Note: Do you remember what it was like the first time you read a book that you couldn’t put down? My students have only begun to discover books that capture their imaginations. Reading is like a passport for a child to travel as far as their imagination will take them. Students need to see a world outside their own in order to gain better perspective about life as well as their future aspirations. I select books that push my students to think beyond their years. It is my hope that they will be exposed to similar literature in the future and be able to comprehend the material with ease.
“A sixteen year old boy named Steve Harmon finds himself on trial for murder after he is accused as acting as a lookout for the young men who actually commit a robbery at a Harlem drugstore and kill the store owner. The story is presented predominantly from his own viewpoint in the form of a screenplay and journal entries he writes, as he faces the trial and possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison.”
- “The society Lowry depicts in The Giver is a utopian society—a perfect world as envisioned by its creators. It has eliminated fear, pain, hunger, illness, conflict, and hatred—all things that most of us would like to eliminate in our own society. But in order to maintain the peace and order of their society, the citizens of the community in The Giver have to submit to strict rules governing their behavior, their relationships, and even their language. Individual freedom and human passions add a chaotic element to society, and in The Giver even the memory of freedom and passion, along with the pain and conflict that human choice and emotion often cause, must be suppressed. In effect, the inhabitants of the society, though they are happy and peaceful, also lack the basic freedoms and pleasures that our own society values.
“The Pearl is a novella by American author John Steinbeck, published in 1947. It is the story of a pearl diver, Kino, and explores man’s nature as well as greed and evil. Steinbeck’s inspiration was a Mexican folk tale from La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico, which he had heard in a visit to the formerly pearl-rich region in 1940. Steinbeck wrote The Pearl based on his personal convictions, and based the story on the biblical parable of a ‘pearl of great price.’ In this story, a jewel for which the merchant trades everything he owns becomes the metaphor for Heaven. Everything in the merchant’s earthly existence, however, becomes worthless when compared to the joys of living with God in Heaven. However, Steinbeck uses the parable as a meditation on the American dream of success. Steinbeck, who himself had risen quickly to prosperity, explores how Kino, the protagonist of The Pearl, deals with his newfound prominence in the community and riches.”
“There is an old fisherman in Cuba, Santiago, who has gone eighty-four days without a catch. He is “thin and gaunt with deep wrinkles in the back of his neck,…and his hands had deep-creased scars from handling heavy fish on the cords. But none of these scars were fresh. They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert” (10). Santiago’s lack of success, though, does not destroy his spirit, as his “cheerful and undefeated” eyes show (10). He has a single friend, a boy named Manolin, who helped him during the first forty days of his dry spell. After forty days, though, Manolin’s parents decided the old man was unlucky and ordered their son to join another boat. Despite this, the boy helps the old man to bring in his empty boat every day.”