Beyond the Great Mountains

A Visual Poem About China


Young, E. (2005). Beyond the great mountains: A visual poem about china. San Fransisco: Chronical Books, LLC.


Beyond the Great Mountains Reading by user34958233

Information About the Book

Author & Illustrator: Ed Young

Genre: Poetry

Topic/Theme: A detailed description of the diverse landscapes of China.

Media: Rice-Paper Painting


  • Bill Martin, Jr. Picture Book Award, 2006-2007 Nominee Kansas
  • White Ravens Award, 2006 Winner United States International

About the Author/Illustrator

Ed Young, author and illustrator of Beyond the Great Mountains, was born in Tientsin, China. He grew up for most of his life in Shanghai and then moved later on in life to Hong Kong. Young eventually moved to the United States where he currently lives with his wife and two daughters. Young has illustrated more than eighty children’s books, many he also wrote. He has received a Caldecott Medal and two Caldecott Honors. What is different about Young’s books and illustrations is that he “often combines words and images,” (Young, 2005). For more information, click here to view his website.

Criteria for High Quality Muliticultural Literature

1. Specific criteria for illustrations: Illustrations should complement and enhance the imagery of the story. The illustrations are in a sort of paper collage format that gives an appealing feel that the paper has texture. The images are so appealing and have so much small detail that it really complements the lines of the poem because it is describing such a large country but is describing it in such fine detail about all the different landscapes you can encounter. The illustrations also have rich and appealing colors that vary from metallic silvers to earthy robust browns.

2. Criteria for notable multicultural books: Have an appealing format and endearing quality. This story is visually very exciting just by looking at the cover because of the rich textures that the illustrations show. Once you open the book, the book is in a very unique format where you see the whole poem but you can flip open each page to see the illustration that goes with that line of the poem.

3. Specific criteria for diverse language: Language should reflect distinctive vocabulary, style, and patterns of speech of the cultural group. On each page of the book, there is are Chinese characters that represents what the illustration is. There are ancient and modern characters that are both represented. Then, at the end of the book, it has a list of the different characters used that are organized by ancient and modern characters.

Beyond the Great Mountains Lesson Plan Idea

Grade Level:
  • 3rd Grade

Common Core ELA Standard:
  • RL.3.10 - By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poetry, at the high end of the grades 2-3 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

  • The students will read a section of the poem with proficiency, scaffolding will be provided as needed.

Lesson Procedure:
  • The lesson will begin by showing a map of China to the students. You may need to compare the size of China to the size of the United States for students to realize how big the country is. This is important because it allows them to realize that there are many opportunities for this big country to have diverse landscapes. The teacher will ask the students if they have ever traveled to China or what things the students know about China.
  • The teacher will explain how they are going to be reading a poem called Beyond the Great Mountains: A Visual Poem About China. The teacher will explain how the students are going to be given a line or two from the poem that they will have to rehearse as a readers theater. Some students who need extra scaffolding may be given a partner to read their line or two with. The teacher will then read the poem to the whole class so that the students have an opportunity to hear the poem.
  • The students will then be given their slips of paper that have their line or two and have an opportunity to practice their lines. The students will be encouraged to look up any words in their line that they do not know the definition of or if they aren't quite sure how to pronounce. You may want to ask students questions about what they think their words mean. Can you describe what the text is trying to talk about? The students will then line up in the order of their slips and rehearse the readers theater poem. You may have to read this more than once because you may have more students than there are lines in the poem.
  • Next, the students will write a reflection on what the experience of the readers theater was like and to summarize what their line in the poem meant.

Relevance & Broader Message:

  • You will be able to make this relevant to your students because they will see the connection between the sizes of China and the United States and how both of these countries have very diverse landscapes.
  • It is also an important literacy skill for the students to be able to read a section of a piece of literature in front of people and this will be a less intimidating version of public speaking that can be really fun.
  • You could make this into a broader lesson by connecting this to social studies and talking about China and the landscapes.