Exploring Identity: American Born Chinese

Lesson 2

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Explain the basic features of a graphic novel, approaches to reading a graphic novel, and how structure contributes to meaning.

Readings and Materials

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Target Task


Writing Prompt

What is the purpose of a gutter in comic art? Support your answer with evidence from the text.

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How can comic book artists/graphic novelists use gutters to communicate meaning in their work? Provide a specific example from the text.

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Key Questions


Close Read Questions

What is a graphic novel? How are they different from other genres of text? How are they similar?

Why did the author of “What Is a Graphic Novel?” include red arrows in her comic? How does this feature contribute to the purpose of this text?

Why does the author of “What Is a Graphic Novel?” most likely use arrows on the first but not second page of this comic?

Number each panel in the first comic in “How to Read a Comic” based on what order you would read them in.



  • Book: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang  pp. 7 – 20

Enhanced lesson plan

Enhanced Lesson Plan

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Common Core Standards

  • RI.7.2 — Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.

  • RI.7.5 — Analyze the structure an author uses to organize a text, including how the major sections contribute to the whole and to the development of the ideas.

Spiral Standards