Há and her family are living in Saigon when the Vietnam war forces her family to flee to Alabama.
Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.
In Carl Sandburg’s “Wilderness,” the speaker explains how he carries parts of the wilderness inside of himself.
Have students read this poem after reading “Promises” in Inside Out & Back Again. In both these poems, the speaker compares themselves to something from nature. Há compares the papaya trees’ fruit to the size of different parts of her body, while the speaker in Sandburg’s poem compares their inner life to various animals. In what ways are these comparisons different and similar? What does Sandburg’s poem reveal about the use of figurative language? Há describes the tree as “Still green/but promising,” does this apply to Há herself as well as the tree? Look at the previous poem “Closed Too Soon,” for examples of her hopes.
This account comes from a 16-year-old Syrian girl named Amira and details the past three years of her life in a refugee camp in the neighboring country of Lebanon.
Introduce this text after students have read the poem “Life in Waiting,” to give them a greater understanding of life as a refugee. Have students discuss the lack of options both Amira and Há experience at their respective camps.
In the feature article “Going to School as a Refugee,” Caroline Garrison describes the fears and struggles of refugee students in Dallas schools.
Introduce this article to students after they have read “More is Not Better” to provide them with insight on life for refugees in the United States. Ask students to consider the similarities and differences between Há’s experience and those refugees interviewed in the article. Ask students to consider the amount of time that has passed between the experiences in “Inside out & Back Again” and the publication of this article in 2016. How do you think the difference in time might have helped influence the different experiences?
In Deb Westgate-Silva’s short story “Getting Even,” Rosa tries to get even with a friend who hurt her.
Introduce this text after students have read “A Shift,” to give students insight on how revenge may not feel as good as expected. At what point in these two texts do the main characters regret their decision? How does the character’s relationship with the person they mistreat inform their idea of hurting them?
In Junot Díaz’s “The Terror,” Díaz explores his experiences with fear after getting beat-up as an adolescent.
Introduce “The Terror” after students have read up to “The Vu Lee Effect”. Compare how Diaz and Há stand up to their respective bullies — Diaz no longer fearing those brothers and Há punching “Pink Boy.” Diaz avoids his bullies for a long time before passing them by whereas Há stands up to “Pink Boy” within a year. How do these different approaches affect Diaz and Há? Consider the different situation each character has with their brother. How does this influence the decisions they make in their experiences with the bullies?
In Tupac Shakur’s “The Rose That Grew from Concrete,” the speaker describes a flower that grew in an unlikely place.
Introduce this poem after reading “1976: Year of the Dragon” so students can compare ideas of success after hardship. Much of 1976: Year of the Dragon is spent reflecting on where Há’s family was last year--in Vietnam during a war, not they’re a fairly successful family living in America. Can Há and her family be compared to a rose in concrete, growing even when they struggled? Consider also, the papaya tree in Vietnam that she cared for. Does Há have more in common with her papaya tree or the rose that grew from the concrete? Consider her relationship with her mom, neighbor, and brothers.