Great Book For All Ages

Average: 5 (1 vote)

Name: Daniel Kornosky
Grades/Subjects Taught: 10th Grade World History II and 12th Grade Government and Economics
School: Oakland Catholic High School
Lost Names by: Richard E. Kim
Lost Names is a wonderful book with many themes which is surely appropriate for all grade levels. Lost Names can be related to younger students as long as the appropriate background is taught to students before reading. Not only is this story easy to read and engaging, but the story also allows the reader to feel as if they are a part of the cast of characters and understand the themes of culture, politics, world relations, military, and the thought processes of the characters in the book.
Before reading Lost Names I had no knowledge of what the book would be about. I figured that it would be a standard reading that would be used mostly for my knowledge and not necessarily for my students. It only took a few pages of reading for me to see that this book would work very well with my students. The story is about a young boy (we do not learn his name and we do not learn his age until the final part of the story) living in Japanese occupied Korea. The story follows his traditional upbringing and his family of three generations living in one household. The reader is able to understand traditional Korean culture, but also is able to see the differences between the grandfather’s, father’s, and son’s generations. The story quickly delves into how the Japanese occupation drastically changed the lives of the boy and his family from matters such as the changes in the school system and subjects taught to the racism towards the Koreans by the Japanese. Lost Names is able to provide its readers with a very simple, but advanced understanding of Korean and Japanese culture, politics, military, and self image. Once the foundation is set from the understanding the intense relations of Korea and Japan the reader is able to see the role of Korea in terms of Korea, Korea: Japanese relations, Korea: Asian relations, Korea: world relations and to see the role and history of Korea past and present.
Lost Names also delves into more symbolism and the story allows the reader to make connections between Japanese occupied Korea and modern day world affairs. The reader is able to distinctly see the difference between self liberation and liberation from outsiders, assimilation and cultural imperialism, the progression of Korea as a country through its political struggle portrayed through the personal struggles of the three generations in the story.
If I were to use Lost Names in my class, I would primarily use it as a way for students to understand the impacts on war on a personal level. The students would be able to understand World War II, without actually reading about the war. I would then use the book as a way to introduce and analyze imperialism, Asian culture, and world relations. Finally, I would use Lost Names as a way to draw connections to the present day with world conflicts such as the War in Iraq and Afghanistan, modern day imperialism, and the political role of North and South Korea, China, and Japan today. We would easily be able to discuss how the themes in Lost Names impact the modern world and apply these same themes and understandings to world affairs.
Lost Names is a wonderful tale that can be used for many purposes and I truly look forward to using it in my classroom in the future.