The Arrival, by Shaun Tan, is an amazing immigrant story! It is a graphic novel, without any words, appealing to all students. The dragon’s tail surrounding the old country is a symbol of any reason one might want to leave their country for another…war, racism, lack of freedom, genocide…It is surreal. The land of opportunity looks nothing like any place anyone has ever seen before! This wonderful graphic novel should be read after students know about
European immigration – people leaving their countries for various reasons, and passing through Ellis Island to find a land of opportunity, or not. While students read The Arrival, they will easily find “text-to-world” connections. Students will also visually SEE how difficult it is to adjust and maneuver in a new country with a family waiting back in the old country.
This book has six parts. I have prepared a PowerPoint to do Visual Thinking Strategies with students before they read each part in order for them to look closely at the pictures and interpret them, figuring out the difficult parts of the narrative more easily. Before partners read each part, there is a packet of questions they need to think about pre-reading, during reading, and after reading.
In tandem, I have given students books to read about immigration from various countries around the world, both in the past and present, to acquaint students with global understanding. Students will choose responses to write as they read. They will also keep track of the “parts” of a narrative, to prepare them to write their own.
To integrate writing into reading and history, when students have completed The Arrival as a class, and have read their immigrant novels, they have a choice to write their own five-page immigration narrative. Included in my unit are a variety of graphic organizers to help students. Scholars can choose a family immigration story to write about, or retell the story about the character they just read about during independent reading. Once the
written narrative is complete, students will transfer the information and story to write a graphic novel.
*If you are interested in an Immigration Unit to teach before reading TheArrival, here are two of my TpT products: