Our Real Teens Read novel for March is a blast from the past: The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton. Raise your hand if you remember reading this as a teen! What about the movie? Be warned, it will make you feel old to see baby-faced Rob Lowe and Tom Cruise. Oh, how I miss Patrick Swayze . . . I got sidetracked, didn’t I?
Anyway . . . The teens had never read this book, and even though it is assigned as middle school reading in some schools, I though it would be a good book to include, because it addresses many of the themes we have discussed with other novels we’ve read.
The teens have done some heavy reading recently, and it was time for a shorter novel. Plus, one of the moms in our group requested that we read something that deals with the issue of bullying. There was a tragedy in our community recently involving the suicide of a beautiful young teen, due to her distress and anguish from being bullied.
The Outsiders was really the first “real” young adult novel ever published, and it’s author was only fifteen when she wrote it. It is #38 on the banned books list.
The teens discussed the music and culture of the 1960’s, themes of alienation, society and class, loyalty, violence, and choices, along with other literary elements like imagery, symbolism, and characterization. We also watched the movie and compared and contrasted it to the novel.
Along with the novel, our group read these poems:
“Nothing Gold Can Stay” by Robert Frost
“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas
“I’m Nobody! Who Are You?” by Emily Dickinson
“Sympathy” by Paul Laurence Dunbar
“Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes
“Speech to the Young” by Gwendolyn Brooks
For a hands-on activity to accompany our book and poetry discussion, the teens made CD case photo frames. They each brought a printed photo of themselves and chose papers they liked. They made templates to cut out papers for the front cover, both inside and out, and they cut out CD shapes for the inside.
Some of the teens put their photo on the inside of the case and collaged the CD shape with words and thoughts about themselves. Of course, being teens, some of them were silly and snarky, but they all reflected on the themes from The Outsiders that we had discussed.