Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Teach Me Something New

For this week's Top Ten Tuesday, I decided to look at books which I would want to put in my curriculum if I end up teaching high school English (it's what my original degree is in after all). Sometimes I'm reading a book, and I'm like this book makes me wish I was a teacher again. And this week's TTT is going to feature ten of those.

The Port Chicago 50: Apparently I only gave this book four stars? WHAT WAS I THINKING, PAST-ME?? This book is incredible. It may also have some flaws, but the great thing about teaching is you get to point out both good and bad parts.

The Book Thief: I know that The Diary of Anne Frank is typically taught as the "WWII" book, but my question is why can't we have more than one? I mean, I did get a little burned out on WWII when I was in school because I felt that it was the only war we learned about. Obviously it was atrocious, and we do need to learn about to see what can happen when we don't question those in power (although WWII is not the only case where that has occurred). But this book is so beautifully and interestingly written, and I think that students could really connect with it. I know that some teachers are already using it--I just hadn't seen it used when I was going through the program and student teaching.

American Born Chinese: I know this book is being used in lots of classrooms now, but it's one that I hadn't even heard of before I started working in a bookstore. And I think it's being used often because it's worth teaching. It really encompasses the feeling of being an outsider which is something every one can connect with whether they are a "minority" or not. I also think it's important to include diverse books in the curriculum, and I think using graphic novels creates another entry point for students.

Locomotion: While some people might argue that the reading level for this is below high school, I'd argue that there are a lot of people not at high school reading level who are in high school. I also think this story is not restricted by age. It'd be a phenomenal book to use alongside a poetry unit to teach poem forms.

Persepolis: Another nonfiction book, but this one is a memoir and a graphic novel. It's also by an Iranian woman which is a viewpoint rarely represented in high school texts.

Monster: I know this one is also used in schools, but it wasn't in my schooling or program. I definitely think it should be. It's writing style is attention catching (part journal, part screenplay). The story is scarily relevant to today's society (11 years after it was published). It would provide a lot of discussion.

Never Fall Down: Although this is called "a novel", it's much closer to being a memoir. It's based on true facts, but McCormick occasionally took some artistic license to recreate conversations which Arn Chorn-Pond couldn't quite recall. It also talks about a subject that's rarely broached in average high school history classrooms : The Cambodian Genocide of 1975-1979 and the labor camps of the Khmer Rouge.

Nothing but the Truth: Another non-traditional writing style. This book would be great for talking about spread of information. It's a look at media studies and interpretation without really involving current media. It'd be a great unit to read alongside looking at advertising and popular culture and news and biases.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: This book would be a tricky one to teach. It touches on a lot of important but sensitive subjects: racism, sexism, and slavery to name a few. But I also think it could be really beneficial to have students read and talk about it.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: I actually did teach this one while I was student teaching, and let me tell you, I cannot explain how awkward and hilarious it is to say the word boner 23 times in one class period. But I do honestly think it's an important and necessary narrative to share. It would be interesting to do this alongside American Born Chinese for comparisons of the dangers of stereotyping (whether negative or positive portrayals).

What about you lovelies? Do I have any teachers out there who would agree with me? Or horrified by my choices? Let me know in the comments!

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