Throwback Thursday: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

TBTIn a previous Throwback Thursday post, I wrote about a favorite reading memory of mine from 3rd grade. Today I’m going to tell you about my favorite one from 4th grade! (I’ve got one for just about every year of my life, so you’re in luck. I’ve got about…16 more to go, since I’m 25. Ha!)

sadako coverBetween 3rd and 4th grade, I moved schools, and to what seemed like a new world. At that time, there weren’t all that many Asian-Americans up in my corner of the East Bay, so I felt super out of place. My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. McNulty, however, made Room 12 an amazing place to be. And I was thrilled when she began reading Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes for one of our read-aloud books. I knew I wasn’t Japanese, but the book was set in the same…continent, so I felt like it was close enough!

From what I recall, we didn’t learn a whole lot about World War II, but the entire class was rapt each day as we learned about Sadako and her atomic bomb-ravaged world. Of course we learned how to make paper cranes as a class activity, as did most people who I’ve talked about this book with.

As a testament to how powerful a reading experience this was for me, as well as to how nerdy I am was, I take you back to Room 12 to the last day of reading this book. As we approached the emotional ending of the book, Mrs. McNulty got choked up and couldn’t continue reading. She asked if someone else could finish reading the book to the class. I remember *really* wanting her to pick me to read aloud to the class, because I was a teacher’s pet like that. I also remember being super miffed because my 8-year-old self was in tears too, so I couldn’t seize this awesome opportunity.

I wanted to share about this book is because there is powerful historical fiction for almost every age level. You can learn about real events, real people, and the stories of their lives, and it doesn’t have to be boring! This was one of the first historical fiction books I read, and since then, I’ve been hooked. I am a sucker for any book that immerses me into an actual time and place where real events took place. To this day I am pretty much unable to resist any book set during World War II.

With Sadako, I experienced the incredible power of reading about people who both looked a lot like me, and yet lived in a world entirely different from my own. You see, Sadako Sasaki was a real girl.  And today there is a Children’s Peace Monument in Japan, as well as a memorial at Peace Park in Seattle in remembrance of her, and of others who died as a result of the atomic bombs. I hope I can visit this memorial with Timmy from Gracepoint Seattle, and some of his friends for our Summer Reading Getaway.  After we read the book together, of course!

sadako in japan
Children’s Peace Monument in Hiroshima, Japan

sadako memorial
statue of Sadako Sasaki at the Peace Park in Seattle, Washington
How about you? Do you love/hate historical fiction? What are some of your favorite historical fiction books? Feel free to share recommendations too, since I am always looking for great books to read with and to our youngsters.

4 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

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