They are three very different books. One is about a girl’s suicide. Another about 1960s gang violence. The third about love and fears of infidelity. But high school students at the Southwest Alternative Education Center are finding something personally relevant in all three.
They are three very different books.
One is about a girl’s suicide. Another about 1960s gang violence. The third about love and fears of infidelity.
But high school students at the Southwest Alternative Education Center are finding something personally relevant in all three.
English teacher Bethia Williams said she chose for her students “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher, “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton and “Much Ado About Nothing” by William Shakespeare because of common themes that seem to run constant in life.
“They have themes in all of them that students can relate to today,” Williams said. “Even Shakespeare, which was written in the 1500s. The language has changed so
dramatically, but as we go through it the students are just so surprised that the topics that come up are still relevant and important today.”
The same thing goes for “The Outsiders,” Williams said, a coming-of-age story set in 1960s Tulsa about two rival gangs and the struggles and angst of the personalities involved.
“So students are seeing that yes, there is a clash of different groups in society and there are still cliques around — they’re called different things now, but they’re still there,” Williams said. “Students are making these connections of how life is a lot the same for teenagers today as it was for teenagers then.”
For “Thirteen Reasons Why”, Williams had to send a note home first notifying parents of some of the topics in the book, which revolve around a girl’s suicide tapes. None of the parents objected.
“Students relate to the issues in that book because they deal with things like suicide, bullying and how what you do can greatly affect somebody and you don’t even necessarily realize it,” Williams said.
She called “Thirteen Reasons Why” the “best young adult book” she has “ever came across.” There was actually a waiting list of 12 students wanting to read it, besides the ones already doing so in her class.
Christina Stevens, a junior, isn’t naturally a big reader, but she said “Thirteen Reasons Why” is one she has really gotten into.
“When you read something like that, you think about how she (the girl on the tapes) must have really felt, you understand where she’s coming from,” Stevens said. “It really makes you think.”
While the three books mentioned are very different from one another, there is a sort of subtle link that binds them in a way high school students can relate to — which is one of the main reasons Williams chose them to begin with.
“They all have different themes about relationships,” Williams said. “Relationships are the biggest theme in all of them. Sometimes it’s a family relationship, sometimes it’s a love interest relationship. But those are the big ones that show up. ... And (the books) have helped a lot of my students who are reluctant readers in class to take more of an interest in reading and want to do better.”
Neosho Daily News