All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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Contemporary Prejudice

These books feature teens examining their own beliefs and values in the face of religious, cultural, racial and gender discrimination. Titles complement history units on World War II and the Holocaust. This list is excerpted from Dr. Joan Kaywell's latest volume in her series Adolescent Literacy as a Complement to the Classics.

The Revealers

Age Level: 12-14

For those students who just don't understand how the desensitization of people for people begins, this book will show bullies in action and the complicit nature of others who allow it to happen. A reference to Anne Frank is made midway through the book. For another book that examines the inner workings of the bully mentality, consider Jerry Spinelli's Crash.

Grace in the Wilderness: After the Liberation 1945-1948

Grace in the Wilderness: After the Liberation 1945-1948

Age Level: 14-16

Piri, now 17, resides with a Swedish family while she searches for news of family and friends who also might have survived the Nazi concentration camps. Although the Swedes accept her as their own daughter, she strives to hold on to her own identity and dreams of finding her blood relatives. The novel is dedicated to the many people who assisted the Jews in their efforts to find their families after the war.

Never Mind the Goldbergs

Never Mind the Goldbergs

Age Level: 14-16

Seventeen-year-old New Yorker Hava Aaronson is an Orthodox Jew who lives an unorthodox lifestyle in the world of punk. She's "discovered" and given the chance to go to Hollywood in order to play the part of an Orthodox Jew on a TV show about a modern American Orthodox Jewish family. The problem is she is the only Jewish person on the show which forces her to examine her beliefs more closely.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Age Level: 14-16

Originally written in German, this English translation sets the stage for a contemporary controversy that could erupt in any unsuspecting family of German descent. When the protagonist, Johanna, goes on a class trip to Israel, she learns about the anti-Semitic laws that enabled her grandfather, Erhard Riemenschneider, to "acquire" their family business from a Jewish family. What would you do if you discovered your grandfather was an enthusiastic Nazi supporter?

Child of Dandelions

Child of Dandelions

Age Level: 14-16

In 1972, President Ida Amin had a dream that he believed was a message from God. Based on that dream, this dictator decides to eliminate all foreign Indians — the "Jews of Uganda" — in 90 days. Fifteen-year-old Sabine thinks that she and her family will be spared since they are citizens of Uganda, but eventually no one is spared from the effects of this mandate. When there is a governmental shift in power by an extremist, no one is spard.

Silver Rights

Silver Rights

Age Level: 16-18

Mae and Matthew Carter want something more for their children than life on the cotton fields, so they decide to send 7 of their 13 children to an all-white school for a better education when Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed in Sunflower County, Mississippi. Unfortunately, the Carter children were the only blacks who chose to integrate and claim their civil rights.

Fire from the Rock

Fire from the Rock

Age Level: 9-12

Imagine being asked to be one of the first black students to integrate an all-white school in the Fifties. Such is the case for Sylvia Patterson when she must decide whether or not to be an agent of social change or to stay in the comfort of her inferior all-black school. Readers may want to refer to Melba Pattillo Beals's memoir Warriors Don’t Cry, for her personal account of what happened when she was one of the nine teenagers who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957.

The Complete Persepolis

The Complete Persepolis

Age Level: 16-18

Marjane Satrapi's memoir of her childhood in Iran during the Islamic Revolution is beautifully rendered in this graphic novel series.