YAL - Young Adult Literature Presenter Unit 2007/2008




YAL Home Page

YAL Conference Books

YAL Strategies

UfB - Units for Books - Info

UfB - Units for Books - Units



The Skin I'm In
by Sharon Flake


A Girl Named Disaster
by Nancy Farmer


YAL Presenter Unit 2007/2008

Subjects: English
Grade Level: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th
Posted: 2007
Unit Created by: Susan Garr and Michero Washington

What makes this a good YAL choice...

A Girl Named Disaster makes a good YAL choice because it holds up both a window and a mirror for our middle and high school readers. It offers a look through a window to examine what it might be like to grow up in a village that has specific coming of age traditions based on age and gender. It also holds up a mirror for them to think critically about what customs and traditions they are growing up with that are similar to Nhamo’s, as well as what type of traditions they think might be missing. More specifically, A Girl Named Disaster, by Nancy Farmer, makes a good YAL choice because it invites our middle and high school students the opportunity to grapple with the complex nature of becoming human. It challenges them to explore ideas about identity and the impact a community might have on the development of an individual. How much choice do we have in determining our own identity? Are we bound by gender? Race? Class? Continent? How do we need our community to help us develop? And how do we find the courage to accept who and what we are, especially, if it means going against what our community values? What journey might an individual need to take to find their true self?


The Skin I’m In, by Sharon Flake and A Girl Named Disaster, by Nancy Farmer make for a good YAL pair because they confront the reader with real questions about how much choice females have in determining their own identity.  These novels present us with young female characters forced to develop skills to survive in worlds that do not accept them for who they are.  Both books present us with communities that reward status quo.   Both books present us with insight into what “troubles” growing up female might bring.  Each novel is set in a different continent.  One novel takes place in North America, and the other takes place in Africa.  Reading the two together makes one consider what similarities might there be across continents?  And what differences?  These books make us consider what “girl troubles” our kids face today that impede their development, limit their access and squash their ability to be successful.  We might also ask,  what “girl troubles” do females in other countries confront?  These books pave the way for mini-inquiries into how femaleness is shaped and what it means to grow up female in our country and beyond.  These books make way for crucial classroom conversations about the role of gender, race, class and continent in determining our identity and coming to terms with what, at first, we are not able to accept. — Susan Garr


YAL Conference Workshop Description & Documents
Exploring Troubles and Triumphs in the Quest for Female Identity
Susan Garr and Michero Washington, Presenters

In A Girl Named Disaster, Nhamo lives in her mother's village in Mozambique. Her mother is dead and her father is gone. While her Grandmother provides much needed affection, her Aunt Chipo hates her and the people in her village refer to her as "Little Disaster." In The Skin I'm In, Maleeka Madison's classmates taunt and pressure her to follow the crowd; a new teacher prods and pressures her to achieve. Young, Black and beautiful, Maleeka is a 7th grader who doesn't blend well with her peers. Although both stories reflect the troubles and triumphs of young girls, the books present issues that all adolescents face: fitting in, accepting oneself, taking responsibility, survival and the importance of family and friendships. This hands-on workshop will explore the journey of self-discovery by examining the way in which our main characters' identities are shaped, shifted and stifled by their response to life circumstances. Activities will address the importance of self-esteem, culture and skin tone bias as the foundation for transforming the relationship between external features and misperceptions of the self. Through hands-on before, during and after reading activities, this workshop offers teachers a variety of ways to bring these books to our students. — Workshop Description for YAL 2007


Unit Template


Think in Threes


Read and Write


Agenda for YAL Workshop 10-2007


Identity Power Point


Identity Power Point CD Cover


Reclaiming the Girl Within resource book


Silent Discussion