The first of five selections for our summer 2017 study of Young Adult books, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is an up-close look at how one 16-year-old girl and her community are impacted when her friend is killed by a police officer.
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Here is my video reflection, followed by a few notes:
- I think this is an incredibly important book that can be used as a springboard for talking about race relations, law enforcement, and the Black Lives Matter movement.
- I appreciated the fact that we get to know characters who are so often represented by stereotypes. I appreciated the opportunity to get to know people like DeVante and Khalil and hear the stories of how they ended up getting involved with gangs and selling drugs, which painted a much more complex, nuanced picture of how some young people end up doing these things.
- I wish there could have been more discussion of the rioting, and of the characters’ understanding of it. Thomas helps us understand other complex issues by having the adult characters explain things to Starr, but I felt like the riots weren’t explored enough, and this is an issue that I think white America still needs help understanding.
- I wonder how teachers might address concerns from students and families who see the book as biased, or who feel more sympathetic to officer one-fifteen? Some students (and teachers) may relate more to characters like Hailey…how do we address this in our classrooms in a way that helps everyone grow?
- I would also like to know how you would address the profanity and sex in the book, which was not graphic but still present? How do you all handle this in regard to letting students read these books and responding to objections from parents? What age would be appropriate for reading this book?
- Interview with Dena Simmons
- Interview with José Vilson
- Interview with Monique Morris
- Article on Code Switching
- Book on a similar topic: All American Boys, by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Be respectful of other people’s opinions; the subject matter of this book will bring up strong opinions and feelings, and everyone is encouraged to share honestly, but any comments that are abusive toward other commenters will be removed.
Hi! I’m deaf so I’m really hoping you add a transcript of your video to benefit everybody when they join the book discussion! 🙂 thank you!! :)jen
Hey Jennifer! If you click the “YouTube” icon in the bottom corner of the video, it will take you over to where you can turn on the captions. I appreciate the reminder to do this!
I absolutely LOVED this book, and I have brought it up to a few of my students. I have taught in the same urban district teaching high school Spanish and English for the past 18yrs. This summer I plan to meet a couple days a week with a handful of kids for SAT practice and a book study…I thought about doing The Hate U Give or All-American Boys (funny, you brought that up!). I actually listened to this book on Audible, and I feel it added so much to my overall experience and understanding of the characters amd events. The narration was fantastic. I won’t go on and on, but if you want to read my review of it, you can find it here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1928042954. I also have about 10 questions/topics of discussion drafted, but maybe some people will post other ideas here. 🙂
I haven’t yet read All-American Boys…I plan to listen to it on Audible, and come up with discussion questions for that one, too. Next week at our first meeting, I will play a few excerpts from both books for the kids and let them decide which one we should read. I want them to read it instead of listen to it, so I plan to buy each of them their own copy to keep.
I’m really happy I was alerted of your video on YouTube! Sorry, I’m a bit long winded! I love your site and all your posts on Twitter! I appreciate all your help and hard work so much…thank you!! 🙂
Thanks so much, Tara! And thanks for sharing about the audio version and your review!
I also listened to The Hate U Give and All American Boys on Audible and loved them! Audiobooks are not all created equally and these two stand out as being very wel done! I work with struggling readers and plan to read a physical copy of both this summer to compare the audio and read-to-self experiences.
I love your summer student book study idea of pairing these books!
Joy, thanks for the recommendation on the audiobooks. You are absolutely right that they are not created equal!
I’ve been using this text in a class novel study. When it comes to the ‘Haileys,’ I’ve approached responses in a couple of ways. One, I let other students respond. Two, I create assignments that require students to identify personal bias and research a topic from a different perspective. Three, I use ‘Hailey’ comments to develop ‘teachable moments.’ Often, I will bring in and present rebuttals and challenge ‘Haileys’ to find resources that discredit mine. Four, I make it a point to differentiate between individual and institutional racism (Black Power by Kwame Ture is an excellent resources that also connects back to the Black Panthers). We set the novel into a historical context to map how the institution was created and study the ideologies that perpetuate oppression. Personally, I found the novel did a decent job of explaining the riots, especially when one truly understands what Tupac meant when referring to THUG LIFE. In Chapter 10, Big Mav and Starr talk about how it applies to the protests and riots. Regarding 115, Starr says “he’s not the first one to do something like this and get away with it. It’s been happening and people will keep rioting until it changes. So I guess the system’s still giving hate, and everybody’s still getting fucked.” Starr furthers her understanding when speaking to Chris in Chapter 23. She says: “I don’t need you to agree … Just try to understand how I feel.” She finishes it with a ‘please.’ It’s essential to set this novel into a historical context in order to help people, who haven’t been victims of brutal oppression, empathize with what Black people are fighting for.
Hi, would you be willing to go into more detail about your “assignments that require students to identify personal bias”? I’m teaching The Hate U Give for the first time this year and those assignments sound awesome! I want to be extra prepared with resources, especially resources that challenge my students to figure out where they fall in the spectrum of racism and bias. Thanks!
I have found these novels on sale for $10 at Scholastic if that helps anyone! And the site readwritethink has some really good articles and a lesson plan that can help with some of these difficult topics. I, too, am teaching this novel for the first time to my advanced 8th grade class. Good Luck!
Jai- I would love to see the unit you designed! This was going to be my summer project (as just reading it once a week was not enough to get through it and enough for my students). We found a happy medium with the swearing that everyone agreed upon (ironically it was my students who were not excited about the swearing). Overtime I say I will be reading the room is so quiet you could “hear a pin drop”. 80% of my students are 3-4 years below grade level in reading and I am using this to ignite their passion (so they can read other books like this; good motivator). If you are open to sharing I would be grateful. I am not sure if I can add my email. I will check back weekly. Thank you!
So I read The Hate U Give before it was chosen for this discussion after a discussion in my US History class about how the way we look can sometimes shape how people see us without ever knowing anything about us. I made the comment that, personally, I constantly try to understand people who are what I am not (black where I am white, male where I am female, Muslim where I am Christian, etc.) and I often found it frustrating that there was so much I don’t even know I don’t understand about people because I haven’t walked the walk they have. And sometimes we don’t know how to tell others about our walk because it is so emotionally charged. One of my students asked after class if I really wanted to know what it was like to be a black teenager and proceeded to tell me I needed to read this book. I will admit, because I came at it from that conversation I cried through the book because a lot of the situations were scary and hard for me to think about experiencing as an adult, much less a child or young adult. I had a lot of “how can we fix it” moments while reading, particularly with some of the situations between Starr and Hailey and when Starr learned exactly why Khalil was selling drugs. Finally, though, I was thankful for having read this book, because it was a chance to enter a world I had never been in before with a completely open mind and simply ask “why” and “how” and “what do I need to understand”. I would recommend this book to students, but I’m not sure that I would ever teach it in the sense of an assigned reading. I feel like it is a book students, and maybe their parents, need to approach on their own terms. They need to be able to wrestle with feelings like how they feel about officer one-fifteen and Hailey and Khalil and DeVante and even Starr and Chris and Starr’s family and have an outlet to discuss those feelings (which I would love to provide maybe in more of a book club type setting). This book is incredible, and something I think teachers should read especially if, like me, you are struggling to relate to students whose walk is different from your own.
