Online Book Discussion Group(s)

About Online Book Discussion Groups


Online book groups are another opportunity for NCTA alumni as well as those who are new to NCTA to strengthen their interest in and commitment to teaching about East Asia in their classrooms. A book is selected by the discussion group leader and is discussed over the course of a few months. In addition to readings, the group may be expected to complete assignments such as discussion posts, reactions to the readings, and pose questions for further analysis. Registration is required for the discussion group and it is open to all NCTA alumni in our 11 state region. There are also book groups that are taught nationwide and are availabe to interested educators in all states. Previous online discussion group books have been Mao Zedong by Jonathan Spence and China's Second Continent by Howard W. French.

Please check back here frequently and on the main page for online book groups.



Event/Opportunity Type: 

NCTA Book Discussion Workshop: Ghosts of the Tsunami

April 8, 2021 6:00 - 8:00 pm (Eastern Time) & April 28, 2021 7:30 - 9:00 pm (Eastern Time)

On March 11th, ten years will have passed since one of the world’s strongest earthquakes struck near the coast of northeastern Japan, triggering tsunami and a meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Plant. The events of 3.11, as they are known in Japan, have had a lasting impact on the politics, environment, and collective psyche of the nation. Richard Lloyd Parry’s book Ghosts of the Tsunami chronicles the immediate impact and lingering effects of the wave on one community in northern Japan. Lloyd Parry, Asia editor and Tokyo bureau chief of The Times of London, spent six years traveling to the village of Okawa where the tsunami took a devastating human toll. Beautifully written and deeply researched, Ghosts of the Tsunami renders a local Japanese story of tragedy into a universal tale of trauma, suffering, remembrance, and activism.  
This free two-part online book workshop/discussion group for educators will be led by Dr. Shawn Bender of Dickinson College and Ms. Michele Beauchamp, NCTA alum and literature specialist. In the first session on April 8, Dr. Bender will contextualize the book within the larger discourse of 3.11 in Japan and Ms. Beauchamp will discuss ways of integrating the book’s themes into classroom instruction. In the second part of the workshop/discussion group on April 28, Mr. Lloyd Parry will appear in conversation with Dr. Bender and take questions from participants.
Both evenings will be conducted via Zoom. Everyone who registers will receive a complimentary copy of the book. Pennsylvania educators who participate in both nights of the workshop will receive ACT 48 Hours (educators from other states will receive a certificate of completion for professional development.)  
This book program is open to K-12 educators in our 11 state region (Alabama, Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia)
To register, please click on the link here:
Event/Opportunity Type: 

NCTA Alumni Online Book Discussion Group: Choosing Daughters by Lihong Shi


NCTA Alumni Online Book Discussion Group: Choosing Daughters by Lihong Shi

For NCTA Alumni in the University of Pittsburgh’s NCTA Coordinating Site Region

During the winter/spring semester of 2021, Dr. Diana M. Wood will lead an asynchronous book discussion group on Choosing Daughters: Family Change in Rural China by Lihong Shi.  This book represents recent research within one village (Lijia) in Liaoning Province, the most southern of the three provinces comprising the area formerly known as Manchuria. The author's grandfather had close ties to this village so Lihong Shi was able to talk frequently with village residents as she lived in the village during at least three research trips.  In fact, the personal stories recounted in each chapter provide terrific insight into the shifting view of child gender preference in one area of China. This book covers birth planning policy, changing views of baby gender preference and concerns over the increasing expense of "bridewealth" for prospective young men's families.   


This free discussion group will be conducted asynchronously during January-April 2021, and will use the Proboards Discussion Board site. Registrants will receive a complimentary copy of the book along with a detailed schedule of readings and assignments.   


This book discussion group on Choosing Daughters is for NCTA Alumni in the University of Pittsburgh’s NCTA Coordinating Site Region NCTA Alumni from (PA, WV, MD, DE, MI, KY, MN, OH, AL) 


For Pennsylvania teachers, completion of this book discussion will be worth fourteen Act 48 hours.  For teachers in other states we can provide you with a certificate of completion and/or a personal letter from the instructor.  


Registration deadline is December 18 (or until we reach capacity).


To register, go to:


Event/Opportunity Type: 

The Samurai's Garden Online Book Discussion Group


For NCTA Alumni in the University of Pittsburgh’s NCTA Coordinating Site Region 

During the Fall of 2020 Dr. Diana M. Wood will lead an online book discussion group on The Samurai’s Garden by Gail Tsukiyama. While this book was copyrighted in 1994, Dr. Wood read it in 2001 and the intervening years have not erased her remembrance of it.  There are three main characters, two Japanese (one man and one woman) and one young Chinese (raised in Hong Kong but a university student in Guangzhou, China) and the years covered by the story are 1937-8. Almost every moment of this story occurs in the Chinese family’s beach-front home in Tarumi, Japan. While this places our story at the start of WW II, a Ryota poem provided on an introductory page suggests that it is truly about something else.

                                       No one spoke,

                                       The host, the guest,

                                       The white chrysanthemums.

This free discussion group will be conducted asynchronously over the course of two months on the Proboards Discussion Board site (according to the tentative schedule below). You will receive a complimentary copy of the book, which will be yours to keep.  For Pennsylvania teachers, completion of this book discussion will be worth fourteen Act 48 hours.  For teachers in other states we can provide you with a certificate of completion and/or a personal letter from the instructor.  

We are only accepting a limited number of participants in this book discussion group. Registration deadline is September 1, 2020 (or until all slots are filled). Please click this link to register:


Tentative Schedule for Readings/Discussion Board Posts


9/7/20:  Post your personal introduction on the Proboards site


9/14/20: Background reading selections dealing with Zen Buddhism

Preliminary Readings:

"Finding Quiet Within the Noise: How Japanese Traditions Can Help Today's Students" by Linda Ensor Education about Asia vol. 23, #3, Winter 2018.

Zen Buddhism from the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Zen Buddhism: A Short Introduction - National Endowment for the Humanities, Asian Art Museum Video YouTube Video


9/21/20: pp. 3-70  “AUTUMN”


10/5/20: pp. 73-113  “WINTER”


10/19/20: pp. 117-159  “SPRING”


11/2/20:  pp. 163-211  “SUMMER AND AUTUMN”


11/9/20:  Final Thoughts/Reflections


Event/Opportunity Type: