This curriculum unit offers teachers tested and proven materials for teaching Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club to high school students. We have chosen this novel because it reflects a modern view of the experiences of immigrant families before and after they come to the United States. In addition, we want to update the titles that our students read and, whenever possible, include more living authors. This packet was developed to offer other teachers a sample plan to introduce students to Tan’s work in particular and to Asian-American and contemporary literature in general.
Tan’s novel, first published by G. P. Putnam in 1989 and reprinted twenty-three times since then, was well received in book reviews. The Pittsburgh Press wrote, “Amy Tan’s fiction joins the family narratives of Maxine Hong Kingston and the plays of David Henry Hwang in a new genre of Asian-American cross-cultural work. The House on Mango Street will delight readers of any generation or background with its carefully wrought stories of the physical and literal oceans (geographical, cultural, generational) that both divide and unite us.” The Orlando Sentinel stated, “It is a remarkable first novel, filled with wisdom, humor, love and sadness as each woman tells her story through flashbacks and as the women’s daughters recall the problems of growing up in two cultures.”
You will notice that the sample time line suggests a six-week unit. This is the format we use for the typical high school classroom, but other teachers have done it in a variety of other sequences and lengths. All of these have been successful.
This brings us to one final comment: this unit is very flexible. We offer approaches based on firsthand experience, but we know that there are many other combinations that will work as well. We believe that all teachers adapt ideas to fit their own teaching styles, and this format, like those in all of our curriculum packets, is easily and successfully modified.