Amber, the fact that a student recommended this book as a way to understand their experiences? Wow. That gave me goose bumps. I really appreciate you sharing your experience here.
I’m glad I read this book. Thank you, Angie, for writing it. It’s an important window on a topic that is in the news all too often; and one that we don’t talk about in the classroom enough.
Being able to have a window to what it felt like to be Starr, reminds me that while I could totally relate to what she was going through–her need to protect herself, to be angry, and inevitably to find justice for Khalil- I really don’t have a clue how it feels to be viscerally afraid of police, to feel that my best option is to join a gang. What it feels like to believe I will never get a fair shake-no matter what I do. Did Khalil make all the right choices? No. Do I make all the right choices? No. Does anyone? NO! So what makes his mistakes so much bigger than mine– truly? Or are they really just amplified because of assumptions that were made of him?
A powerful story. Again thank you for sharing it with us all.
I read both The Hate U Give and All American Boys and believe that they work well together as paired texts. A non fiction book is ta nehisi coates between the world and me. He gives a first hand account of what it’s like to lose someone who dies at the hand of law enforcement. This summer I will be reading and discussing this book with 5 of my soon-to-be freshmen. For people who do not live in blighted urban areas, it is difficult to imagine that actions of an officer like 115 and his fellow officers, are real, but they are. “The Talk” in the African-American community about how to interact with the police is real. I have an AA colleague who is married to a police officer. She is also the mother of young Black men. We were talking about the social upheaval with the shooting of unarmed Black men, the protests and riots (they are not the same) and the shooting of the 5 officers in Dallas and she shared that she always tells her sons to tell the police that they are the sons of an officer if they are ever stopped. Being stopped and searched by the police is a rite of passage in the AA community which contributes to the tension. There are plenty of Khalils in the neighborhood. As a middle-aged Black woman, I am nervous when I’m stopped by the police. After the protests, law enforcement everywhere beefs up their patrol. So, I can’t tell you how intimidating it is to be pulled over and surrounded by four officers with weapons for the crime of failing to come to a complete stop at a stop sign. I had my 20 year-old nephew in the car. Two cops on my side, two on his side and he raised his hands automatically when I pulled over. Once I was with my friends and we crossed the solid line pulling into a parking lot. It was late. The officers shined a bright light in our faces and asked if we were coming from a hip hop party. I share these stories to give context to the tense relationship between the police and the communities they serve. I have family and friends who are police officers and I know the work they do is very difficult. Our justice system is in need of repair. It’s broken. The police are simply the gatekeepers for a racist system.
Stephanie, thank you for all of this. My heart was racing reading your story of being surrounded by police. That must have been terrifying. The moment in the story when the police had Mav on the ground…I was so scared for them. And yet I got to move on with my life after that, because it’s just not a possibility for me. I hope that books like this (and All American Boys, and Coates’ book) can help teach more people what the experience is like.
Thank you also for pointing out that the protests and riots are different things. I really want to have more discussion about this.
Cindy, I think that’s one of the most important points people miss when they react negatively to the BLM movement: We all screw up, but only some people have to fear for their lives because of it.
I was actually planning on assigning this as summer reading for Honors Freshmen English. However, once I started reading it the book, I knew parts of it would not be welcomed at my school. I collaborated with another teacher, who has far more experience than I, and she helped me find other books still based around the same topic.
That search led us to All American Boys. All American Boys has a less amount of sex, drugs, etc. I felt it was a little more PG on the topic, than the Hate U Give. We paired it with the non-fiction text, Just Mercy, and we are really excited to see the students’ reactions when they return in August.
My colleague, Stacey, and I read this book and discussed issues and parts as we read. We both teach juniors and agree we would not use this with any younger students. The students I had this past year would be cool with the language and implied sex. Stacey & I even felt that most of our students would probably not discuss or mention what they were reading to their parents. We’re a small, rural, mostly white population. We have some black families in the district, and we also have black students who have transferred from the city schools. Stacey and I have commented that our black students aren’t really black, if that makes sense. I guess you could say they are all “Starrs”. Our biggest issue would probably be getting our kids to understand Starr’s point of view. Many of them wouldn’t have a clue as to the feelings going through Starr, or Khalil, or Seven.
Margie, I would bet that most of your Black students can relate to the characters in this book more than you would expect them to. As for helping your white students relate to the characters, I think Angie Thomas did such a good job of making most of the characters’ day-to-day experiences pretty universal. For example, Seven having a two-household family is probably very relatable to students of divorced parents, kids who prefer one household over another but still feel loyalty to the other. Or Starr and Khalil being so close as little kids, but growing apart as their life circumstances changed; lots of students can probably relate to the feelings associated with that situation. If you can help students see the ways that they are similar to the characters, they will identify with them more, see them as more human, and therefore feel more empathy toward them in situations that are unfamiliar to them. I think that’s really the whole point of literature.
Margie, I was thrown off by your comment that your black students aren’t really black. As educators, we need to make sure that we view others as complex human beings, and understand that we can’t make sweeping generalizations about what it means to be White, Black, Latin@, Muslim, Queer, etc. We all have different lived experiences. We can’t assume that everyone who is Black has one specific culture, one specific set of beliefs, one specific experience. We need to move beyond stereotypical beliefs about groups of people that are different than ourselves.
Thank you for saying that…
Between the World and Me is also a good text.
Thanks for sharing this, Caitlin. It will help others who want a book on this topic that may be more appropriate for younger readers.
I am teaching this book in my upstate New York small, public high school. It has been, so far, one of the most important experiences of my teaching career. I am happy to share my approach and ideas with anyone who has questions!
Lara, I would LOVE to hear about your positive experiences teaching this book. I feel so passionately that I need to teach this book to my students, but I’m getting lots of pushback from the rest of the American Lit team and my principal. I already bought a class set of the books and am ready to go for second semester, and would feel much more confident hearing from someone who has actually gone through the experience. Thank you!
I would love some information! I am in the process of preparing the book for my students now.
I am really interested in hearing about your approach! I teach in a mostly white, rural New England high school and I’m planning to use the book this year, but I want to do it right. I’m expecting to meet resistance from some people in the community. Even my principal told me that when I teach the unit, I should “present both sides.” I would love some support!
I would show the principal examples of how the book does present both sides (for example, good police officers like Uncle Carlos, the overall anti-gang message of the book that emphasizes change from within communities, and Starr’s own disapproval of the rioting becoming looting and violence.) He has probably not read it himself and without that understanding, he may assume there is a less balanced perspective or a more indoctrinating message.
