Thursday, August 11, 2011

Part-Time Indian and a Kid with Cerebral Palsy

Around August, I normally start to think about school. I think about school in excited anticipation of helping students to love literature and then for them to turn around and use the literature as a vehicle to do some self-reflection. There is lots to learn about yourself from a good book.

This year, with my 9th graders, I really want to shake up their curriculum a little. I always do the classic with them: Lord of the Flies, Night, Romeo and Juliet. But this year, we are going to unexplored territories. Hopefully, we will add to our readings The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and Stuck in Neutral.

The main character in Part-Time Indian is a cartoonist,
and here is one of his sketches. Hilarious!!!

On the plane headed to Georgia, I was reading The Absolutely True Story of A Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Let me just say that this book had me laughing out loud. People sitting near me wanted to know "What are you reading?"

The author, Sherman Alexie, writes this novel from the perspective of a twelve year old Indian boy who lives on an Indian Reservation in Spokane.  He deals with very complex themes in a comical fashion: being different, leaving what you know to pursue a better life, Indians as mascots, Indians getting money from Casinos, and also many other issues that a Native American kid may face.

Now, this is definitely a book written for early adults, but I really believe that anyone who reads this book, will walk away with much to think about. I know that I did.

So, now I have to think about how I am going to present this novel so that all students feel welcomed and not targeted............

I also finished Stuck In Neutral while on my small vacation in Georgia.

Stuck in Neutral is also written from the perspective of a fourteen year old boy who has cerebral palsy. To the world and his doctors, it appears that this kid is a vegetable. However, from the kid's perspective, the reader sees that he understands everything that is going on around him and is quite smart. However, his father is contemplating killing him..........

This is also a book that deals with very serious issues in a comical way. I get goose bumps thinking about the lively discussions that I know this book will generate.

So, both of these novel are for young adults, but I recommend them for everyone, you know I can be dramatic, but I really do mean everyone.

Learning and self-reflection should not stop until we die, and I hope that it does not stop then.

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