•The content area of this text set is English because these books can be used as gateways into writing. The topic is bullying. Bullying is an issue present in every school today whether it be verbal or physical. By reading, discussion, and writing about the books in this text set, the students who are being bullied may realize they are not alone and that there are outlets for their feelings and the students who are the bullies may have the opportunity to step into the victim’s shoes and acknowledge their feelings and struggles. •This text set would be beneficial for middle schools students in grades 8 or 9. These texts would work well with any population of students because of their ability to touch every student differently. •“The purpose of using text sets rather than textbooks, worksheets, and lectures is to support an inquiry model that will spark interest, questions, and engagement; facilitate inter-textual connections; offer information from a variety of perspectives; and reinforce the interrelatedness of reading writing, speaking, listening, and thinking.” Freedman, Lauren. “The Way School Should Be: Navigating Learning with Text Sets.” The Way School Should Be: Navigating Learning with Text Sets. Worlds of Words, Web. 12 Nov. 2012. .
II. Content Area Text Set •Lord of the Flies by William Golding Golding, William. Lord of the Flies. New York: Coward-McCann, 1962. Print. o“Lord of the Flies by William Golding is a classic piece which features many examples of bullying. The older boys in the story continuously use the littluns for amusement purposes, torturing and picking on them just because they are smaller. Although this story is an extreme example of bullying in schools, the abuse of power can be easily examined. Similarly, Jack and Ralph constantly experience a power struggle, Ralph using his views of civilization and respect to lead the boys, and Jack who wants to take over and turn the group into savage hunters. The majority of bullying in Lord of the Flies is physical; the boys throw rocks at the littluns, they physically take Piggy’s glasses, and Jack uses torture to gain information.”
Billings, Anna. “Overcoming Bullying.” San Jose State University. 29 Nov. 2011. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. .
•Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson Anderson, Laurie Halse. Speak. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999. Print. o“Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is a powerful story in young adult fiction. While the book is witty and easy to read, the themes are mature and realistic and good reading for teenagers. The book handles the topics of rape, the effects of teenage depression, peer pressure, and bullying with sensitivity, but it pulls no punches. It is not the usual coming of age story. Ninth grader Melinda Sordino is raped at an end of summer party by upper classman Andy Evans. Melinda calls the police to get help but when they arrive no one knows about the rape and it appears Melinda just called because there was underage drinking. Unable to give a reason for her actions, her friends ostracize her. This causes Melinda to spiral down into a depression that lasts her entire school year. Because Melinda does not and seemingly cannot speak out, she is subjected to bullying and isolation.” Finnegan, Linda. “Literary Analysis: Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson.” Helium. N.p., 10 Aug. 2010. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. .
•The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier Cormier, Robert. The Chocolate War: A Novel. [New York]: Pantheon, 1974. Print. o“The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier comments on peer pressure, nonconformity, bullying and harassment. It provides an opportunity to explore issues related to bullying and harassment that focus on the role of the bystander. Students come to understand the powerful influence bystanders have on decreasing bullying and harassment. They are encouraged to think about and take action to intervene when they witness abuse of this nature. A central question the novel asks is, ‘Should one stand up for others or avoid being involved and suffer inevitable rejection and taunting?’” Stein, Paula. “A Novel Study: The Chocolate War and Bullying: The Role and Responsibilities of Bystanders.” Wolf Creek Public Schools. The Society for Safe and Caring Schools and Communities. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. .
•Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky o“Written as a collection of letters from Charlie to an unnamed person, the story touches on various turbulent issues in a young adult’s life. From the beginning, the reader learns that Charlie is dealing with some powerful topics, including the recent suicide of his only friend and a recent spell at a mental facility following the death of his beloved Aunt Helen. Soon after school begins, it becomes apparent Charlie will not be part of the popular clique. Charlie is socially awkward (as are many teens), and his various attempts to participate leave him confused, frustrated, depressed. Luckily, he is adopted by a group of other “outsiders” who go to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show every Friday, and soon provide a way for Charlie to “fully participate”, as recommended by his beloved English teacher. Charlie manages to encounter almost every coming of age issue in the span of one school year. Awkwardness, self-doubt, drug and sexual experimentation, abusive relationships, teen pregnancy, bullying, homosexuality, suicide, depression, homophobia, and peer pressure are all part of Charlie’s roller-coaster freshman year. The wide variety of topics covered ensures that most, if not all teen readers will find something that they can relate to.” “Growing Up Charlie.” Young Adult Literature Reviews. Wikispaces, n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. .
•Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher Crutcher, Chris. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes. New York, NY: Greenwillow, 1993. Print. o“Poignant, moving, and deep, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes bravely addresses controversial and mature subject matter. Chronic and extreme child abuse is at the heart of this story and horrific instances are detailed. A main character was intentionally burned by her father, who further refused plastic surgery for her in order to make her tough. Public humiliation, extreme bullying, and vengeful pranks all take place. Serious issues such as abortion, suicide, religion, and moral beliefs are debated and discussed in a high school class.” “Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher.” StorySnoops Children’s Book Reviews. Web. 12 Nov. 2012. .
•Dreamland by Sarah Dessen Dessen, Sarah. Dreamland: A Novel. New York: Viking, 2000. Print. o“In this riveting novel, Sarah Dessen searches for understanding and answers through the mind of a young girl who suddenly finds herself in a trap of constant menace, a trap that is baited with love and need. More and more she must frantically manage her every action to avoid being hit by the hands that had seemed so gentle. All around Caitlin are women who care—best friends, mother, sister, mentor—but she can confide in none of them, especially not Cass, her brilliant older sister, whose own flight from home had seemed to point the way for Caitlin.” Campbell, Patty. “Dreamland by Sarah Dessen Reading Guide.” Penguin. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. .
•Brave New Girl by Louisa Luna Luna, Louisa. Brave New Girl. New York: Pocket, 2001. Print. o“A fourteen-year-old trying to find her way in the world, Doreen is as much an outcast at school as she is at home. Marginalized by her peers, misunderstood by her parents, and mourning the loss of her older brother who disappeared when she was just a child, Doreen finds solace in her fierce love of music and in her best friend, Ted. But when her older sister begins dating a bewildering twenty-one-year-old named Matthew, Doreen must confront feelings she never knew she possessed. Forced into adulthood kicking and screaming (not to mention swearing), Doreen ultimately impels her troubled family to forge a new understanding of the world — and, maybe more surprisingly, of one another. High school is bad enough; it’s worse when you have only one friend in the world and a family that just doesn’t get it. This breathless coming-of-age novel explores the alienation of adolescence and introduces a bold and shimmering new voice in fiction.” “Brave New Girl.” Amazon.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. .
•StopBullying.gov o“StopBullying.gov provides information from various government agencies on what bullying is, what cyberbullying is, who is at risk, and how you can prevent and respond to bullying.” “About Us.” StopBullying.gov. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2012. . oThis website would be a great tool for students to perform a webquest in order to gain more information on bullying. It would be beneficial to begin the unit on bullying by having students research the facts on this site so that students will gain perspective on the issue before reading about it.