Like you, I just finished this book yesterday, and loved it. I felt connected to many of the characters in the book, and like you, felt privileged to have a glimpse into a world that I am not privy to.
At times, I felt uncomfortable reading this book because I saw glimpses of myself in both Starr and Hailey. Like Starr, I went to a posh private school in high school, and as a daughter of a firefighter and secretary, felt like I had to tiptoe two worlds (blue collar white vs. upper society). Like Hailey, I have made comments that were not appropriate, and have been defensive. I wish there was a bit more of how Hailey’s comments are tone deaf, myopic, and deny an individual their life experience, but I think it was an excellent jumping off point for readers.
I’ve bought four copies for my classroom library, and will definitely use this book in class to help individuals, especially reluctant readers, find their books.
This book compelled me, and I think it will fascinate YA readers. I’m in Dallas, and if you’re unaware, there was a shooting (July 2016) at the end of a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest that left five officers dead along with the shooter. It should be noted thatBLM had nothing to do with the shooting, and the shooter used this peaceful protest (that DPD was helping secure) to hijack a crucial message. DPD has been celebrated by trying to de-escalate racial tensions by using community-based relationships. I would pair this book with former DPD Police Chief David O. Brown’s book that just came out called “Called to Rise: A Life in Faithful Service to the Community That Made Me” in which he details how his own son killed two police officers, and was also killed in a shoot-out. In addition, I’d pair this book with Steve Osborne’s “The Job: True Tales from the Life of a New York City Cop” as Osborne never once fired his weapon.
Ashley, I appreciate your honest connections to your own experiences, and thanks for the other suggested pairings. The ties to current events with this book are absolutely everywhere; I just watched a Facebook Live stream this morning of highway protesters in Missouri protesting the acquittal of the officer who killed Philando Castile:
It was like being right inside the book. I hate that this keeps happening, but it just underscores the need for more books like this to keep getting written and read.
I LOVED this book! I teach students in high school and plan to start the school year off with this book with English 10 (sophomores). I feel it will be a great way to hook them back into the school year. I felt like I was friends with Starr’s friends and going through all of her experiences. The book is current and high interest with many opportunities to expand into more themes other than racism and the black lives matter. My plan is to replace this book with my previous whole class reading novel “To Kill A Mockingbird.” The way I see it, all the same topics are present in these two books, except THUG is more current and will be a higher interest read for students.
Starr eventually found out the name of one-fifteen, although still referred to him as one-fifteen. I found that interesting. She was not acknowledging him as a person…
As far as your last note regarding the sex and profanity in the book… I am concerned about parents “allowing” their children to read this book because of the profanity more than the references to sex. I am undecided how to approach this yet; I am waiting to read more comments from other teachers to know how they have handled these situations in the past. I feel comfortable teaching this book and helping students make connections and meaning in their own lives. LOVED IT!
I am teaching 9th grade literature in the upcoming school year. This will be my first year at the school, but the curriculum has included a whole class study of To Kill A Mockingbird for many years. As I read (actually listened on Audible) The Hate U Give, I also found myself thinking how it was a more current, relevant exploration of many of the same themes as TKAM.
As a new teacher in this district, I have some concerns about using THUG as a whole-class book study, but I am considering how I could pair it with TKAM as a literature circle option. Based on the discussion here, I would consider All American Boys too (haven’t read it yet, but I’m adding it to my list!).
I would definitely pair rather than pull. So many students (in my experience) do not have a rich sense of American history. They know the talking points and nothing else. TKAM provides incredible richness of history. From Emmett Till to the Scottsboro Boys to lynching, the novel opens so many doors. If you can pair with your history teacher and find out how to make sure you complement each other, I really think it provides important context for our students.
The organization, Facing History and Ourselves, has a great guide Teaching Mockingbird (pretty sure you can get the PDF online for free!) that has primary sources, modern tie-ins, etc. Plus if you teach critical analysis, you can do SO MUCH with reading all the various scholarly critiques of the novel and helping students craft their own opinions outside of yours.
Can you tell I really believe in TKAM?
I teach 8th grade literature, and I cannot bring THUG into the classroom in its entirety because of the sex and drugs, but I hope to incorporate excerpts. I read it when it first came out in February, and I love the idea of incorporating excerpts of it and several other texts (such as Just Mercy and David O. Brown’s book) to add deeper contemporary relevance to our unit.
(Plus if you keep TKAM, you can make waves over pulling some other much less useful outdated text instead!)
Hillary, Thanks for all the recommendations for pairing with TKAM! I definitely want my students to gain an understanding of the real historical events that inspired the book, especially as I teach in Georgia, not too far from where it all happened!
Hi! I am actually working with a teacher right now who is using parts of TKAM as her anchor text. We are then going to read recent articles that have challenged the notion that TKAM is “THE” classic for this topic…. To that end, we will then introduce book clubs that include Dear Martin, All American Boys, The Hate U Give, and two other yet to be decided. We are also researching the background of TKAM and still using it (just to be clear), but we want to provide students with more voices.
Hope this helps!
Do you really think this book can replace TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD? It was interesting but didn’t have near the depth as TKMB. I read SMALL GREAT THINGS by Jodi Picoult last year with my sophomores, and they loved it. It opened my eyes, and it didn’t need the drugs, sex, and profanity. Rather, it was an aha-type of book. However, TKMB still has such rich characters and literary value. I’m just not sure if I’m ready to give it up, especially for THE HATE… book.
I was an avid TKAM supporter. Then I read an article arguing why there are other books that do a much better job of addressing the same issues that were written by black authors. I was skeptical and clicked on it readily prepared to rebut all of their claims. However…their arguments were solid and swayed my opinion. (https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/why-are-we-still-teaching-kill-mockingbird-schools-ncna812281)
Their criticism was that the black community want heroes from their communities that are agents of their own success or change. In TKAM, Tom Robinson needs a white man (and I love Atticus) to help his situation. This makes us white people feel really good about ourselves, but doesn’t put forth a black protagonist that is an agent for his own change.
Just food for thought – the article suggests “Monster” by Walter Dean Myers as an alternative.
Thank you for sharing this article.
I teach 10th grade reluctant readers and definitely want to use this book next year! I absolutely loved it and I think a lot of my students can relate to it.
I really, really wanted to teach The Hate U Give this year as an outside reading assignment while we worked on informational texts and research in class. I wanted to follow it up with To Kill a Mockingbird and then have them research how far we have come with race since 1935 Maycomb, AL and where we still need to go. I’m concerned with language and sexual references as well, yet with the incredibly diverse student body at my Title 1 school, I feel this is so, so relevant and would be so engaging for my students. I am struggling to weigh which is more significant, although my administrators may decide for me! I’m interested in whether other people who have taught it feel it was as impactful as I think it could be.
I am teaching at a Title 1 high school with majority African American kids, many of which are struggling readers. I am considering this book but I wonder if it’s more of a “preaching to the choir” type scenario and if it’s impact would be more on white kids (helping them to understand the challenges African Americans face with systemic racism). I’d like to know if you read it with your students and how it went!
