Emily has contributed to the blog in the past. She did a fantastic post on Harry Potter and study abroad. This week she writes about a topic that is important to me. I spend much of last year thinking about gun violence and how we might talk about it productively in school settings. Shelly Schaffer, Gretchen Rumhor-Voskuil, and I edited a book on just how to do this. The book is doing well. We do hope that you will check it out and consider doing a book group focusing on this book and the topic in general. Any of the editors would be willing to visit such a group in person or by Skype. If you have read it, consider leaving a review on Amazon.
You can find an introduction to this book at a previous blog post. It introduces the editors, the chapter authors, and summaries the focus of each chapter. To be clear, the book does much more than discuss YA books on the topic.
Thanks Emily, for addressing such an important topic.
Gun Violence in YA Novels
First, let me share a little bit about myself. My family has guns. Please don’t stop reading. Many of the guns have been passed down for generations from our grandfather’s grandfathers. They are all stored properly in a locked cabinet, and we’ve all been through hunter safety training courses. Additionally I’ve taught elementary and middle school in 2 different states. My first school was just a few miles off a military base and most of the students were the children of Army Infantry and Special Forces personnel. My second school was in a semi-rural community outside a major Southern city, and many of the students were hunters and frequently shared their meat with others including places like Hunters for the Hungry (see TWF for an example).
After this full disclosure, I TRULY believe that we as educators must step up and work with our students of all ages to build a kinder, more empathetic society where guns are NOT a solution to human problems. How can we do this? We use YA Texts and address the topic thoroughly with students. We don’t hide. We don’t shy away from difficult topics. We dive in and learn together. Let’s explore any example that I used with graduate students WHILE a former student was concurrently doing something similar with her middle school students.
I did a quick book talk on each of the following books and explained our goals in reading these texts together
Hopkins, E. (2018). People Kill People. Margaret K. McElderry Books. ISBN 9781481442930
Hubbard, J. (2015). And We Stay. Penguin Random House. ISBN 9780385740586
Nijkamp, M. (2016). This is Where It Ends. Sourcebook. ISBN 9781492622468
Stone, N. (2017) Dear Martin. Crown Reader Pub. ISBN 978-1101939499
Thomas, A. (2017). The Hate U Give. Balzer & Bray. ISBN 9780062498533
(Images 1 and the pdf)
Some of the songs we used:
This is America by Childish Gambino
What it Means by Drive-by-Truckers
American Bad Dream by Kane Brown
This is America
What it Means
American Bad Dream
We can make a difference. We can have hard conversations with our students about difficult issues. In fact, we must.
The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
Excerpts from Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
I am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina
Teaching Tolerance Gun Violence in Schools
NY Times Resources for Talking and Teaching about Gun Violence
PBS News Hour
Until next week.