a small piece of paper. It says, 'someone I know that is generous is ______', and I want you to write the name of that person you have been thinking of in the blank. That GENEROUS person. When you are done, I want you to line up quietly in front of me with your piece of paper. We are going to make a "Generosity Chain." Each of these pieces of paper are going to become a link in the chain, and when we are done, we will have a colorful reminder of the importance being GENEROUS!"
As students come up, have each say the complete sentence, "Someone I know that is generous is _____", followed by an short explanation of why they chose that person.

Reflection:

I chose "The Runaway Wok" for my assigned classroom, partially because of a conversation I had with my Cooperating teacher. She told me that as a class, they had been discussing traditions in some Asian cultures. The reason for this discussion - a sweet little girl named Victoria. Victoria is Vietnamese, and is the only ELL student in the class. She is extremely intelligent, and couldn't be more excited to share her native culture with the other children. During the read aloud, she had many helpful comments regarding the tradition of Chinese New Year.

Overall, the read aloud went very well. Students seemed to be engaged during the reading, and actively participating during the following activity. Students enjoyed the "generosity chain" activity, and some even asked if they could make more than one link for the chain. Most of the class seemed to grasp the importance of being generous with your friends and family.

There are a few things I would change, if I were to do this read aloud again. First, I would have better rehearsed the introduction. This was the factual information I gave to the class before the read aloud, to help give them some background knowledge of the tradition of Chinese New Year. I felt like I was reading if from the paper, rather than just telling them the short folktale from memory. Also, at the end of the read aloud, I asked the children, "What would you say the moral of this story is?" Students seemed confused on the meaning of the word "moral", and I was not properly prepared to give them a good definition. Apparently, the concept of the moral of a story, has not been taught to this second grade class prior to this lesson. Now I know!

Implementing multicultural children’s literature that is culturally and linguistically diverse relative to my elementary students has sparked their interest in different cultures and traditions. I believe students would be more open to learning traditions in other cultures after reading "The Runaway Wok."