I thought this was a great book. I teach younger grades, so I wouldn’t use it in my classroom, but it really makes you think. Like how important to know about where our students come from and what is going on in their lives. This book gave me a very different perspective and understanding of a way of life I am not familiar with. It gives me a better understanding of the outrage and injustice of what is going on right now. Even though I am not teaching this book in class it is something I am talking about with my own child, colleagues, and family.
Well-said. I could have written exactly the same post. I’m so glad to have learned more about the kids I teach, even if I won’t have them read this (developmentally inappropriate).
I felt that this book was powerful. I, too, felt that I got to know characters well and see their many facets, like in life. I felt that it dealt with the topics of race and the police in an honest way and also in an accessible way.
I would, and want to, teach this book next year in literature circles. If parents or students did not want to read the book, there would be other options; this would offer them options and effectively avoid any push-back. I think it is valuable for groups to read to discuss in an authentic setting (not whole-group, teacher-led). Students would have plenty to discuss and could add their personal connections to the plot and characters. I think they could effectively discuss how they would have acted in the same circumstances. For example, I would not have thrown the tear gas back, but I am not Starr. However, this could be an interesting and thought-provoking discussion for students.
I think this book is so much more than YA fiction. It is current, real, honest, and meaningful on so many levels. Do you have to live in a place to care about it? Does leaving your roots mean turning your back on the people and places you care about? So many of my students could relate to these ideas.
I look forward to others’ comments to see how else it could be used in the classroom!
I would most definitely want to discuss or ask my students how they view being stopped by the police. Are they afraid to get pulled over? And why? I would also want to know if their parents included instructions on how to act/react in the event they did get stopped. I’m guessing again that most of our white students wouldn’t have had this type of discussion. Next I would ask why they hadn’t had this type discussion /training. Did they think it was unusual Starr’s parents had this discussion with her? Do they think other Black families have these discussions and why? I would also discuss do police officers treat people differently depending on race? Gender? General appearance? There’s much in the way of topics and perceptions to discuss.
Powerful book! Great choice and I agree that it’s hard not to filter this book through your own perspective. My family is multiracial. I completely understood Starr’s role as a reluctant ambassador between 2 worlds. I thought Angie did a fantastic job of identifying the issues Starr faced in this role. Really fresh writing with the ring of truth. Where I had a harder time was with the white boyfriend, Chris. I appreciated his character arc, but I wanted more understanding of how they were able to connect in the first place. Not to say that this wasn’t addressed, but I guess it didn’t resonate as deeply as say, Hailey. Hailey. My daughter has encountered many Haileys in her private school environment. Some with mean intent. Some who don’t get it and don’t want to be bothered. It’s such an important perspective.
So I teach elementary, but that doesn’t mean I won’t use this book. I will pull from it for meaningful discussions. And I’m incredibly grateful for the perspective of Starr and her family and community. It has deepened my understanding of the community I teach. I will recommend it to many of my fellow teachers.
Interestingly enough, I finished reading All American Boys just before I read The Hate U Give. I’ve had All American Boys on my desk since the beginning of the school year and just not gotten around to reading it, but I finally did, and then I picked up this book because of this summer reading group. Both books gave me a new perspective on police brutality. I must admit that I couldn’t understand the riots that recently took place in Baltimore, MD as a result of perceived police brutality. I honestly don’t know the whole story of what happened to bring about these riots, but I remember being appalled that they would torch their own community in protest. My feeling was why destroy what is important to your own community? How does that help your cause? I don’t understand the looting either. That just seems like a convenient way to steal from others. We humans sure can rationalize anything if we want to. I saw the same thing in The Hate U Give. Once mob mentality takes over, things happen that don’t really advance the cause and Starr saw this. Actually, I thought the “die-in” in All American Boys was more effective.
I also have to admit that I was initially turned off by the vernacular in The Hate U Give. As an educator, I want everyone to talk like they are educated so that they are not discriminated against because of the way they speak. The idea of being bilingual was an interesting concept for me–not denying heritage, but acknowledging the need to speak a certain way in certain situations. I learned a lot with both books and plan to book talk both of these books to my high school students.
Dr. Noma Lemoine created a program in LAUSD called Academic English Mastery that helps us work with students who don’t speak Standard English at home. It opened my eyes as an educator. More info is available on the LAUSD website.
I understand your need to teach standard English, but there’s a TEDtalk video you should probably watch called Three Ways to Speak English by Jamila Lyiscott which can provide some perspective on this : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9fmJ5xQ_mc
I teach 7th in a rural west school (miners, ranchers) and predominantly white. The language would not go over well with parents and school board. But, it’s a book I could recommend to certain students. I personally was not bothered by the language. It made the movement of BLM grey and not so rigid; not so “black and white.” Starr had dimension and gave dimension to many characters as you followed her journey. I giggled along with Starr and friends. And I was hesitant about finishing it because I feared even more tragedy. But the most poignant, to me, was her family and their love for each other. Oh, to have grown up in such a strong bond, made me almost jealous. I loved her parents and Uncle Carlos. It is a book I will recommend to my cousin who teaches poetry/Poetry Slam in the Bay Area. Great pick and recommendation.
I also really enjoyed this book! Beyond the fact that the story is ridiculously relevant, I was invested in the characters and how human they are. While there are so many narratives surrounding Black Lives Matter, police shootings, etc, Starr navigates the common conflict of, “I’m not feeling/responding to events the way I ‘should,'”and then moving on from that feeling. I feel like that is the window to discussing this book amongst conflicting opinions on current events. The truth is, how you feel is perfectly valid, and it’s okay to disagree as long as you can respect that. (Hailey didn’t quite get there.)
I currently teach science, so although I won’t be using the text with students, I am grateful for the opportunity to read through someone else’s perspective, and I will make a cognitive effort to allow space for my students to have their experiences validated in our room, school, and community!
I loved the book but you made some good points. I just noticed on the best seller list it says the book is for 14 and up. That made me think about how many parents would try to shut it down in the classroom due to sex and/or language. Then I felt sad because I think some of them could potentially try to shut it down because it’s an uncomfortable topic. :/
But I loved it, and I agreed with you about the rioting, and wishing there would have been more on that.
One of the best books I’ve read in quite some time. The characters become so real and the topics are so relevant. I teach middle school and would use this for my 8th graders. I teach in an urban, high poverty and high minority school. I believe the language and inferences would actually draw my kids in, not a sterile text, there are parts that mirror my kids lives.
I teach 8th too, and I used the framework of “Windows and Mirrors” to help us discuss literature this year. A mirror reflects us and helps us see ourselves more clearly, and a window lets us look out to see people and experiences beyond ourselves.
It was my first year doing it, and I have some tweaks, but on the whole, it was a really powerful way of discussing and connecting with texts.
