THE SEVEN CHINESE BROTHERS
by Margaret Mahy
Reading Level: Ages 4-8
The Seven Chinese Brothers have done nothing wrong. In fact, they are compassionate and helpful to people they don’t even know. When the cruel emperor tries to kill one of the brothers because he is too powerful, the other brothers employ their extraordinary powers in turn to free the captured brother. Among the extraordinary gifts is the gift of compassion. Although this is a tall tale, the characters display great dedication to each other and their countrymen. This provides a discussion starter for families to explore their special dedication to each other and responsibility to people throughout the world. This is a lovely read-aloud with the mood of an ancient story. Enjoy.
ASK: In your family, each person is good at something. What are you good at and what are the other people in your family good at?
SHOW: Look at the picture on the cover and notice how the seven (count them) brothers look alike. Notice that they are surrounding the Chinese Emperor. This is a very cruel ruler and the brothers are going to work together (using their very special talents) to take him out of power.
CONNECT: This is a tall tale that takes place in China long, long ago. Talk about the Great Wall of China. This wall is so big that it is the only human-made construction that can be seen from space. It was built over 2,000 years ago.
ASK: What is each brother’s extraordinary power? Why is each power a good thing to have? Think especially about the brother who cries
SHOW: Notice the beautiful clothes, uniforms, and decorations in the Chinese army and on the emperor.
CONNECT: Why do you think the Emperor is afraid of the seven Chinese brothers? How do they act when the Emperor tries to kill them? Have you ever felt that someone was treating you badly for an unjust reason? What can you learn from the way the brothers respond in this situation?
ASK: Why do you think the Emperor is afraid of the seven Chinese brothers? How do they act when the Emperor tries to kill them? Have you ever felt that someone was treating you badly for an unjust reason? What can you learn from the way the brothers respond in this situation?
DISCUSS: How do (your) family members support each other and cooperate.
- Look at a map of the world and find China. Compare the location of China to North America. Go on the Internet and learn more about the land, people, food, and clothing styles in China. Find out what animals live in China. Compare the Chinese alphabet and writing style to our alphabet. Read about the Great Wall of China and find it on a map. Find out why it was built and how it is used today.
- How do you defend/support your family members? What would you do if you heard someone tease your sister? What would you do if your cousin lost something important to him? How do you show your parents that you care about them? Think of different ways you support your family members? Make a plan for showing your dedication to someone in your family.
- What is your responsibility to people in the world? What are some ways we act that show we are aware that there are other people in the world that are affected by what we do? Think of examples of things you already do. Think of things to do in the future.
- Draw a picture of your family helping (or sharing something with) each other. Talk about ways that family members support each other.
- Work cooperatively with your family members to complete a project. Make plans for the project before you start and talk about the responsibilities of each person. After you are done, talk about how it went. How did you cooperate?
- Creative writing: Write a tall tale of your own. Use the basic story elements (below) but exaggerate the descriptions and the abilities of the characters.
- Main character/abilities
- Other characters/abilities:
- Setting (where/when it takes place):
- One attempt to solve the problem: