Kindergarten through fifth graders and members of the International Club were treated to a special virtual visit by award-wining author and illustrator Grace Lin on Feb. 8-11. Sponsored by the Bronxville School Foundation, Lin’s visit was a critical piece of the district’s diversity, equity and inclusion work.
During her visit, Lin provided the elementary school students with insight into her writing process and the inspirations for her books. She read stories from her novels, answered students’ questions and engaged them in interactive activities, including teaching them how to draw a dog and a Chinese dragon. Kindergartners and first graders learned about the process of writing and illustrating Lin’s book “A Big Mooncake for Little Star.” Second graders, who have been reading Lin’s book “The Year of the Dog,” learned how real-life characters, details and myths found their way into the author’s novels. Third graders through fifth graders learned about the experiences and myths that inspired Lin’s book “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” and listened to a story from “Starry River of the Sky.”
In addition, Lin shared her story with faculty members during a virtual districtwide assembly and connected with high school students to discuss her experiences of growing up in upstate New York as part of the only Asian American family in her community.
“Desperate to fit in, she rejected her Asian culture,” Director of Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Mara Koetke said. “As she matured, she became more curious about her Asian identity and, through travel and education, learned more about her culture. This led her to write books that include Asian characters and culture in the hopes that young children everywhere can learn about themselves and see their identities reflected in classroom libraries. I hope the students are inspired by her story and that teachers gain an appreciation for having stories that reflect the identities of our students, as well as an opportunity for students to learn about other cultures and perspectives.”
According to the author, her experiences have influenced her books, including her Newbery Honor, “Where the Mountain Meets the Moon;” her Geisel Honor, “Ling & Ting;” her National Book Award finalist, “When the Sea Turned to Silver” and her Caldecott Honor, “A Big Mooncake for Little Star.” Lin is also a radio commentator and podcast host and recently gave her TEDx talk, “The Windows and Mirrors of Your Child’s Bookshelf.” Lin has been recognized by former President Obama’s office as a Champion of Change for Asian American and Pacific Islander Art and Storytelling, and in 2016, her art was displayed at the White House.
Special thanks to teachers Justin Chao and Veronica Lindahl, Principal Tricia Murray and the Bronxville School Foundation for their assistance in planning and supporting the event.