I could never get this book approved, but I can pull excerpts to pair with To Kill a Mockingbird.
I teach 6th grade in an urban setting, and I’ve wrestled with whether to include the book in my library. I think I ultimately will, as I label books with mature language/themes, and I encourage parents to discuss book choices with their child. This was a tough read, and I think I just had to put it down at times. It was so intense, and I can’t imagine living each day with that intensity. I agree with an earlier comment about Starr & Chris – I didn’t really get their connection, at first. I was ultimately glad that she allowed him in to see both worlds of Starr. But, I have to admit that I was sad that she and Khalil never had the chance to connect in that way. I hate that the reality of the situation of Starr and her family is that they had to leave the neighborhood in order to attain security and success. I loved the adults in Starr’s family – lovingly, but firmly, establishing family values. Thanks for the choice!
I teach 8th grade Language Arts in Honduras, Central America, so I thought the struggles in the book would not resonate with my homogenous Honduran group of students. As I dove into the book – which I could not put down, it captivated me so! – I thought more and more how the way the author wrote the conflicts within Starr and how she was faced with difficult choices was as relevant as you can get to teenagers in general, not just in the States.
It pains me to not be able to use this book in my class, but I have to respect the conservative rules in my school. Since it is recommended for 14 years and up, plus the language and sexual topic (which was very well done – a great way to look at knowing when you are ready or not for yourself, and the respectful acceptance from the partner), I would not include it in my classroom library. However, such a well written book would definitely be a good mentor text for workshop. I hope to be able to use it in that way without it being an issue.
Thank you for selecting this book. It was eye-opening, thought-provoking, and a joy to read.
I didn’t teach it formally but got books donated through Donors choose and just let students borrow if they were interested. Word of mouth spread. Even though it was finals, over 20 students borrowed the book to read. I teach in south central and the students could relate to the characters. I an hoping to use it in the future to spawn research ideas about the topics touched in the book. A great read
I love hearing about all those kids borrowing the book voluntarily. It’s this kind of book that can turn a non-reader into a life-long lover of books.
I so appreciated this book. The perspective is so unique and relevant to what is happening in our country. As you mentioned, as a white woman, I also felt privileged to be allowed this glimpse into the reality of so many Americans. I cried through so much of the book and my heart breaks for everyone for whom this is daily life. As a 6th grade teacher, I wouldn’t teach it as a whole class novel, but I definitely have students to whom I’d recommend it.
I found this a very powerful work and would love to have my students read it. I think that the perspective of Hailey and the police officer could lead to further discussion, although I think it unlikely that any of my students would take their point of view. I do think it might help open a discussion of the fact that my race is different from theirs and discuss the difference between the two cultures Starr finds herself torn between.
Like many in this discussion, I LOVED this book. I would like so much to incorporate it into my English 2 curriculum (To Kill a Mockingbird, Julius Caesar, etc.), but I know the parent/school board push back would be intense (I experienced this with another controversial book I used a few years back). Any advice from folks who have had success in incorporating a controversial text into their conservative district is most appreciated. In the meantime, I will check out All American Boys to see if that might be a better option… either way, this book will be recommended to my students for independent book projects.
My students are fantastic, but they are predominantly upper middle class white kids who often speak disparingly about BLM… not because they are bad kids, but because they just don’t get it. I think this book can help bring about a new dialogue.
Thanks for choosing this book… and thanks to Angie Thomas for writing such an important text.
Jodi Picoult’s SMALL GREAT THINGS may bring a similar reaction to students (I read with my tenth graders). I skirt the issue by having the book as a choice (AR). Therefore, I am not forcing kids to read it. Also, I felt the profanity was important as part of the character’s dialect.
I absolutely love this book. THUG made me laugh, cry, and angry. Best book I’ve read in a long time.
I teach 7th grade ELA in an extremely urban school in TN. I personally don’t see any concerns with the book but since my school is on the watch list, I can see this being something. So I talked with the reading specialist and I’m doing this Urban Fiction book club unit where we are reading THUG, All American Boys, Yummy, and Homeboys. I need one more book, so any recommendations will be greatly appreciated.
What about something by Jacqueline Woodson? I’ve not read all her books, but the ones I’ve read handle race and class carefully and with complexity.
This was a great book to kick off summer reading. I couldn’t put it down. I am at a small school, super religious, super conservative. I don’t believe this would be a good book for my 8th grade students in my area. The content and language would have me called in. I definitely recommended it to my high school teacher.
The author’s writing style would be an interesting study with students (I could find places without F bombs.) I feel she captured the voices of the characters and I loved her style. I definitely have parents on my radar who I feel their child could handle this text.
Great first read!
Cathy, I wonder if, in a community like yours, a teacher might start by inviting parents to join in on a book study with you and students. It would be purely voluntary. The teacher might only get 5 or 6 interested families, but it would be a start.
I think the Hate U Give works well with All American Boys, Lock Down and Between the World and Me. For older students, I’d also have them watch Ava Durvunay’s documentary 13. Because of my schedule, I would use this book and/or theme for a book club as I’m doing this summer with 5 students. A suggestion for teaching the book would be to invite a policer officer to speak with students on their role as the law enforcement and also how they should respond when being questioned by the police.
I think Starr’s refusal to recognize 113 (I can’t remember his name) by his name diminishes him as human being and creates cognitive dissonance in the same way that marginalized people are treated by the dominant society with regard to race, gender, sexuality etc. I think it makes an excellent talking point. In All American Boys, we get a more nuanced view of the officer involved and there’s also the added twist that the protagonist father is a cop/former cop.
This is my experience: In blighted urban areas there are feelings of self-loathing, apathy and fear. People who don’t like themselves do not like those who look like them and could care less where they live. Many times they are struggling to make ends meet and they are renters. They are apathetic because they don’t think they can ever get ahead. They also fear the police and believe that doing harm to white people or their property will result in stiffer penalties. Research shows this to be true. So when these unarmed shootings happen that rage and fear has to go somewhere. It’s like a man who’s angry with his boss. He won’t bite the hand that feeds him; he’ll come home and beat his wife and kids. Same thing with riots. This is not to excuse rioting and/or looting. It is an explanation of what I have seen. And that which implodes will explode at which time something will be done about it. Also, not all BLM protests are equal. There are various groups of people organizing and marching. The protests I’ve participated in have all been peaceful. The later it gets, the rowdier the crowd, and the rowdy crowd makes for a better news story.
Stephanie, thanks for all of this, especially your thoughts on rioting vs. protesting. The last sentence — “the rowdy crowd makes for a better news story” is so important. Depending on where we get our news (and this becomes more important every day), we will get a completely different picture of what is happening on the ground level. When responsible journalists commit to showing peaceful protests rather than focusing only on those who loot and destroy property, public perception and support may shift. Until then, we have live streaming, which can really level the playing field in terms of telling the whole, unedited truth.
