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FunTimes Magazine

The Reading Quilt: Kitchen

Jul 02, 2023 10:00AM ● By Dr. Rachel Slaughter

Bullying is an epidemic that many school officials are facing head on. Despite their best efforts, bullying, specifically transphobic and homophobic bullying, is a social phenomenon that continues to spread like mold in many schools, hindering adolescent development, and threatening lives. 

Statistics show more than 80% of young trans people report being victims of verbal shaming or violent attacks. These harmful experiences can lead to thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Despite this reality, the subject of transphobia is rarely examined in books for young readers. Essentially, the subject is taboo in the publishing industry.

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With the onslaught of multicultural literature in the publishing industry, it is wise for school personnel who are seeking to include multicultural literature in their schools to understand the definition of multicultural literature. Multicultural literature is defined in the scholarly realm as literature that “recognizes, accepts, and affirms human differences and similarities” related to gender, race, disability, and class. Be wise, however. It is not safe to assume that all books that include diverse characters are suitable for the classroom. When choosing multicultural literature, it is important to think critically about each selection since some books include racist or transphobic ideas.

 Each month “The Reading Quilt” provides a short review of a book that a teacher may use to spark conversations about culture and race, along with a learning activity that may help students understand human behavior. Using the acronym QUILT, the review offers readers information about the Quality of writing, Universal theme, Imaginative plot, a mini Lesson plan, and Talking points that stem from the book’s premise.

Image: Banana Yoshimoto. Source: Britannica

This month’s selection is Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto, translated by Megan Backus. Mahoko Yoshimoto, who created the pseudonym Banana Yoshimoto, is a Japanese writer who was born in Tokyo on July 24, 1964. Inspired by their famous father Takaaki Yoshimoto, both Mahoko and her older sister Yoiko Haruno, a famous Mangaka, or manga artist, delight millions of people with their creativity. A former waitress, Mahoko names American authors Stephen King and Truman Capote as writers who influenced her. Kitchen is Yoshimoto’s debut work.

Image: Cover of Kitchen. Source: 

Quality of writing: Kitchen, which was made into a movie in 1997, presents Mikage, the heroine, as a lonely young adult orphan who is enchanted by kitchens, the center of the home and her heart. Yoshimoto’s writing reads like an ode to kitchens, and the tranquility the room represents. She uses that same poetic energy to immortalize the character Eriko Tanabe, a transgender woman who dies at the hands of a transphobic monster.

Universal theme: Mikage, who is already dealing with the death of her beloved grandmother, is hit with the devastating blow of losing Eriko, her mentor and confidante revealing the novel’s theme of love’s endurance in the face of tragedy.

Imaginative plot: Struggling to overcome her grandmother’s death, Mikage uses Yuichi Tanabe as a port in her storm revealing her arrested development. Throughout the story, Mikage navigates her world like Alice in wonderland, confused by the shenanigans the adult world has to offer. 

Lesson plan: This novel provides an opportunity for upper school students to discuss a person’s gender identity or gender expression that differs from their sex assigned at birth. 

Talking points: Students may benefit from understanding the various terms associated with sexual identity. Listed below are links to resources which may provide topics that students can discuss as a class.

  1. Terms associated with transgender identity.

  2. FAQ’s about transgender people

  3. LGBTQ definitions

 Dr. R. A. Slaughter’s (Doc) textbooks Turning the Page: The Ultimate Guide for Teachers to Multicultural Literature, and Turning the Page: A Guide to Securing Multicultural Literature for Schools, both published by Rowman & Littlefield and available in all bookstores, have brought Doc global recognition. For more information, log onto or check out “The Reading Quilt” talk show, every Monday, at 3:30pm on PhillyCam.

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Each month “The Reading Quilt” provides a short review of a book or play that a teacher may use to spark conversations about culture and race, along with a learning activity that may help... Read More » 


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