Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution

Common Sense Media says

Devastating portrait of brutal political movement.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Will make readers curious to know more about the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Parents and teachers may want to check out the author's website to help readers put the book in some context.

Positive messages

A poignant memoir of one person's experiences during China's cultural revolution. Themes of faith, strength and courage lighten up what can only be described as a difficult experience.

Positive role models

She is a true hero who shows great courage. Readers will appreciate that she honestly relates her experiences as a child a complicated time, her growing conclusions about what was happening
around her -- and the difficult choices she had to make.

Violence

Ji-Li's grandmother is slapped in the face. Descriptions of beatings and suicides are included.

Sex

Not an issue.

Language

Mild expletives are used several times.

Consumerism

Not an issue.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Not an issue.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this a memoir of a girl growing up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and includes details about beatings and suicides. Ji-Li Jiang paints a clear and devastating portrait of a brutal
political movement that ruined many lives -- and had a deep impact on
her own family. The engaging story makes young readers want to know more
about the subject . The foreign words and phrases in this book can be confusing, though the glossary is helpful.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In her memoir of growing up in Shanghai during China's Cultural Revolution, Ji-Li Jiang paints a clear and devastating portrait of a brutal political movement that ruined many lives -- and had a deep impact on her own family. The engaging story makes young readers want to know more about the subject.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Torn by conflicting emotions, author Ji-Li Jiang is the perfect guide to the complexities of the Cultural Revolution, which many readers will encounter for the first time here. She struggles to be a good Communist almost to the end of the book, even trying at one point to change her name to avoid being identified with the landlord Jiangs. At the same time, Ji-Li is too intelligent to ignore the ironies and contradictions in her tormentors' dogma. Jiang's writing sometimes strains for effect, and the narrative ends abruptly, but the story is engaging.  She is a true hero who honestly relates her experiences as a child in a complicated time, her growing conclusions about what was happening around her -- and the difficult choices she had to make.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about personal memoirs. How do stories like this impact the way we learn history? What are the advantages and disadvantages in learning about events this way?

  • Also, can you think of other memoirs by young people who lived through dramatic or terrifying events? What are some other historical autobiographies you would be interested in? Check out Common Sense Media list of recommended books on this page for some ideas.

Book details

Author:Ji-Li Jiang
Genre:History
Book type:Non-Fiction
Publisher:HarperTrophy
Publication date:January 1, 1997
Number of pages:285
Publisher's recommended age(s):10

This review of Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old July 19, 2014
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Really awesome

I think this is an emotional book and I like how it is actually REAL, and it makes everything clear about the Cultural Revolution. I read this book when my mom bought it when I was nine and I'm Chinese so my grandma told MY mom that the Cultural Revolution took most things wrong. I think this book explains that. Also to parents, I have no idea why people think this is for ages 12+. I understood it perfectly fine when I was 9 years old. The only thing bad about this book was that I think the ending was huge cliffhanger, although it did explain a little at the epilogue.
What other families should know
Educational value
Teen, 16 years old Written byhotfertea February 16, 2009
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

I got bored

This book is very boring. I do feel pity for her life and what happened but she makes it sound so boring. If you have no life or friends or awareness of whats fun, then read this book. For those of you in touch with reality, don't read it, it's very boring and the name Grandpa Hong made me crack up. By the way, Ji-Li Jiang has very bad grammar.
Adult Written bytommysportsgirl April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

A life-changing book!

Every American child should read this!! This is one of those books you can never forget- sad, moving, and heart-breaking!

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