I had an epiphany during the reading. The point at which they reveal nigga is an acronym hit me hard because I recall stopping a father of one of my students who was speaking to my class to refrain from using it during his presentation. I thought it was something he created himself and although I understood the point was to redefine and redirect the negative connotation of the word, I had no idea it was a circulating movement. So, 4 years after that talk, I feel terribly misinformed and recognized I was censoring something that needed to be heard by my students. Of course, I can’t stand the word but it exists and this man was trying to change it. In hindsight, I failed my kids that day. I’m Hispanic but never have experienced the fear of police killing me at a stop light. I can’t even. Ultimately, I’ve learned in time that being black in America is far different from being any other race in this country and the struggle will continue for a long time. So, we must teach our kids thsee lessons in order to undo the bigoted mess they see in their own lives through television, in the streets, and within their own families. Educators have so much power here.
As I began this book, I was ready to put it down after chapter 5. I am a wife to a military policeman, and we have many police friends. I was afraid this was going to categorize all police as bad. I realize there is good and bad in every walk of life. I decided to continue on, and I became connected to Starr. I could not put it down because I needed to know how she faced her fears.
Thank you to Angie Thomas for allowing us to see into a part of our world that we may not be a part of on a regular basis. A story unfolded with Starr being faced with many internal struggles from finding her voice about what she witnessed, her boyfriend, her friends, being herself, and her family dynamics. I found myself becoming immersed in her struggles and cheered for her as a girl who had witnessed tragedy and rose above it.
I would not make it a part of my reading requirements due to teaching 7th grade, but I see it being used at upper levels.
Cindy, thank you for continuing to read past chapter 5. I would love to hear more about how the book influenced your thinking about the current situation between law enforcement and the Black population.
I predominantly teach seventh grade social studies, but I also serve as a library assistant one period a day at a junior high school, grades 7-9. That is why I signed up for the YA Book Club. I tend to read about five YA titles each year in order to stay somewhat current with what the kids are reading. I like to be able to converse with the students about what they are reading, their likes and dislikes. I thought the structure of a summer book club would serve as a catalyst to read more YA titles this year. Thank you for hosting, Jennifer.
Reading The Hate U Give was an exceptional reading experience for me. As I turned each page, I wanted to learn more about the characters, their daily lives, their relationships, and how their worldview was impacted by their personal experiences. It provided a window into a world I am unfamiliar, but have observed through national news reporting. The Hate U Give is a timely, relevant read, and it personified the reality of racism. It has broadened my understanding of others’ life experiences.
I really just want to say thanks for bringing this book to my attention. I am a high school English teacher in Australia (although currently teaching in a primary (elementary) setting, so won’t be using this book any time soon). The subject matter is so completely outside our society and culture and this book is both educational and thought provoking. I do some some issues with certain aspects of the storyline (Chris, the way Starr’s family cross the rich/poor line) but also feel like these issues are due to my (relative) naïvety of life (cost of living etc) in contemporary America.
I teach 7th grade ELA, and while I won’t use this as a class book, I will recommend it to my more mature students. I finished this book last night, just after hearing that the jury acquitted the officer who killed Philando Castile, making Starr’s mention of him even more poignant.
This book could be such an eye opener and it sickens me that it is so relevant. If more people read books like this, perhaps it can affect change – if not to our “justice” system, at least to our perspectives.
I did find that some of it was long and unnecessary. For example, I loved that some time was spent on the characterization of Starr’s family building compassion and empathy from the reader, but it felt a bit repetitive when it came to the relationship between her parents.
I also felt that, after spending so much time leading up to the grand jury’s verdict, there was not enough time spent after. It would be nice to read some ways that Starr (and thus us, the readers) could make a difference, things that can be done. But maybe reading the book and passing it on is the first step.
I loved this book and could definitely imagine teaching it in my school, a charter school that serves predominantly Native American students. (We already teach the Sherman Alexis book coming up later this summer.) However, as a white person,l who went to mostly white schools growing up, I am really interested in the role of literature to help students understand and relate to characters who are quite different from themselves. While The Hate U Give isn’t a super high level book in terms of text complexity, I think that might allow adolescents to more easily relate to the characters. I hope this novel is read far and wide by students who don’t have much experience or context about privelidge and systemic oppression. I loved the book!
I like that this book gave me a new and unique perspective on a topic that I honestly know very little about. It helps me to better understand the backgrounds of some of my students and the issues that they may be dealing with at home. As a middle school teacher, I would not teach this as a whole class novel, but I might recommend it to some students. I think that it would be a good addition to an 8th grade classroom library, and that it might entice some of our reluctant readers. Unfortunately, many of our students do deal with inappropriate language, drugs, and sex in middle school, but I could see backlash from the more conservative parents. I am interested in checking out some of the others titles that have been recommended that contain less profanity and sexual topics, since I think they might be more appropriate for everyone in middle school.
I also would like to have a better understanding of the rioting aspect of the novel. I appreciate that Starr understood that the destruction and looting of stores was not going to help the situation. There is a big difference between peaceful protesting and destructive rioting, and I think that the rioting is what can create a lack of empathy and support.
Thank you for bringing this book to my attention!
I’m so thankful for hearing about this book. And I’m very thankful that I teach at a school that I will be able to use it with no issues from parents or administration. (well, I’m the administration, so…) I teach at an international school in the Czech Republic and there are racist issues here with Roma people. I’m constantly trying to get the students to see outside of their own experiences to build empathy. While the experiences of Starr and Khalil and DeVante are different, I think this book will be able to open up a wider discussion about race and racism. I’ll be pairing it with TKAM in my grade 10 class next year. I, too, felt that the relationship with Chris and the riots were not developed enough, they didn’t seem to ring true to the rest of the book. But the rest of the book certainly outweighed these for me.
I didn’t get THUG until this past Friday and I just now made it through part 1.
I teach 10th grade English at a title 1 school in Austin, Texas. Jen already knows this, but 1 year and 4 months ago one of my former students, David Joseph, was shot and killed by an Austin police officer. David was black, NAKED, and unarmed. There are still so many questions surrounding his death.
I have cried multiple times reading this book, and like I said, I’m only through part 1. And David was not a student that I had a super strong relationship with; I was actually much closer to his friends since he wound up transferring schools before his senior year. But still, I knew him. And his family. And the way Starr questions things, the way she describes how she feels when she hears other people’s judgements is exactly how I have felt (and still feel sometimes) in the days and months following David’s death. The funeral chapter was particularly hard, and some of the other things like her seeing the news and them not using Khalil’s name at all…it just made me think of David’s friends and family. This book is unfortunately more real than some people realize.
I wrote a blog post about dealing with David’s death and the conversations I’ve had with students about police brutality and racism. My blog post has made it easier for me to talk with students about this, and that includes students who “side” with David and students who “side” with the police. It’s hard to remain unbiased but I do respect all my students’ perspectives and require that they show they respect others as well. In the end, we are all human, and as Starr’s mom reminds her…sometimes love is bigger than the mistakes people make.
