Inside Out and Back Again

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No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama.

For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by . . . and the beauty of her very own papaya tree.

But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape . . . and the strength of her very own family.

This is the moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next.

Curriculet Details
43 Questions
45 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 5th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining imagery, symbolism, and Buddhism. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about irony and tone. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of character development, diction, and plot. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

The curriculet is being added to your library

Part I: Saigon

As you begin reading this book, you will notice that the format is different from other books you might have read. This is because the novel is a verse novel, which means that the narrative is told through poetry rather than prose.  

Homework #6

Tết or Tết Nguyên Đán, is the Vietnamese new year. It is also called the Lunar new year because it focuses on the moon's phases.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
What has this first story told us about the narrator?  

Homework #7

The I Ching is one of the oldest of the Chinese classic texts. For fortune telling, the text of the I Ching are printed on coins. The coins are cast and the combination of the hexagrams are interpreted by the fortune tellers in order to predict your fate.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #8

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.6
From what you've read so far, how does Ha get along with her brothers?  

Homework #9

The papaya is the fruit of the plant Carica papaya. It is native to the tropics of the Americas, perhaps from southern Mexico and neighboring Central America.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #11

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
Why are the well off families leaving Saigon? 

Homework #12

A seamstress is someone who sews seams, or in other words, a sewing machine operator. Some people who work as a seamstress work in factories while others work in sewing cooperatives or at home.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #13

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
Why is Ha's family taking turns eating the eggs? 

Homework #15

The đồng has been the currency of Vietnam since May 3, 1978. Issued by the State Bank of Vietnam, it is represented by the symbol "₫".  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4
What does the word "bushel" in the phrase "seven eighths of a bushel of spinach" mean?  

Homework #18

When the Vietnamese expelled the French in 1954, Vietnam was divided politically into two rival states, North and South Vietnam. Conflict between the two sides intensified, with heavy intervention from the United States, in what is known as the Vietnam War. This is the time frame in which the first part of this book takes place.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #19

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
How would you describe Ha's mother to someone who has never read about her?  

Homework #20

Imagery is an important element in this story. Here is a short video that explains more about this literary term.  (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #21

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.5
Which of the follow is an example of imagery taken from this page? 
Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was president of South Vietnam from 1965–75.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #23

An important literary element in this portion of the book has been symbolism. Here is a short video that describes this literary term. (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #24

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
What is a symbol you've noticed in the book so far? 

Homework #26

Hồ Chí Minh was a Vietnamese communist revolutionary leader who was prime minister (1945–1955) and president (1945–1969) of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam).  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #27

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.5
Why does Ha's mother want to leave their home? 

Homework #30

The pages we have read so far have established a specific tone. Here is a short video about tone and mood that helps explain these literary terms.  (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #31

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.5
What is the mood of the book so far? 

Homework #33

This piece focuses on the things each of the members of her family were able to take with them after their decision to flee from Saigon during the Vietnam War. Her mother made each of them matching brown packs to carry. If you were leaving your home forever, what would you chose to bring with you?  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #34

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4
What is the meaning of the word "bougainvillea"? 

Homework #35

The highlighted phrase is an example of figurative language. Here is an explanation of simile and metaphor. Which of these is the phrase highlighted? (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #36

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4
What type of phrase is "flares elbows into wings"? 

Homework #38

A flare produces a brilliant light or intense heat without an explosion. (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
Do you think the rumors that the other ship had more supplies were true or were they made up to get people to leave? Why? 

Homework #39

Quiz 1 

Homework #41

The theme of a story is an important aspect of the book. Here is a short video explaining theme.  (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #42

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
What is one theme of Inside Out and Back Again? 

Homework #44

Immigration is difficult even in the best of circumstances. These were not such circumstances. During the Vietnam War, nearly 2 million people fled their country on boats like the one being described. The number of boat people leaving Vietnam and arriving safely in another country totalled almost 800,000 between 1975 and 1995. That means less than half of people who left on boats survived the passage.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
How is the food on the boat different from what Ha is used to eating? 

Homework #47

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
Why are so many people distraught about the lowering of the flag? 

Homework #50

Many times people who have only lived in one location their entire lives and haven't had much interaction with people outside their immediate neighbors are shocked to see people who do not resemble themselves. This is true especially in poorer countries and in remote areas. Now that most of the world is connected through internet connections, television, and movies this happens less often but in the 1970s this was different.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
Do you think the highlighted text is true? Why or why not? 

Homework #52

Guam is the largest island in Micronesia and is the southernmost of the Mariana Islands. Guam's economy is supported by its principal industry, tourism, which is composed primarily of visitors from Japan.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #53

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
How is the mood different now that everyone is off the boat?  

Homework #54

Fish sauce is an amber-colored liquid extracted from the fermentation of fish with sea salt. It is a staple ingredient in numerous cultures in Southeast Asia and the coastal regions of East Asia, and featured heavily in Cambodian, the Philippines, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. Below is a short video that shows how fish sauce is made.  (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #56

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
If you lost your home and had to start over in another country, where would you choose to go to start over? Why? 

Homework #57

A refugee is a person who is outside their home country because they have suffered persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or because they are a member of a persecuted social group or because they are fleeing a war.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #59

Quiz 2 

Homework #61

Internal and external conflicts are important plot elements in this story. Here is a short video that explains conflict. (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #63

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
What is one of the external conflicts that you've noticed from the book so far? 

Homework #64

Food you eat while you're at home helps your body build up a tolerance to the bacteria that is naturally occurring in your area. Also you grow fond of the types of food specific to where you live over time. When you move from one country to another, it is hard to get used to the different foods. It can cause intestinal distress until your body becomes accustomed to it.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
How is the food the cowboy brings home different from the food Ha's family is used to eating? 

