NYT Bestselling Author Joanna Ho Visits Lower School
700Lower School students were thrilled to welcome New York Times bestselling author Joanna Ho into their classrooms earlier this month. Ms. Ho visited students and teachers virtually for a special all-school assembly.

Ms. Ho first visited with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders and read her newly-released book, Playing at the Border: A Story of Yo-Yo Ma. She shared more with them about Yo-Yo Ma and his Silkroad Ensemble, which is comprised of musical artists from around the world who represent dozens of nationalities and artistic traditions. The lesson she aims to teach through her new book focuses on how great differences can lead to great beauty.

Ms. Hulse's 4th grade class enjoyed the assembly and asked Ms. Ho about how long she has been writing children's books. She shared that she was inspired to begin writing a few years ago when her children were born.

"I was hunting for holiday books for my newborn, and I realized there weren't very many books with characters who looked like us," Ms. Ho explained. "I started writing because I believe all kids need to see themselves and others in books."

She went on to share how her parents immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan and China. She also spoke about the lengthy process of developing a children's book, explaining that she had to edit her story "many, many, many times" before it was complete. After that, the story was shared with an illustrator who worked to bring the story to life through visual illustrations. She encouraged students to read as much as they can, as this will help them one day become strong writers.

Next up, Ms. Ho visited with students in PreK through 2nd grade. She began her visit by talking about some of her favorite princesses when she was growing up. She displayed photos including Cinderella and Ariel from The Little Mermaid and asked students to share what was similar about all of the princesses.

Teachers in classrooms feverishly typed the responses that their students were shouting in classrooms:

... Bright red lips...
....They are all very pretty...
.... Each princess has very big eyes...
... All smiling...

"These are all great answers!" exclaimed Ms. Ho. "When I was your age, I thought these princesses were all beautiful, and I wanted to look like them so that I could be beautiful. But, I looked a little bit different from all of my favorite princesses." She explained how, for example, her eyes were not big and round, and her eyelashes were not really long like the princesses.

She then read the students her New York Times bestseller, Eyes that Kiss in the Corners. The story follows a young Asian girl as she realizes that her eyes look a little different than her peers' eyes but are the same as her mother's, grandmother's, and sister's eyes. The vibrant illustrations, completed by Dung Ho, complement the story well and celebrate the beauty found throughout Asian culture.

The Lower School extends a special thank you to the Moyer family for helping to make this special visit and assembly possible.

More about Joanna Ho:
Joanna Ho is a New York Times bestselling author. Her upcoming picture books include Playing at the Border: A Story of Yo-Yo Ma (Fall 2021), Eyes that Speak to the Stars (2022) and One Day (2023). Her debut YA novel, The Silence that Binds Us will be released in 2022. She is a writer and educator with a passion for anti-bias, anti-racism and equity work. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, and a master's degree from the Principal Leadership Institute at Berkeley. She has been an English teacher, a dean, the designer of an alternative-to-prison program, and a professional development creator partnering with educational leaders around the country. She is currently the vice principal of a high school in the Bay Area, where she survives on homemade chocolate chip cookies, outdoor adventures, and dance parties with her kids.