ELA

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison | The Great American Read

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Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, published in 1952, is about personal sacrifice, and the drive to overcome one of the great American challenges. In the novel, the protagonist, simply called “Narrator,” is a black man who lives his life as a model citizen. He continuously tries to uplift himself and his community, but at every turn, he comes up against a gauntlet of discrimination that leads to his ultimate and tragic end.

MN Original | Carter Meland: Author

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Carter Meland was in his thirties when he discovered he had Native American ancestors. A phone call delivered the news that his paternal grandfather was Anishinaabe. This remarkable family history became the centerpiece of Meland's first novel, Stories for a Lost Child. The book was chosen as one of four finalists for the Minnesota Book Award in the Novel and Short Story category in 2018.

The Chronicles of Narnia | The Great American Read

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The Chronicles of Narnia follows a group of children who are evacuated to the English countryside during WWII. The books tell of the their adventures in the imaginary kingdom of Narnia, guided by a talking lion named Aslan, as they fight the White Witch and restore the throne to its rightful line. Tennis great Venus Williams shares her love of the books and experts speak of author C.S. Lewis and his use of allegories for war and religion in the series.

Learning Objective

Students will:

  • Watch a video segment and answer a series of contextual questions.
  • Understand the difference between a myth and mythology.
  • Build vocabulary, reading and comprehension skills by using the vocabulary list.

The Journey of the Jewish Americans

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In the 19th century, most Americans had little or no contact with Jewish people.  Jews who immigrated to the United States were met with a mixed attitude of suspicion stemming from prejudice, stereotypes and awe as people associated with Biblical stories and events. For the most part, the early 19th century Jewish immigrants were regarded as outsiders who were both tolerated and sometimes despised. Many began as peddlers, the traditional occupation of Jews in Europe. In this segment from The Jewish Americans, learn how their arrival was well timed to supply Americans with the goods and supplies they would need as the United States expanded west.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland | The Great American Read

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The Queen of Hearts is the most notorious villain in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. She is in charge, but her unchecked power makes her act like a child. In fact, there is humor in her villainy, and she even has a catchphrase. Experts and Seattle musician Debbie Miller explain why the Queen is such an effective and memorable bad guy.

Learning Objective

Students will:

  • Consider the role a villain plays in the plot of a story
  • Explore the concept of power and characters that abuse their power
  • View a video segment and answer contextual questions
  • Write a short essay that argues for or against a statement about power
  • Build vocabulary, reading, and listening comprehension skills 

 

One Hundred Years of Solitude | The Great American Read

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Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez uses "magical realism" in his story of the fictional town of Macondo and the five generations of the Buendia family who inhabit it. The story is told in flashbacks and flash-forwards that fuse the fantastical with the everyday. The town and the Buendias survive wars, forbidden love affairs, and the invasion of foreigners and industrialization.

Learning objectives

Students will:

  • Watch a video segment and answer contextual questions
  • Expand vocabulary and reading comprehension skills by using the vocabulary list associated with this segment
  • Understand what magical realism is and how it differs from fantasy
  • Research and identify Latin American countries and the setting of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel, 100 Years of Solitude

Chosen Families | The Great American Read

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In Tales of the City, The Outsiders, and Ghost, we see how a chosen family bolsters the individual identity of a main character.

Frankenstein | The Great American Read

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Experts and artists talk about the lessons in Mary Shelley's masterpiece, Frankenstein. They explore how the book is about more than a fear of science, but the consequences of not taking care of your creations and letting hubris get in the way. Mary Shelley started writing the book at the age of 18, and in 2018, the book celebrated its 200th anniversary. This classic horror story has a much deeper tale to tell.

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller | The Great American Read

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Catch-22 follows Captain John Yossarian, a fighter pilot in World War II, who has one wish: to come out of the war alive. Looking for a way out, Yossarian falsely claims that he is insane, only to be told that by knowing he is insane, he has proven that he is obviously sane. In short, he finds himself caught in a “catch 22,” an expression created in the novel by author Joseph Heller.

Ready Player One | The Great American Read

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Ready Player One is the 2011 blockbuster by Ernest Cline set in a dystopian near-future. The novel follows a young man named Wade, who escapes his bleak life by going into a virtual world called The Oasis. Actor Wil Wheaton, who also performed the audiobook, shares his love for the story. We also meet Nicholas Horbaczewski, CEO of the Drone Racing League, where racers can have a virtual reality experience of their own. Horbaczewski reveals why he feels the DRL is similar to the experiences in Ready Player One, and why he loves and relates to the book.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Watch a video segment and answer contextual questions about the novel, “Ready Player One.” 
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of virtual worlds discussed in the novel in a short essay 
  • Explore the meaning of the term “immersive” in a short essay 
  • Build vocabulary and reading comprehension skills using the vocabulary list associated with this resource

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