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The Secret Battle of Evan Pao

The Secret Battle of Evan Pao

When twelve-year-old Evan Pao, his mother, and sister move to a small Virginia town, their new neighbor Brady Griggs goes out of his way to make Evan, who is Chinese-American, feel unwelcome.
The Secret Battle of Evan Pao

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In The Secret Battle of Evan Pao, Evan struggles to figure out how he fits into this country's past. He does his own research to make a connection to Battlefield Day and shares it with his teacher and classmates. Ask students to think about what they have learned in school about Chinese history, Chinese people and their immigration to the United States, and contributions by Chinese and Chinese Americans. Get them thinking about peoples whose stories are left out of what’s learned at school and discuss the value of knowing about the communities, experiences, and histories of all peoples.

Next, get students to take a closer look at their own learning and have them identify absent voices in a current or recent history or social studies unit. As they review books and learning materials, have students ask themselves and note whose experiences are represented and whose experiences are left out. Then ask them to search for primary and secondary sources that provide information and details about a missing voice, paying attention to who created the record of that voice.

Ask students to present their findings to the class and open discussion about how what they’ve found helps paint a fuller or richer picture of the past and why that’s important.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

  1. What is Evan’s “sense for lies”? Why does his mother trust it? Why does Evan sometimes struggle to trust it?
  2. What is it like for Evan and his family to be the newcomers in a small town? Have you ever experienced moving from one place to another? How does your experience compare to Evan’s?
  3. How would you describe bullying? Are all kinds of bullying the same? Why or why not? How are prejudice and bias created? How can you overcome them? How does your school culture embrace and celebrate diversity and differences?
  4. Do you agree with the punishment Max and other students decided on for Brady? Why or why not? Whose responsibility is it to stop bullying? What ideas do you have for how students could work together to stop bullying?
  5. Evan forgives Brady and chooses to serve his own kind of justice to Charlie. Do you agree with what Evan did? Why or why not?
  6. Though Evan and Brady have very different backgrounds, what do they have in common? What does it take for them to come to understand each other?

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