Amy Scruggs

Course Description:

We will travel back in time to examine important events in America’s history through the literature of the time, beginning with today and ending with early American stories and poems. We will investigate each piece and then write journals and articles  that will culminate in a collaborative book of student generated, peer reviewed criticism of the major works of our nation.


1990s – Freak the Mighty (Novel)
A wonderful story of triumph over imperfection, shame, and loss. Large, awkward, learning-disabled Maxwell Kane, whose father is in prison for murdering his mother, and crippled, undersized Kevin are both mocked by their peers; the cruel taunting they endure is all too realistic and believable. The boys establish a friendship-and a partnership. Kevin defends them with his intelligence, while Max is his friend's "legs," affording him a chance to participate in the larger world. Inspired by tales of King Arthur, they become knights fighting for good and true causes. But Kevin's illness progresses, and when he dies, Max is left with the memories of an extraordinary relationship and, perhaps, the insight to think positively about himself and his future. The author writes with empathy, honoring the possibilities of even peripheral characters; Kevin and Max are memorable and luminous. Many YA novels deal with the effects of a friend dying, but this one is somewhat different and very special.
Libby K. White, Schenectady County Public Library, NY

1960s – March (Graphic Novel) - Discover the inside story of the Civil Rights Movement through the eyes of one of its most iconic figures, Congressman John Lewis. March is the award-winning, #1 bestselling graphic novel trilogy recounting his life in the movement, co-written with Andrew Aydin and drawn by Nate Powell. 

1930s – Harlem Renaissance Selections (Poetry) – Various Authors (Copies provided by teacher) 

1930s – Of Mice and Men- They are an unlikely pair: George is "small and quick and dark of face"; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a "family," clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.

1890s – The Story of an Hour (Short Story)  -  (Copies provided by teacher) The short story describes the series of emotions Louise Mallard endures after hearing of the death of her husband, Brently, who was believed to have died in a railroad disaster. Mrs. Mallard suffers from heart problems; therefore, her sister and friend attempt to inform her of the horrific news in a gentle way. Mrs. Mallard locks herself in her room to immediately mourn the loss of her husband. However, she begins to feel an unexpected sense of exhilaration. "Free! Body and soul free!" is what she believes is a benefit of his death. When she hears her husband enter the house, she suffers a heart attack upon receiving the shock that he has not died after all. He hears a scream and runs up to see the body of his dead wife lying on the ground.

Civil War – Which Way Freedom (Novel) - From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9 Obi, a young slave in the Civil War period, cherishes dreams of escape. When he confides his plans to Easter, another slave, she insists that he take her with him, as well as five-year-old Jason. A twist of fate enables Obi and Easter to escape, but without Jason. When they are recaptured by Confederate soldiers, a growing rift develops between Obi and Easter, who can not forget their abandonment of Jason. Obi makes plans for another daring escape, but this time he fears Easter will not come with him. In spite of its deceptively short length, Which Way Freedom? covers a good deal of ground. The historical detail never overwhelms but seems to grow naturally from the story. There is sufficient action to sustain readers' interest, but it is in the book's characterization that the chief strength lies. Obi is a sympathetic but fallible young man, often at odds with others and himself over the importance of freedom and loyalty. Obi's relationships with those close to him are subtly depicted; indeed at times in an almost too understated fashion. A sensitive, thought-provoking historical novel. Ruth Reutter, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, Ohio
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

1790s – Fever, 1793 (Novel) An epidemic of fever sweeps through the streets of 1793 Philadelphia in this novel from Laurie Halse Anderson where "the plot rages like the epidemic itself" (The New York Times Book Review).

1776 – The Declaration of Independence- (Copies provided by teacher)