One Thousand Cranes

Ms. Moore’s students recently read a book about Sadako Sasaki, a lively, athletic, middle school student in 1950s Japan. Sadako was the star of her school’s running team; then the dizzy spells started. The young girl was diagnosed with leukemia, an aftereffect of the atom bomb that fell on her hometown of Hiroshima when she was only two years of age.

Sadako approaches her illness as she did her running—with irrepressible spirit. Inspired by a Japanese legend claiming that anyone who folds one thousand origami cranes would be granted a wish, Sadako begins folding. Her wish: to be healthy again so she can be part of her running team.

In the re-telling of the story written by Eleanor Coerr, Sadako does not manage to fold one thousand cranes before her death. According to her family, however, Sadako exceeded her goal having folded approximately 1,400 paper cranes. The family donated some of her cranes at places of importance around the world, including the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor and the September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City.

Sadako’s resilient spirit and her origami cranes inspired her friends and classmates to raise money for a monument for Sadako and other children who died as a result of atomic bombings. Since 1958, thousands have visited the statue in Hiroshima, covering it with countless paper cranes. At the foot of the statue is a plaque that reads, “This is our cry. This is our prayer. Peace in the world.”

After reading and discussing the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, Ms. Moore’s students spent a class period learning how to fold origami cranes, considering the time and the patience required to fold 1,000 or more.


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