Purpose: Classic literary authors (Shakespeare, Miller, Hurston, Morrison, Faulkner, Austen, Hemingway, Wright, and Brontë, just to name a few) are studied in classrooms every day across the country. Their texts have been used for years, and for good reason: the writing is exemplary, the characters are universal yet complex, and the themes touch on all aspects of humanity. We know, however, that in addition to these canonical texts, there are many contemporary books that address some of the same themes and conflicts and are written for younger audiences. We believe these text pairings—whether for small reading groups in the classroom or as independent reading—will enhance the reader’s experience by drawing parallels with the themes and archetypes of the classics.
To help spread the word about these text pairings, we have created a Teach-Alike blog that will be posted on our website every other month. If you have any creative suggestions, requests for specific texts, or reviews of the pairs read together, we would love to hear from you! You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy, and keep reading!
August Teach-Alike: The Future Is Female! Using Female-Centric Texts to Educate and Inspire Readers of All Ages
Using texts in classrooms—from picture books in preschool to novels and essays in college—that offer a variety of perspectives is not only important but necessary. This includes, but is not limited to, texts featuring different genders, races, religions, ethnicities, and sexualities.
The phrase “the future is female” has been around since the 1970s, but it gained widespread momentum and popularity with the most recent presidential election. Female leadership is on the rise in our historically male-dominated world, and it is important to expose students to the idea of equality at an early age. Texts featuring strong female characters have long been staples in the classroom environment, because teachers know how important it is to expose their students to texts that accurately reflect our society and provide positive role models for all. We’ve been captivated by the spunk of Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking series, the tenacity of Shabanu in Suzanne Fisher Staples’s Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind, and, of course, the unbreakable spirit of Louisa May Alcott’s Jo from Little Women. Using these classics in the classroom allows students to understand a history of female voices, and pairing them with contemporary texts will reinforce that the future is, in fact, right now.
Wonder Woman: Warbringer By Leigh Bardugo
For young adult readers: Wonder Woman: Warbringer (8/29/2017). Who doesn’t love Wonder Woman? She’s been a cultural icon for seventy-five years, and for good reason. In this story by #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo, Diana, the young Amazon princess, has entered a race in the Amazons’ games, and losing isn’t an option. But during the race, Diana sees something that will change the future. Armed with her Lasso of Truth and her bulletproof bracelets, Diana sets off on an adventure to right the wrongs that have been committed, discovering friendship and betrayal as she learns what it means to be a true hero.
To incorporate Wonder Woman: Warbringer into your classroom, assign the text as a small-group reading book in a unit where students are learning about character growth. Have students trace Diana’s intent, mistakes, lessons learned, and ultimate success as the story unfolds.
Bonus Content: See the film!
Lemons By Melissa Savage
For middle-grade readers: Lemons (5/2/2017). Debut author Melissa Savage has written a charming, voice-driven novel filled with adventure about a girl who needs to rebuild her life, and the quirky neighbor she befriends as they go on a search for Bigfoot. Yes, you read that correctly: Bigfoot. Lemonade Liberty Witt’s mother always told her: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But now her mom is dead and those lemons have grown so big that she’s forgotten her recipe. Lemons is about navigating relationships and embarking on adventures, and also about a young girl learning to overcome some of life’s ugliest messes and finding confidence within herself.
For a classroom lesson, use this novel in a unit where students learn about the importance of time and setting. (Hint: both play a big role in this adventure!)
Bonus Content: Learn more about the history of Bigfoot!
Margaret and the Moon By Dean Robbins; illustrated by Lucy Knisley
For primary school readers: Margaret and the Moon (5/16/2017). This nonfiction picture book by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Lucy Knisley, is a biography of Margaret Hamilton, the first female software engineer, whose code helped launch the Apollo missions! Nonfiction is on the rise in primary classrooms, and this biography is perfect for the youngest readers to learn about Margaret’s history: how she loved numbers as a kid and studied hard to gain a place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and how she earned a position working for NASA and handwrote the code that would allow the spacecraft’s computer to solve any problems it might encounter!
Use Margaret and the Moon in a classroom unit that focuses on biographies of important historical figures or anything space-related!
Praise for Wonder Woman: Warbringer
★ “Cinematic battles and a race against time keep the excitement high, but the focus on girls looking out for each other is what makes this tie-in shine.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
Praise for Lemons
“Savage injects enough humor, mystery, and lively interaction among the characters to give this two-hanky debut a buoyant tone.” —Booklist
Praise for Margaret and the Moon
★ “A superb introduction to the life of one girl whose dreams were out-of-this-world.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review