Front Desk by Kelly Yang: Part 1

Contributor: Allison Crews. Lesson ID: 13460

Ten-year-old Mia Tang has just moved to the United States. As if learning the ropes at her new school isn't challenging enough, she also helps her parents run a motel!


Literary Studies, Writing

learning style
personality style
Beaver, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5), Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Think of a time when you felt like you just didn't fit in.

  • What did that feel like?
  • What did you do about it?

Front Desk by Kelly Yang tells the story of a young Chinese immigrant, named Mia Tang, who ends up helping to run a motel with her parents in California.

Through kindness and perseverance, Mia finds her place in this new place - and makes a lot of friends along the way!

Check out this introduction to Front Desk by Kelly Yang from Scholastic:

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This lesson is the first in a series of three Related Lessons, found in the right-hand sidebar, about Front Desk. In order to complete these lessons, you will need a copy of the book to read.

In this lesson, we will explore the first 20 chapters of Front Desk by completing a story map and starting a character journal.

Story Map

A story map is a graphic organizer that visually displays the elements of a work of fiction.

You can access a blank Story Map, like the one pictured below, under the Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar:

story map

This story map asks you to identify the following elements:


The setting is where the story takes place. This can be the geographical location, like California. It can also be the specific place where the story mostly takes place like a home, business, or place like the Hundred-Acre Wood in Winnie the Pooh.


The characters are the people who the story is about.


The theme of a story is a little deeper than just the topic. This story map asks you to identify both universal and personal truths.

Universal truths are concepts that form our basic, fundamental understanding of right and wrong. Personal truths are concepts that form our identity or development as people.

Problem or Goal

Every story has a problem. There is some challenge or obstacle that must be overcome for the story to reach its closure.

Events or Episodes

These are the key events or episodes that happen in the story to move the plot along. Think about the most important and memorable things that happen in each section.

Resolution or Outcome

How the story is resolved in the end. It can be useful to consider if all the loose ends of the story were tied up neatly, or if the ending left room for interpretation. Sometimes stories don't have a completely clear resolution, and it is left to the reader to determine.

Some of these elements can't be completed until you've finished the entire story, like the resolution or outcome. However, if you keep track of what happens along the way on your Story Map, you'll have a useful tool to refer back to as you read.

reading strategy

  • Are you ready to start reading Front Desk?

Grab your copy of the book and read the first 20 chapters.

  • Are you ready to start your Story Map for Front Desk?

Let's move on to Got It? to get started!

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