Homework #67

Every book has a protagonist. Here is a short video that talks about protagonists and antagonists. (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #69

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.5
Who is the protagonist of this book? 

Homework #70

Nhất Linh was a Vietnamese writer, editor and publisher in colonial Hanoi. He published many of the influential realism-influenced novels of the 1930s. (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #71

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
How does Ha's family communicate with other people in Alabama that don't speak Vietnamese? 

Homework #74

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.4
The phrase "like a constant washcloth" highlighted in the text is an example of what literary term? 
Diacritical marks are symbols added to letters of the alphabet to indicate different pronunciation than the letters are usually given.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #76

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
How is Ha's school in Alabama different from the one in Vietnam? 

Homework #77

Most stories have both static and dynamic characters. Here is a short video about these literary terms. (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #78

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.5
What kind of character is Ha? 

Homework #80

Physical self-defense is the use of physical force to counter an immediate threat of violence.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #81

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
Why has Khoi started giving Ha rides on his bike? 

Homework #83

This section and the one prior deals with situational irony. Here is a short video that describes this literary term. (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #84

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
What is ironic about Ha's family situation in Alabama?   

Homework #85

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
What type of character is the cowboy? 

Homework #86

A, an, and the are examples of articles in English. Articles are found in many Indo-European, Semitic, and Polynesian languages but formally are absent from some large languages of the world, such as Indonesian, Japanese, Hindi and Russian.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #88

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
How is Christian church different from the Buddhism Ha's family follow? 
The ceremony that Ha is describing is called baptism. It is is a Christian rite of admission and adoption into the Christian Church.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #89

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
Which of the following characters are static? 

Homework #90

Spelling irregularities happen in the English language often. Most of these irregularities are due to the fact that so many of the words we use in English come from other languages. Some of these words are Latin, German, Spanish, and Russian.  

Homework #92

The point of view and cultural perspective of a story are very important aspects to discuss. Here is a video that discusses these elements.  (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #93

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
Why has Ha been eating lunch in the bathroom all this time? 

Homework #94

This section is an example of foreshadowing. Here is a short video that explains this literary term. (This annotation contains a video)

Homework #95

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
How does Ha finally get some friends?  

Homework #97

Ha's classmates and Miss Scott do not understand how uncomfortable she is in Alabama. They only see the difference of the specific war images and their daily lives. If they could imagine what it would be like for them to lose their home and have to travel to another continent to start again, they may start treating her differently.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #98

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1
Vu is doing what now after school? 

Homework #100

The dragon dance is a form of traditional dance and performance in Asian culture. The dance is performed by a team of dancers who manipulate a long flexible figure of a dragon using poles positioned at regular intervals along the length of the dragon.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
Why did Mrs. Washington show Ha the book of photos from her son now? 

Homework #102

Buddha was a sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. Born in the Shakya republic in the Himalayan foothills sometime between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE, Gautama Buddha taught primarily in northeastern India. Buddha means "awakened one" or "the enlightened one." Buddha is also used as a title for the first awakened being in an era.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
What type of character is Pink Boy? 

Homework #103

Ha is in the middle of an uncontrolled fit of anger. Anger is a natural, adaptive response to threats; it inspires powerful, often aggressive, feelings and behaviors, which allow us to fight and to defend ourselves when we are attacked. A certain amount of anger, therefore, is necessary to our survival. On the other hand, we can't physically lash out at every person or object that irritates or annoys us. (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #105

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
Why does Ha dig a hole to scream into?  

Homework #106

Ha's mother ends up having to express her anger in order to receive service from the butcher. The healthiest way to express anger is when you express your angry feelings in an assertive—not aggressive—manner . To do this, you have to learn how to make clear what your needs are, and how to get them met, without hurting others. Being assertive doesn't mean being pushy or demanding; it means being respectful of yourself and others.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #107

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
Why does Ha's mother yell at the butcher in Vietnamese? 

Homework #111

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.1
What does the name Ha calls Pink Boy mean in Vietnamese? 
Those who have been the targets of bullying can suffer from long term emotional and behavioral problems. Bullying can cause loneliness, depression, anxiety, lead to low self-esteem and increased susceptibility to illness. When someone has been bullied for as long as Ha has, it is natural for the target to feel a desire to see the bully hurt as well.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #114

The Siamese fighting fish, also sometimes colloquially known as the betta (Betta splendens), is a species in the gourami family which is popular as an aquarium fish. This species is native to the Mekong basin of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. They tend to be rather aggressive and often are kept in separate tanks from one another. (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
What do you think is the dried orange something that Ha was given as a gift? 

Homework #120

Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, where monks or nuns of any faith reside.  (This annotation contains an image)

Homework #121

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
What is Ha's mother hopeful about when she chants? 

Homework #124

Amethyst is a naturally occurring stone-- a violet variety of quartz. It is often used in jewelry. The picture below is of a geode filled with amethyst. This is how the stone looks in its natural state. For jewelry, they cut, polish, and shape the stone.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.2
What does the disappearance of the stone in Ha's mother's ring symbolize? 

Homework #127

A person who is able to speak or write a particular language easily and accurately. is considered fluent.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.5.3
What type of character is Mrs. Washington?  

Homework #129

An altar is any structure upon which offerings such as sacrifices are made for religious purposes. Altars are usually found at shrines, and they can be located in temples, churches, homes, and other places of worship. Below is a picture of a Buddhist altar.  (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz 3