The atrocities Japanese soldiers committed in China during the 1930s are well documented. Various Japanese textbooks, however, have downplayed or overlooked the scale and scope of these events. In this lesson, students examine how two textbooks – one Japanese and the other Chinese – depict what happened during the Japanese occupation of Nanking. Students then corroborate each textbook with an excerpt from historian Jonathan Spence’s The Search for Modern China.

We thank Riverside Unified School District for sharing their Spanish translation with us.


I teach newcomer high schoolers, so very beginning English learners, and, while I adapted the text a little to support them, this lesson was still AMAZING for helping my students consider historical perspective. Thank you!
My kids sometimes struggle with dense, archaic, primary sources that require them to have tons of background knowledge. This activity is TOTALLY not like that, as they picked up the biases very quickly and had fun picking out the evidence from the two texts.
This lesson is an excellent way to teach how perspectives are so different between enemies. The kids were very engaged and worked in pairs on the readings. I even had a student take the resources to work on a paper in English, which I believe really shows that she was applying what she learned. Well put together. Can't wait to try the Cultural Revolution lesson!
I did the Invasion of NanKing lesson and it worked wonderfully. The kids were engaged and gave great answers - And asked a lot of their own questions!!! I can't wait to try more lessons!
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