African American Young Adult Literature

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by ChangeAgent, Oct 16, 2007.

  1. ChangeAgent

    ChangeAgent Comrade

    Jun 1, 2007
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    Oct 16, 2007

    I have taken two courses on African American literature (one overview course in undergrad, one graduate course on passing narratives), and since I have that background, I decided to tie up a nonfiction and short story unit using African American literature (combing both types--a slave narrative, a biography, a couple short stories, an essay, current news articles, etc.). I do have a learning support class, but I decided to theme it around African American literature.

    However, I'd also like to read a novel (or attempt literature circles). Does anyone have any suggestions for 9th grade African-American literature? A couple grade levels lower would be okay. I know literature, but am not familiar with too many young adult African American novels.

    Our school does have selections by Walter Dean Myers (Bad Boy: A Memoir and Autobiography of My Dead Brother), as well as a biography (and that reading level is lower than the novels, which could work best with those who are the lowest readers). We also have My Jim (a retelling of Jim's mother from Twain's Huckleberry Finn) offered.

    Mixing the content with reading level is my difficulty, and the fact that I am not thoroughly familiar with African American Young Adult Literature. Whether you've read them in class and can offer insights, or just have titles, I'd appreciate it. Thanks in advance.
  3. roamer

    roamer Companion

    Apr 4, 2007
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    Oct 16, 2007

    Bud, Not Buddy! Love it! It's a little below their reading level, but you said that was ok. Accelerated Reader lists it as RL 5.0.

    Another one is The Watsons go to Birmingham - 1963. They're both by the same author, Christopher Paul Curtis. I prefer Bud, Not Buddy, but they're both good.

    I just finished Gary Paulson's Nightjohn. The words are way lower than your group - at a 3.7 according to AR, but with the dialect and content it's a lot higher than 3rd grade level. It might be good for your bunch, but read it first, as it's set during slave times and mentions "breeding."

    I've heard good things about Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, but I haven't read it so I can't necessarily recommend it.

    Good luck!
  4. dehabel

    dehabel Rookie

    Feb 17, 2005
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    Oct 18, 2007

    Copper Sun by Sharon Drapery is a story about the Middle Passage and what happens to a girl named Amari once she is taken in as a slave. Mya tenth graders love it, it is by Sharon Draper.

    Good Luck!
  5. Mrs.G

    Mrs.G Rookie

    Aug 6, 2007
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    Oct 21, 2007

    I know that Walter Dean Myers is an excellent writer and wrote a compelling text about a young black male locked up for murder. The title is Monster and it is amazing. There is also a series of books by Sharon Draper, one of the books being Tears of A Tiger, they are also very compelling.

    Depending on how mature your students are you could even look at introducing Toni Morrison's works or Zora Neal Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. I know these authors may seem a bit advance for nineth grade, but I selected chapters from Sula and did a read aloud with 8th graders and they loved it. I guess you just need to do a really good book talk before hand to get the students engaged.

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