It began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way Lesson Activity

Book promotion for the picture book It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way by Kyo Maclear.


Gyo Fujikawa did not see herself in the pages of picture books. She knew this was a problem. In the book It Began With a Page, we learn how Fujikawa paved the way for racial inclusion in picture books. The lesson activity invites learners to share titles that helped them learn about themselves and the world around them.


It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way is a fascinating story about an important woman. Fujikawa was born and raised in California in the early 1900s. She loved drawing, and home was a place where she could fill pages of paper with pictures. Her parents encouraged her by supplying drawing tools and books.

At school, Fujikawa’s classmates paid no attention to her or her drawings. She felt invisible in her school where most of the children were white. One teacher noticed her artwork, and found funding to enroll Fujikawa in art school. Fujikawa’s studies led her to a career in illustration.

Fujikawa continued to be struck by racial injustice throughout her life. During World War II, her family was sent to a Japanese American interment camp. In the early 1960s, she recognized the injustice of segregation. These events compelled her to write and illustrate books featuring children of different races together on the same page. Fujikawa met resistance about her multi-racial books. She insisted that these books mattered. She was right, and her book were a hit.

Readers will enjoy learning how one person made a difference in the picture book industry. Fujikawa’s life was full, and author Kyo Maclear does a great job telling the story to young readers. The illustrations by Julie Morstad are gorgeous. Some of the drawings are black and white. Other illustrations have color. This technique engages readers to look closely at what the illustrator wants to convey by using different art styles. The end result is a book you’ll appreciate every time you share it with your class.

Lesson Activity

AASL Standards Framework for Learners: Include/Think ll.A.3 Learners contribute a balanced perspective when participating in a learning community by describing their understanding of cultural relevancy and placement within the global learning community.

Gyo Fujikawa understood why all races need to be represented in picture books. Children want to see themselves in books and make connections with the stories. Discuss the questions below while reading It Began With a Page.

Questions While Reading
  • “After reading the title and looking at the book jacket and cover, what do you suppose this story is about?” (cover)
  • “What questions do have about the object drawn on the title page?” (title page)
  • “What did you learn about Gyo’s family on these pages?”(pgs.1-2)
  • “What can we learn from the illustrations on these pages? Why do you suppose they are in black and white? (pgs. 3-4)
  • “What do you notice about Gyo’s drawing implement?” (pg. 8)
  • “What is happening on these pages? How does Gyo feel about the way she’s being treated? How do you know?” (pgs. 9-10)
  • “What do you notice about this double-page spread? How does it compare to the previous double-page spread? What do you think the illustrator is trying to tell us with these illustrations?” (pgs. 11-12)
  • “How would you describe Gyo’s classmates? How do you know this?” (pg. 13)
  • “What did we learn about Gyo on these pages? Why do you suppose the author wrote about this?” (pgs. 14-22)
  • “What questions do you have about the information on these pages?” (pgs. 23-33)
  • “What do you notice on this page? What questions do you have?” (pg. 34)
  • “What did we learn about what picture books?” (pg. 36)
  • “How do you think Gyo felt about what the publisher told her about her book? How do you know?” (pg. 38)
  • “Why was it important for Gyo’s book to get published? How do you know? (pg. 39-42)
  • “What do you think about the title after reading the story? Does the title capture what the story is about? Explain your answer with examples from It Began With a Page.”
Questions After Reading

Discuss how Fujikawa wanted all children to see themselves in books. Some people refer to these books as “mirrors”. Ask learners to think of a book where they saw themselves in the book. How did the book help them learn more about themselves?

Explain how some books are referred to as “windows”. Books can provide windows to the lives of different people and places. Ask learners to share titles of books that helped them learn more about the world around them. Invite them to share what they learned.

Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop first described books as windows, mirrors and sliding glass doors. Click here to read more about her great work.


Find a worksheet for It Began With a Page below.

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