YAL - Young Adult Literature Presenter Unit 2012/2013



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by Walter Dean Myers


YAL Presenter Unit 2012/2013

Subjects: English Literature
Grade Level: 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th
Posted: 2012, CCSS, Common Core State Standards
Unit Created by: April Nauman and Durene Wheeler

What makes this a good YAL choice...

Lockdown is the story of a young adolescent incarcerated for stealing prescription pads for a drug dealer. As Reese tells his story, the reader gets a glimpse into life in “Juvie” and of Reese’s fears, his anger, and his struggle to find a new direction for his life. Myer’s empathy for young people of color and his realistic, yet hopeful, view of the challenges life presents them, makes this an especially great read for students in similar situations. It’s also ideal as part of a unit on the “school to prison pipeline.” Walter Dean Myers at his best—which is saying a lot! — Chirstine Johnson


YAL Conference Workshop Description
Racism and Redemption in Walter Dean Myers' Lockdown and the US Legal System: How Laws Can Undermine Justice
April Nauman and Durene Wheeler, Presenters

Reese, a 14-year-old African-American boy from a troubled family, is incarcerated for stealing prescription pads. At Progress Juvenile Detention Center, he faces racism, low expectations, violence, and his own fears that he won't be able to avoid a life of imprisonment. Told from Reese's endearing and perceptive viewpoint, this novel offers a vivid portrayal of the difficult lives many American children of color must lead.

Our workshop will start with an aesthetic reading of Lockdown, including creative activities for student engagement with the characters. We will broaden the discussion to social justice with excerpts from The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander's investigation of how the "War on Drugs" laws enacted in the 1980s have markedly increased African-American and Latino youth incarceration. We will use an exploration of Alexander's argument in reference to the old Jim Crow laws as a bridge to teaching students to construct their own effective arguments (key to the Common Core Standards). — Workshop Description for YAL 2012