I do think I will add THUG to my classroom library; I just added All American Boys in March and my kids loved it. I think the drugs and sex mentioned is useful in that it’s part of the reality teenagers deal with every day. If parents have an issue with teenagers exploring real world issues, I’ll have conferences with them if necessary. 9/10 times though I’m lucky enough to not have to deal with parents saying the content is inappropriate. If anything the content in THUG is enlightening and opens the doors for productive conversations.
Looking forward to reading Part 2; I’ve got my tissues ready.
Like many who have posted here, I live in a conservative community, where most people subscribe to the idea that America is colorblind, that everyone has the same opportunities. That’s why, as a future teacher in this community, it is so important to me to expose students to a different narrative. They are the future, and the best way to advocate change is to help them have empathy for each other, and to be critical thinkers. The diction that Thomas employs, as well as the complex characters and active plot, make it a book that kids will not only want to read, but will want to discuss as well. I’m not only a future teacher, I’m a mom of two daughters, 17 and 21 years old. I’m actually a little surprised that there is some concern about the content of this book. Kids are exposed to worse sexual content and language than this on a daily basis. Instead of trying to shield them, which in this age of tech is impossible anyway, we should be having discussions about the repercussions of offensive language, or the consequences of unprotected sex. This book, along with being a window into a world that the majority of us have not had to endure, is a great vehicle to talk to kids about issues that relate to us all. On a side-note, my 17 year old is reading it right now, and she loves it. She actually puts her phone down to read, and that’s the best recommendation I can give!
I really appreciate that you brought this novel to my attention! I teach grades K-6, so I did not plan to use it for instructional purposes. However, I will have no hesitation in recommending this to my 15 year old daughter.
I read the book because I love YA as a genre, and I am always interested in reading literature that helps me understand a world I don’t know very much about. Because I teach English language learners, I was partiularly interested in Starr’s experience with code-switching, and with feeling that she is part of two different worlds. I disagree with the negative comment about the author’s choice to write in vernacular, but I understand the conflict. We all want our students to be able to successfully navigate the world, and this includes being able to communicate in the language of those in power: standard academic English. However, we are not going to be able to connect with our students unless they understand that we respect who they are right now and where they come from before we provide them the tools (and language) they may need for future success. And of course this is also problematic because ultimately we should have a desire that the world of those in power have a greater diversity of language, culture, and race. I agree with the idea that people can be bilingual and not give up their identity and background. I had a professor in college who modeled this brilliantly and it had a huge impact.
As a reader, I identified strongly with the protagonists, even though I am a middle-aged white woman who grew up upper middle class. This is the power of a story well-told: I was able to fully enter a world I don’t know, and face head-on some very challenging and difficult truths regarding race and racism in this country. I particularly appreciated the candid conversation regarding African American given names. The story provided a vehicle to explore a controversial subject, and the characters themselves were able to talk about it because they knew each other well enough to engage in an honest dialogue. Knowing that the author clearly thought carefully about names, I looked up the meaning of Khalil. It means “friend.”
Last note to my ramblings:
Even though I am not planning to use this text directly in my instruction to elementary school students, it has still had a positive influence on me as an educator. It helped me to understand our world from a different perspective. Thanks for YA book club this summer!
I would also like to thank you for choosing this title to kick off your summer reading book club. I would agree with you on that while reading the book I felt like an observer, looking through a window I would otherwise not be able to look through. The book does a good job of showing how the media can manipulate a story and is quick to judge someone based on their circumstances. I don’t think I would teach this book in the middle school classroom because of the strong language that it has but I think it has helped make it more present in my mind of the struggles that are faced by these communities. I feel after having read this book I am more educated on the relationship between these communities and the police. One moment that blew me away was during the description of the mental checklist Starr goes through when she encounters a police office. (Remembering badge numbers, keeping hands in the open, no sudden movements) This topic has been so prevalent in the news lately that I feel this book does the other point of view justice. Education is power and this past weekend I saw this quote on a wall that is so appropriate, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
I got a late start and just finished this book this afternoon. I found it very powerful. I teach university students, so while a slightly target audience, freshmen and sophomores are just one step away from the characters in this book. I like how the book hits on some of the internal struggles – hating the cops, but Starr’s uncle is a cop; mad at white people, but Starr’s boyfriend is white. I think this struggle and conflict is a realistic feeling that many can relate to. I know I struggle with issues like this – institutional racism, but what I do in the same situation? I am not doing a social issue book assignment this fall, but would certainly add this to my list if I were.
There’ve been many great points made in this thread already; I mostly just want to chime in to say that I really appreciated having this book brought to my attention. I felt it gave me a window into an experience that is not my own, and helped me to understand other viewpoints and experiences. I think this would be a wonderful book to open a conversation about so many things – race relations, the Black Lives Matter movement, etc. I will definitely be recommending this book to others and to my students. I think it would need to be handled carefully in a classroom, but is an important book and topic. Part of the power and possibility of literature for me is that it can allow readers to experience or see other perspectives, worlds, and experiences, and that is a critical first step to understanding.
I’m just posting now because I’ve been traveling and away from internet, but I did finish the book a couple of weeks ago and have found my thoughts often returning to the characters and situations in the novel.
Thanks so much for introducing me to The Hate U Give and for facilitating the conversation here! I’m loving the summer book club.
I’m still reading the book, but the contents of this book echo much of my childhood. Specifically, I can relate as I grew up in DC, was in a single-parent family, and was on free and reduced lunch from k-12th grade. The crack epidemic hit DC hard so it was common to see people strung out. Some of the boys that attended high school with me sold drugs. One was my boyfriend in 10th grade. I know what it feels like to be black and female and be perceived as angry or ghetto or easy. Intersectionality is not a theory, but a pervasive system that oppresses. My friends in elementary school asked me why I “talked white”. Being articulate and enunciating words were synonymous with whiteness. Neighborhood crews were just like gangs and what hood you repped was important. I remember my family being disappointed with me when I engages in an interracial relationship when I was 22 and graduating from college. With respect to the rioting, I empathize. The collective anger that builds up over time bubbles over or explodes when you feel voiceless and powerless. This is why voice and choice are such important components in classrooms. Culturally responsive material with uncomfortable discussion is needed as well.
I appreciate this read because identity is so key with Starr and her father.
I’ll stop here and post again when I finish.
Thank you as always Jennifer for having this every summer!
Wow. Thanks for a fabulous 1st read for this book club. I most recently taught kindergarten, and have young kids of my own, so YA literature is not an area where I am strong or very knowledgeable. I was so excited about this book club, so I can grow my “YA skill set”, as my professional role now is on the curriculum side.
So hard to put into a paragraph my insights after reading this book. I will highly recommend this text to many folks. We are in a tough time, but progress in being made with BLM. Perspective and empathy are the keys. This book contributes to both. Again, thank you Jennifer!
