The 6th grade year begins with a study of culture, racism and segregation through the book, Maniac Magee. From there, we will study Jerry Spinelli, author of Maniac Magee. Students will read some of his other fiction, including an historical fiction about the Holocaust and real-life fiction about facing life and the challenges of growing up. During our study of culture, students will read fiction that takes place in other countries during modern times. These books give students a glimpse into life in another culture and country.
The Lit course for the 7th graders has two basic functions
- To help create readers who can thinking deeply and write analytically about their reading as well as make connections to real life
- Develop technical writing skills that will help them communicate effectively with the world and prepare them for high school.
Much of the reading they will do during the 7th grade year focuses on equity, perspective, and the individual within a larger community. Students are asked to consider the essential question, “what makes a community equitable” through readings, writings, discussion and the creation of a utopian community. Readings include a combination of The Giver and Messenger both by Lois Lowry, House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelson, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, and Witness by Karen Hesse.
The 7th grade class writes and directs dramatic vignettes based on a more equitable rewriting of common fairy tales such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Little Red Riding Hood, and Three Billy Goats Gruff.
Eighth grade lit focuses on the concepts of Self (identity) and Other (empathy). During Self we explore what we need to be happy and good. Readings are used as jumping off points for understanding our own motivations and needs. In Other we work on listening deeply- to characters in books, to each other, and to strangers- in order to understand what goes on for them. All reading is accompanied by both projects and reflection.
Readings include a play (Raisin In The Sun), graphic novels (American Born Chinese and Persepolis), a novel (The Diary of Adrian Mole), biography (The American Teenager, The Freedom Writers Diary, Our America), non fiction (Black Like Me, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Holding On), and selected short stories and poetry.*
*Authors in order: Lorraine Hansberry, Gene Yang, Marjane Satrapi, Sue Townsend, Robin Bowman, Erin Gruwell, LeAlan Jones, John Howard Griffin, James Agee, and David Isay.