National Endowment for the Arts - The Big Read
When the Emperor Was Divine

When the Emperor Was Divine

by Julie Otsuka

Mostly though, they waited. For the mail. For the news. For the bells. For breakfast and lunch and dinner. For one day to be over and the next day to begin.


Welcome to The Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literary reading in American culture. The Big Read hopes to unite communities through great literature, as well as inspire students to become lifelong readers.

This Big Read Teacher's Guide contains ten lessons to lead you through Julie Otsuka's When the Emperor Was Divine. Each lesson usually has four sections: a focus topic, discussion activities, writing exercises, and homework assignments. In addition, we have provided capstone projects and suggested essay topics, as well as handouts with more background information about the novel, the historical period, and the author. All lessons dovetail with the state language arts standards required in the fiction genre.

Finally, The Big Read Reader's Guide deepens your exploration with an author interview, booklists, timelines, and historical information. We hope this guide and syllabus allow you to have fun with your students while introducing them to the work of a great American author.

From the NEA, we wish you an exciting and productive school year.

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