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Half and Half Teacher’s Guide

By Lensey Namioka

Half and Half by Lensey Namioka



Embracing One’s Cultures: A Guide

Grades 3 up

All-of-a-Kind Family
by Sydney Taylor
Maya Running by Anjali Banerjee
Fresh Girl by Jaïra Placide
The Shadows of Ghadames by Joëlle Stolz
Macaroni Boy by Katherine Ayres
Half and Half by Lensey Namioka
Bindi Babes by Narinder Dhami
See You Down the Road by Kim Ablon Whitney

Visualize the varied cultures in American society today: descendents of Vietnamese refugees; foreign and native-born children of Latin American parents seeking to break the bonds of poverty; Muslim youth from devout Middle Eastern families; descendents of early 1900s immigrants from Ireland, Italy, and other European countries; sons and daughters of research scientists, scholars, and engineers from all over the globe. Every race, nationality, and religion contributes to the photograph of “Our American Family.” But instead of embracing the richness of America’s unique crossroads of cultures, schools often become a battleground where students from diverse backgrounds fight to belong. Prejudice stemming from negative stereotypes and ignorance leads to students being harassed and teased about the clothes they wear, the food they eat, and the way they speak, which robs those targeted of the pride they should be able to express in their own ethnicity. The books in this educators guide include literature that encompasses many of the cultures students may encounter in their school, and can help students define and embrace their own culture as well as the cultures of others. These books focus on themes of acceptance, cultural pride, and a sense of heritage that must be fostered in all of our students if our schools, and ultimately our society, can hope to be productive, successful, and united.


Being half Chinese and half Scottish has never been a problem for Fiona until the annual folk festival where she must make a choice between dancing the Highland Reel or appearing with her father as the heroine of one of his children’s books.



Fiona asks her mom, “Why do grown-ups always have to sort people into boxes anyway?” (p. 4) No one can easily answer the question, so Fiona has to answer it for herself. How does she determine the answer to her question?

2. While local reporters claim Seattle is ethnically diverse, and Fiona sits at a lunch table with students of varying ethnic cultures, she often feels as if she doesn’t belong. Why is she confused about her place among her family and friends?

3. Fiona discovers that people, family included, see what they want to see in a person, and that they judge a person based on appearance. How is this true for every character in the book?


Taking It Global
Discusses cultural diversity in America.

American Civil Liberties Union: Immigrant Rights
The official Web page.

The American Immigrants Home Page
Helpful information for and about immigrants.

Federation for American Immigration Reform
Immigrant reform movement and its affect on public schools.

Cultural Diversity–a CCSD research program
Lifestyle patterns of immigrant youth.


Prepared by Susan Geye, Library Media Specialist, Crowley Ninth Grade Campus, Crowley, Texas.

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