Snow Falling in Spring

Li, Moying. Snow Falling in Spring: Coming of Age in China During the Cultural Revolution. FSG, 2008. Available in paperback. 176pp. Lexile 1020.

In this fascinating memoir, Li, who was 12 at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, focuses on her teenage years and the effect of the political change on her educated, book-loving family.  Her father, who made films for the army, and her mother, a teacher, were separated from their family, leaving Li and her brother with their grandmother.  As teens, Li and her peers were encouraged to denounce their parents and teachers (which she had no wish to do); in one sad scene, Li learns that a beloved headmaster has committed suicide. The power of education and reading is a theme throughout. Family friends secretly loaned Li forbidden books that sustained her, including Western classics like Shakespeare, Dickens, and Jack London.  In the end, Li had the chance—unusual at the time--to study in the U.S., where she now lives.

Reading Std #2: Determine central ideas or themes and analyze their development; summarize key supporting details and ideas. Have students trace the theme about reading and the role it played in Li’s teen years.  Have them consider the restrictions the Chinese government put on books, and why, and compare those to the availability of books in their own lives.