Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin

I read the book Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin. This book is about Hana who wants to play violin at her school’s talent show, but she’s only had three lessons. Her brothers, Kenji and Koji, laugh at her and tell her she won’t be good enough, but she wants to play the violin like her grandfather Ojiichan did, and she does amazing in the talent show, to the surprise of everyone, including herself. I enjoyed that this story was about a girl who was doing some things, and she was illustrated in a true to life way instead of in a racist way. Because she is Asian American, Hana offers a unique perspective into the cutthroat world of talent show violinists, and the illustrations portray Hana as a real girl instead of a sallow-skinned waif who doesn’t have a personality; Hana is a three dimensional character who has anxiety and talent, just like any real young girl would.

A learning activity that I would employ to address harmful stereotypes about characters is perhaps bring out a Terrible Racist Book and employ the NICE strategy, in which we Notice; Make observations, and then Investigate: ask questions and think critically, and then Contribute and Challenge by providing information and challenge assumptions, and then Engage and discuss how to make the situation more fair. By engaging in a critical thinking exercise about this, we could examine what and why someone might portray a character in a racist manner, and how we might portray them differently in a different version of the book.

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