Young Adult Literature
For the young of heart...and book.
Wait, what? A young adult lit course for high school?
That's right. All of our favorite Shmoopers are young at heart, and we wanted to reward you by reopening the door to your favorite YA titles. We'll revisit six classic stories, looking at all of them through the lens of communication. So put the children and adults to bed, and channel your inner young adult—it's time to burn the midnight oil, YA-style.
Unit 1. A Picture's Worth a Thousand Words
Through The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, we'll think about the power of pictures to communicate complex thoughts, ideas, and emotions. We'll also be taking some time to consider all sorts of other big-picture stuff: cultural stereotypes, the struggle between the needs of one person and the needs of a community, and people's fear of "the Other."
Unit 2. Words Will Set You Free
As we read The House on Mango Street, we'll focus on written communication. The book may be short, but it has a lot to say about how we say things.
Unit 3. Finding Your Voice
As we follow Melinda through her freshman year at Merryweather High School in Speak, we're going to think about another means of communication: oral. Yep, that's the spoken stuff.
Unit 4. Good, Evil, and the Power of Words
The Book Thief will bring on more tough stuff, forcing us to think about what happens when our communication is squelched by others. We'll also dig deeper into those Universal Themes you love so much.
Unit 5. The Absence of Words & The End
Author Terry Trueman, whose son, Sheehan, has a severe condition that prevents him from communicating, wrote a novella called Stuck in Neutral. So we're going to finish up our YA Lit course on communication with a character who can't communicate? You betcha.
Sample Lesson - Introduction
Lesson 6: The Truth About Stereotypes
What We Know So Far: Stereotype or Truth?
By now, you know Junior and the world he inhabits like the back of your hand. Or like the back of the head of the kid who sits in front of you in math class (ugh, couldn't he shower more than twice a week?). So let's take a quick look at what facts we've got about Junior's family and some of the other folks who live on the reservation:
- Many of them drink too much.
- Most of them are poor.
- They get into a lot of fights.
- They don't value education.
- Most of them think Junior is betraying his culture and "becoming white" because he leaves the reservation for school.
Overall, not a super hopeful picture. In fact, you might even think that The Absolutely True Diary feeds into stereotypes about American Indians. But wait a second—are these the only things Sherman Alexie has told us about the Spokane Indians and their culture? And of all the things he tells us, how can we distinguish between what's a stereotype and what's true?
Great question—we're glad we asked.
Sample Lesson - Activity
Activity 1.6: Stereotypes: Digging a Little Deeper
What better way to figure out what an author thinks than by hearing him say it in his own words? Thanks to the Internet, we can do just that.
Step 1: Listen to what Sherman Alexie has to say about the stereotypes around Indians and drinking in this interview. Yep, this is the same video you watched earlier in the unit. But this time we only want you to focus on just a quick excerpt: from minute 21:10 - 21:48. Cue it up.
Step 2: Okay, so you heard what Alexie had to say about referring to alcoholism among as Indians a stereotype, and maybe you have something you'd like to say in response. Hold that thought.
Before you comment, read these two articles:
Step 3: Now that you have all that material in your head, it's time to let your thoughts and opinions out. Read the questions below, and post responses (of about 4-6 sentences each) to at least two of the questions on the discussion board.
- Which characteristics of Spokane Indians described in The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian do you think are accurate and which do you think are stereotypes? Why?
- Sherman Alexie said that "Alcoholism is epidemic among Native Americans, and anybody who says otherwise is either drunk, or they're lying." Do you think Rita Piryllis would agree? Why or why not?
- Have you ever been stereotyped? Describe what happened.
- Why do stereotypes exist? Are they ever accurate? Why or why not?
Once you've submitted your responses, check in to see what others have written. Read through your fellow Shmoopers' posts, and ask questions or offer feedback on at least one comment in each of the four questions. For those of you who love math, that's a total of six posts you'll be making (this means you should answer your two questions above in two separate posts).
- Course Length: 18 weeks
- Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10
- Course Type: Elective
Just what the heck is a Shmoop Online Course?
Common Core Standards
The following Common Core Standards are covered in this course:CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.9-10.1