So I had this idea… I recently read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Thomas does an amazing job of tackling the hardest current events and social issues in America. I would recommend that this book be used at a high school level (9th-12 grade) in a social studies class to promote broad-thinking and social awareness.
If you have not read Angie Thomas’s debut novel here is a quick snap-shot:
Starr Carter transitions between two worlds, Garden Heights, her neighborhood notorious for gang violence, and the suburban school she attends. Starr isolates parts of herself, over-analyzing the way she talks, acts, and dresses, in order to be accepted. One night, while Starr was riding home from a party with her estranged childhood best friend, Khalil, they are stopped without a cause by a police officer. Khalil ends up shot, and Starr is the sole witness. Should she speak up for Khalil or should she stay quiet to keep her family and friends safe?
Thomas addresses several social issues including:
- Social justice (or injustice)
- Drug addiction
- Domestic Abuse
- Gang violence
However she addresses these issues in an authentic, original way. While strong language is used throughout, it complements the characters’ voices and provides a credible lens to the story.
If I were to use this text in my classroom, I would first have the students and parents sign a contract explaining some of the issues that the text addresses and why it is a valuable asset to the classroom. I would pair the text with current events as well as articles from Newsela to help create a context for discussion and debate of the social issues and their future ramifications.
Here are a few of the articles I would consider using in my classroom from Newsela:
- John Lewis Blends ’60s Tactics Social Media in New Chapter of ActivismJohn Lewis Blends ’60s Tactics Social Media in New Chapter of Activism
- State of Emergency in North Carolina as Protests Turn Violent
- Violence Against Police Creates Trying Time for Officers and Communities
- Police Department to get More Body Cameras following Shooting
If you have not used Newsela to promote nonfiction reading before, you will be amazed at its features to help modify the content to meet your students’ needs. A few of the features that I enjoy include:
- Adjusting the articles based upon Lexile (same content, different reading level)
- Comprehension questions to help promote discussion
- Writing prompt available for most articles
- Ability to assign articles to students (if you create a classroom)
The Hate U Give is a invaluable resource to broaden our students minds and create mindful, observant citizens who feel emboldened and resilient in times of adversity.