Making Curriculum Pop

I know this is broad but I've recently taught Persepolis and I'm currently teaching The Absolutely true Diary of a Part time Indian with my tenth graders.  I'm looking for more text suggestions. My students really are enjoying the young narrators that are close in age to them and I think they are fascinated by learning about different cultures and experiences.  I'd like to keep varying the cultural, ethnic, social perspective of the reading so any ideas would be helpful.  In addition we've been focusing on first person narrative/memoir point of view.

Any ideas?


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Lindsay -- I should post this to the whole group, but here's a link to Harvard CMES's upcoming series of workshops & conferences on GRAPHIC NOVELS, THE MIDDLE EAST, AND MUSLIM COMMUNITIES:
They have an online book group & a series of events planned for Winter-Spring 2011 -- might provide you with some texts & links!
Amazing! Thank you!
My book, La Perdida, is a bit adult, but at least one 10th grade teacher I know of used it very successfully. It would depend on your specific class/school culture, I imagine, whether you would feel comfortable reading it.

Short version: Carla, a Mexican-American woman more identified with her Anglo side decides to decamp for Mexico to search for her "roots". She has a blinkered view of what it means to be Mexican, thus makes a series of horrendous decisions, and falls in with a bad crowd. Tragedy ensues.

OK, it's not a laugh-riot, but def. deals with a lot of cross-cultural issues, and is written in the first person (though is fiction).


Thank you for the recommendation! I tagged your text as a wish list book last week so I'll definitely look into it. Sounds interesting, and I usually push the envelope with my curriculum so hopefully it could work.

I am attaching a link to the autobiographies I have looked at in my blog so far. I think there are a couple of good choices in there, though your mileage may vary with some of the more controversial topics (in a public school at least). Personally, I liked Blankets, Freddie and Me, Pedro and Me, and How I Got to 18 very much. I hope this is helpful :)
I have seen another teacher have great success following Persepolis with a student project of "make your own graphic novel" of an important event in your life. Also, my high school ELLs (9-12) really liked Maus and American Born Chinese, two more excellent graphic novels.
I never thought about having them tell their own story! I have had them do a scene from a short story. Great idea!
You know, Epileptic is an oft-overlooked entry in the memoir genre. It's really amazing, integrating 20th Century French history with the story of the author's brother's disease. The visual metaphors are stunning. I think it's far richer than Persepolis, for example, though of course that's also good, and more "topical," I suppose. It's deep (adult level) reading, but there shouldn't be any public-school acceptability issues.
Check out the titles on the Harvard Center for Middle eastern studies blog for titles as suggested above!
Have you considered "The 99?"  The first installment is available online for free and it teaches a multicultural approach inside a greater concept, unless Islam is a problem in your school district.

I'm currently in the midst of a personal narrative/memoir unit with both my regular junior English & honors English classes using both the traditional personal narrative essay and comics.  My students read Maya Angelou's I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings followed by selections on the craft of writing personal narrative by Vivian Gornick, Frank McCourt, Toni Morrison, et. al.  My students then wrote their own personal narrative essay.  As far as comics go, I prepped them with selections from Scott McCloud and Will Eisner then we read short memoir pieces by Lynda Barry, Rina Piccolo, Nick Bertozzi, Jeffery Brown as well as excerpts from Blankets, Stitches (by David Small), and Laurie Sandell's The Imposter's Daughter.  They begin scripting their comic from their essay today and will then create their comic from that script.  The ideas I want to impart to them are 1) everybody has a story to tell and 2) both mediums (the traditional essay & comics) convey meaning. The kids are really enjoying this unit (so far) and I believe I've converted some of them from non-comics readers to avid readers (Yay!); they keep asking me for comics to read.


Last year, as sophomores, my kids read American Born Chinese so that's why I'm not using it this year and the class I teach is American Lit., hence the lack of Persepolis (which I love and have loaned out to a student).


A good resource for short memoir comics is an anthology called Syncopated.



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