Books for Change

This is the heavy lifting of our work in connecting the Canon of Literature with social action.  We’ve been doing this work for over ten years, and we’ve built it slowly, required novel by required novel, aside from a lot of non-fiction reading away from school.  Our point: take it slow.  This is probably new learning.  Tackle one novel / non-fiction pairing per term.  Share your questions and your successes with us.

Come back weekly, as we build our links into this site–we’re public school teachers, so we do this blog for fun (deep fun, actually), one weekend at a time.  We’ll post the nuts and bolts of our assignments as we progress through the year.  Let us know how you’ve improved our work, so we can learn from you, too.

Required Reading       Global Issue            Partner Book(s)          Action

Native Son




Huck Finn






Human Trafficking

  • Housing Projects;
  • School Districts

Art project on poverty of the human spirit–tenements, prison, and the metaphor of the rat


Speeches, petitions, letter to the editor Argument essays, Justice: speaking on awareness, campaign for human rights, support of local Janus Project; support of Somaly Mam

Of Mice and Men Poverty Letters to Congressman, speech writing; Justice:  KIVA loans; food bank collection, collecting coats, blankets and socks for homeless shelter
Macbeth, Animal Farm Tyrannical World Leaders Researching 20th c. despots (Adopt a Despot Project)
To Kill a Mockingbird Racism in America
In progress
Ender’s Game Child Soldiers Research and papers with presentations on global child soldiersJustice:  support child soldier rehabilitation
The Great Gatsby Poverty
  • Fair Trade
  • KIVA Loans
KIVA  Fair Trade; Action:  Volunteerism at Fair Trade store; Letter to Editor
Speak Women’s Issues Curriculum on video MissReprestation, Girl Rising; speaker from woman’s crisis center; design / write a pamphlet for crisis intervention, Justice:  pies for the crisis center, Mini-Performance Task for Other Side of the Sky
The Diary of Anne Frank Genocide Genocide around the world in the 20th century, Reflective essays on the need to know about our world
Lord of the Flies Bullying in and out of school Justice:  teaching at the middle school or grade school on bullying; iMovie Project: write a screen play and film a pivotal scene–screen movie with a statement for action
Antigone Integrity and character Action:  Sock drive at a local store
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Mental Health
  • Magazine articles and readings
A trip to Oregon State Hospital, Careers in health care
Give a Boy a Gun Is Violence Learned? Anti-bullying campaign; iMovie project: write a screen play and film a pivotal scene–screen movie with a statement for action; Slam Poetry


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