Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

Last updated Thursday, May 1, 2008

Author: Eleanor Coerr
Date of Publication: 2002
ISBN: 0399237992
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: May 2008

Synopsis: From For twenty-five years, middle-grade readers have been moved by this telling of Sadako Sasaki's spirited battle with leukemia. She was two-years-old when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II, and dizzy spells began when she was twelve. She faced the disease with an irrepressible spirit and focused her energy (and that of everyone who knew her) on folding 1000 paper cranes, which Japanese legend held would prompt the gods to make her well again. Eleanor Coerr crafted this story of Sadako's twelfth year after reading the book of her letters her classmates compiled after her death.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Looking at the cover, what do you think the story is going to be about?
•  In what country do you think Sadako lives?
•  What do you know about Japan, and about kids your age in Japan?
•  Have the U.S. and Japan always been friends?
•  What is the name of the garment Sadako is wearing? (Kimono)
•  What is a crane? (a bird)
•  What is a paper crane?
•  Have you ever made a thousand of anything?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you go to church with your parents? Have you ever visited another kind of church?
•  Do you think Sadako was too young to have remembered what she felt during the atom bomb explosion?
•  Do you think Sadako should be hiding her dizzy spells from her parents?
•  Do you think Sadako will get better in the Hospital?
•  Are there any superstitions your parents or friends think will help them when they get sick?
•  How would you feel if you couldn't do your favorite things because you'd gotten sick?
•  Have you ever had to visit a friend in the hospital? What was it like?
•  Have you ever had to stay in a hospital?
•  What is an atomic bomb? (Unimaginably destructive)
•  Has anyone dropped an atomic bomb on people since Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Why not?

Craft ideas:
•  Use colored paper to make an origami paper crane. Instructions are on pgs. 69-80 of the book.
•  Draw a picture of yourself doing one of your favorite things.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!