8 Multimedia Resources to Put Joy into Teaching The Joy Luck Club | Refreshing the Canon

The 2023 “Refreshing the Canon” selections by SLJ and NCTE are here. Share these multimedia selections with students reading Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club to help with understanding and enjoyment of the classic book.


Last month, SLJ asked librarians and educators to weigh in on which classics should remain on summer reading lists. Inspired by the most popular titles that emerged, SLJ editors and members of NCTE’s Build Your Stack® Committee have curated this year’s round of “Refreshing the Canon” selections. 

Additionally, we’ve put together multimodal lists of recommendations—including nonfiction, graphic novels, documentaries, and more—that educators can feature in classrooms and libraries alongside the exemplar texts. Our aim is to inspire educators to breathe fresh life into lessons around these works by giving students new context to understand why these classics are still relevant today.

Be sure to check out the 2022 “Refreshing the Canon” lists for more read-alikes of longtime summer reading picks.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan was first published in 1989, but it was arguably the movie adaption in 1993 that accelerated the story's popularity. As the first Hollywood studio film to star an all Asian American cast, it marked an important milestone for diversity in movies. The story's themes of mother-daughter relationships, immigration and culture, and more continue to resonate with readers.

The Joy Luck Club. Hollywood Pictures. 1993.
The movie adaptation of Tan's novel is rated R, so find short clips of particular scenes to share with students.



Mahjong, or mah-jongg, is a game played with tiles that was developed in China. The characters in The Joy Luck Club meet to play mahjong and tell stories. A free online version of the game is available from USA Today, along with instructions on how to play.

TED-Ed Video: Why should you read "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan?

TED Talks are popular videos of experts in different fields talking about one specific thing. This TED-Ed video is a nice three-minute recap of the events in the book with acccompanying animation. Play it in class or during discussion to help reinforce what students have read and perhaps bring in those students who didn't read or fully understand the book.

PBS Memoir: What Was the Joy Luck Club?
In this short (less than two minute) video clip, Amy Tan's childhood friend shares her memories of their parents' friendship and their own Joy Luck Club. This short snippet can be shown during class discussion and is a great way to give context to the story.

The Rock Bottom Remainders

Author Amy Tan is part of a rock band of authors, including Mitch Albom, Dave Barry, Stephen King, and more. The band, as they explain on their web site, has "no music videos, no record contract, no Grammy® nominations—but do have over 159,000 hits on Google." NPR has a video of them singing "Sloop John B" that will be fun for students to watch.

The Astonishing Color of After
by Emily X.R Pan. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316463997.
Gr 9 Up-After her mother's suicide, Leigh travels to Taipei to stay with her maternal grandparents, with whom she can barely communicate. There she embarks on a fervent and grief-stricken odyssey riddled with insomnia and confusion, piecing together her mother's past by lighting magical incense sticks that allow her to witness fragments of others' memories.

This book has some similar themes as The Joy Luck Club, including the mother-daughter relationship.


Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937–1945 by Rana Mitter. Houghton Harcourt. ISBN 9780618894253.
In China, the War of Patriotic Resistance Against Japan started in 1937. By 1941, China, at stunning cost in life and by trading land for time, had fought the Japanese invaders to a standstill. The war was a Darwinian test of adaptation in which Mao's Communist Party and his People's Liberation Army evolved into the instruments of power that transformed China after 1949.

Pull an exceprt from this book about the war that the main character's mother was fleeing to share with students.


Graphic Novel
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang. First Second. ISBN 9781250811899.
Yang's story of Chinese American student Jin Yang comes together with two others in this graphic novel that won the Printz Award and was a National Book Award finalist. A TV adaption is streaming in spring on Disney+.

Yang's novel shares similar themes around immigration and culture as Tan's, providing a more recent story for students to connect with The Joy Luck Club.



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