That’s our school-wide theme for the year (we just decided it 10 minutes ago. We even came up with a catchy tee-shirt logo!). Here comes my plea for help.
I’m teaching freshmen, juniors, and seniors this year, and I NEED novel and short story ideas that work along the theme of the things we do to make our living and, tangentially, what it means to “make a living.” I need at least five books for each class. Here’s what I’ve got so far:
Freshmen – To Kill a Mockingbird (we’ll focus in on the ideas of professional and personal ethics with this), The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (the ways in which the working world of adults is interpreted/misunderstood by children), The Giver (more professional/personal ethics)
Juniors – My Name is Asher Lev (choosing between the things you love and the things you’re expected to do), 1984 (playing – or not – within the system) and The Country of the Pointed Firs (very local flavor (the stories are set in a town literally 6 miles up the street) with a strong emphasis on community and interconnectedness).
Seniors – The Help (there are a million ways to go with this), essays from Studs Terkel’s Working, (oral history, finding value in everyone’s work), Native Son (the ways in which the systems we knowingly and unknowingly perpetuate affect ourselves and others) and A Handmaid’s Tale (again, with the systems).
I am also looking for ways to incorporate The Things They Carried and A Christmas Carol into some or all of the classes, and one of my colleagues is jazzed about The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind as an all-school read. I’m expecting a copy of Norma Rae from Amazon any day now, and I’m also looking at teaching The Last Samurai for the ways in which it investigates the end of a system of living.
Please, please, PLEASE – if you know any books, films, or short stories that have a strong undercurrent of work and the ethics and values associated with it, send them along!