The first novel we read in our Real Teens Read literature discussion group is The Giver by Lois Lowry. It had such an impact on the group, that we find ourselves relating almost everything else we read to it in some way.
We have discussed the archetype of the main character’s journey in this book and how it is similar in some ways to the main character’s journey in several of the other books we’ve read, such as Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, and Bud, Not Buddy.
The Giver also brings up the issue of living in a Utopian society and whether it really is perfect after all–we found similar themes in The City of Ember. The theme of the individual’s responsibility in society is also seen in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and The Hunger Games. The teens in the group are beginning to see how literature is interconnected.
Before our discussion meeting for this book, the teens also read the poems “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, “Unknown Citizen” by W. H. Auden, and “Warning” by Jenny Joseph, as well as the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. We watched a video of “The Lottery” (remember those filmstrips in school?) We also attended a live performance of The Giver recently.
If you are interested in forming a literature discussion group, it is really rewarding and a wonderful opportunity for homeschoolers to get together for cooperative learning. It’s also a great way to expose kids to quality literature and take the intimidation factor out of it. We use an email loop so we can communicate easily, and we meet once a month for discussion and once a month for an activity, such as a movie or field trip.
So far, almost all of our field trips have been free. We always have food to keep the kids motivated (pizza, popcorn, cookies, movie candy), and I post study notes in advance to get the kids thinking before the discussion. I developed our reading list from curriculum catalogs and resources such as Honey for a Teen’s Heart by Gladys Hunt and From Hinton to Hamlet by Sarah Herz and Donald Gallo.