9780307464972By Andrew Warner, Rolla High School (Rolla, MO)

For struggling readers, the simple act of finishing a book can be a challenge. In addition to obstacles that reading ability may present, some students are so discouraged by past classroom experiences that the sight of a high school textbook instantly turns them off. Additionally, the emphasis that Common Core places on complex and nonfiction reading leaves many students, and even some teachers, feeling that nothing they read in class can be interesting or relevant.

To help these students, my department created a class focused on graphic novels. We wanted to provide students with accessible—and relatable—nonfiction that would align with CCSS standards. After reading Max Brooks’s The Harlem Hellfighters last year, I decided to include it in our class. I was intrigued to learn about a part of history that was previously unfamiliar to me, and I admired the author’s honest depiction of war and its portrayal in the media. It seemed like the perfect complement to a more traditional graphic novel like Art Spiegelman’s Maus. (more…)

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9780307464972By Lakeya Omogun, New Design Middle School (Harlem, New York)

 Whose perspective is told? Whose perspective is missing? Whose voice is heard? Whose voice is missing? What might this person say if they had a voice? These were some of the questions my students explored while performing critical readings of various historical texts.

After learning about World War I, my students were also challenged to consider the missing perspectives and voices in the stories of this historical event. What better way to learn about them than from an author? On Friday, December 12th, 2014, Max Brooks visited my seventh-grade classroom in Harlem, New York, at New Design Middle School to tell my students about one missing perspective in the stories of World War I, The Harlem Hellfighters. (more…)

Helmet for My Pillow by Robert Leckie

Did you and your students tune in this past weekend to the premiere of HBO’s new miniseries, The Pacific? We did, and we’re hooked! Reissued to coincide with the start of this series are two bestselling World II classics, Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific by Robert Leckie, and With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E.B. Sledge. Leckie and Sledge (portrayed in the series by actors James Badge Dale and Joseph Mazello) were two young marines who participated some of the greatest battles in the Pacific War. Their vivid, first-person narratives of combat and survival served as the primary sources for the miniseries, along with unpublished accounts from John “Manila” Basilone (portrayed by actor John Seda). Pick up copies of their books today, and enjoy the rest of the first season of The Pacific! Also of interest: The Pacific War: From Pearl Harbor to Hiroshima edited by Daniel Marston and War in the Pacific 1941-1945 by Richard Overy; foreword by Dale Dye.