Last year on a “pick your own argument topic” essay, dozens of students wrote about BLM. I admit, I just didn’t get it. I get it much better now…but I want someone I can discuss this with. I want to discuss this with a black teacher and hear his/her thoughts. Not sure if I can do a book study at school on it, but I’m putting together some edgy titles with optional discussion time. I know I have a lot to learn…I would split up, I serve mac n cheese for the entree, and my dog kisses me on the mouth.
I highly recommend this text. I loved reading it and really learned a lot from it. I am a middle school resource room teacher and probably won’t be able to use it in class, but can use the contents to be a better teacher.
I’m the HS librarian in an urban district. I’ve been teaching in this district for 25 years. I actually received a free copy of The Hate U Give from Donalyn Miller’s Book A Day giveaway on Facebook. Tonight myself and 4 of our English teachers had a book discussion on The Hate U Give. We all loved it. Our speech coach said he had seen performances based on the book done in speech tournaments. Our district has an Equity & Inclusion initiative…but this book, even after teaching in an urban district for 25 years, spoke more to me than a whole year of “meetings”. My students will will love this book because they will see themselves and their friends, family, and acquaintences in the characters. Equally as important, a friend of mine, who is white and lives in an affluent suburb, is reading the book based on my recommendation…. AND is having her two sons read it. Literature like is this is amazing. It helps us see different lives, perspectives, and viewpoints. I only wish more people would expand their comfort zones and read books with characters who are different from themselves and their lives. I love that I stumbled across this website and I love that there is a summer book study with diverse characters.
While reading the story, I viewed the character of Hailey through Star and her mother’s eyes, and her mother seemed generally wise with her suggestions, and it is okay to outgrow friendships as we get older and become more aware of ourselves. However, as I was watching your Youtube post, you said something about the universality of Hailey that made me rethink my position. We know the primary way people learn acceptance and the ability to confront other points of view is through exposure to a variety of perspectives and typically care and relationships with people who have those perspectives. So, if Hailey represents the “All Lives Matter” type thinking or the white people who just don’t get it, I’m wondering how they will ever be able to get it if they get cut off from further relationships when they don’t have an immediate shift in perspective?
I’m just finding this thread as I’m reading The Hate U Give right now. I was planning on putting it on my classroom library shelves, but I teach 7th grade. Thoughts?
I would like to hear others’ thoughts on this. I don’t think I would make it freely available to 7th graders, mostly because there’s some sexual stuff in it and a lot of profanity. I think it really depends on the community you live in. I would recommend you read the book and check out Common Sense Media’s review of it.
9th grade ELA teacher in the Bronx. I’m loving The Hate You Give, and I’m wondering how to best approach it in my 50 min/ day classroom. Do you think it is better as a whole class novel or a book club selection? If a whole class novel, how to avoid over or under teaching? Thank you so much, and I love your blog!
My gut tells me to do it as a book club; students who read it will talk about it to others, who will then want to read it. Would like to hear what others think, though!
I love “The Hate U Give” and feel it is a piece of literature that all should have on their reading list. Does anyone have experience with using this book at a Catholic High School? I am concerned about parent reaction to the language and some of the sexual nature.
Is The Hate U Give not appropriate for 8th graders?
I went to order 10 copies of The Hate U Give through the library system along with 10 copies of All American boys because it was recommended from my doctoral program. Before I could do place the order, I needed approval from my school. I was pulled into the office by my administrators and told under no uncertain terms would I be allowed to teach this book because of implied sex and foul language. She said middle school students are not allowed to read books like that in the classroom. This led to my administator telling me I need to make sure that I removed all books from my classroom bookshelves that might have any illusions to sex or foul language whatsoever and gun violence too for that matter. I was told by my assistant principal that there’s no way that I would be allowed to be discussing race in a classroom with 17 black kids and 4 white kids It just would not be tolerated. She said it is not my place to share my views in the classroom whatsoever, our principle is conservative and we are to do what we’re told.
Hi, Ann Marie. I work for Cult of Pedagogy, and yes, unfortunately, despite the fact that The Hate U Give is a really important book that would be valuable for a lot of kids to read, it does contain some material that may not be appropriate for middle school kids and younger. Jenn talks about this in the 2017 YA book club post. You may also want to read a little more about it in the discussion comments.
It’s a shame you’re not allowed to discuss these very important issues in your classroom, where our kids really need us to be able to model how to talk about sensitive issues in a constructive manner. Other ways you can support students of color without necessarily having to discuss race directly can be found in these posts: Four Ways Teachers Can Support Students of Color and Are We Meeting the Needs of Our Black Girls.
I wonder if there are some moments in the text that are only (or nearly only) accessible to black folk. I’m thinking specifically of the funeral and the descriptive elements that accompany it.
What about the funeral scene do you feel is only accessible to black folk? I’m genuinely intrigued by this comment.
Thank you for starting this conversation. I just finished reading this realistic fiction, keeping in mind that I may want to teach the novel to a future High School class (I’m currently in grad school earning my MAT/Single Subject English credential). I have the same anxieties about teaching this novel, yet my gut tells me it is a phenomenal work on a critical subject matter that will engage students in a meaningful way. Isn’t that what we as educators, especially in a humanities field, seek to accomplish with our students? It was evident viewing your video that you genuinely care about raising awareness on these issues and expanding the perspectives of all students, so I commend you and would say “just go for it”. That’s what I plan to do. If and when you get backlash from parents/admin/etc., then you could always fall back to the argument that books such as “Call of The Wild” by Jack London, “Catcher In The Rye”, “Great Gatsby”, heck- even “The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn” were all considered too controversial to be read in schools.
Controversy creates conversations, and conversations create action. Action creates change. If we want our students to feel inspired and take ownership over their lives and their futures, or at the very least learn to understand multiple perspectives and empathize (find commonality) with others, then this book screams “read me”.
Thank you for starting this thread. I look forward to reading future comments.
Difficult conversations can be uncomfortable, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t necessary. Thanks for sharing, Angela!
Hey! Loved this so much that I will be using it this year with my ninth graders. Do you have any specific resources that you have collected for this book? Looking to plan a impactful unit!
Hi Tyler! I work for Cult of Pedagogy…we don’t have any resources for THUG, but if you aren’t already part of the 2ndary ELA Facebook group, that’s where you should head! There are lots of ideas hanging out there. Best of luck!
Hello from Sweden. I plan on using this novel in my English teaching, and I’m looking for a webpage where you can listen to the book for free (for students with reading difficulties). I’ve found a YouTube video, but it’s difficult to use since there are no indications about when in the video the chapters begin and end. So I need something else. Can anyone help me out?
I came to this site searching for opinions on the age appropriateness of The Hate U Give. I teach 7th Grade Literature in an Urban Emergent District in a racially and ethnically diverse mid-size, MidWestern city. In the past decade, our city has received nationwide notoriety for its levels of violent crime, and lack of health and educational attainment. The general consensus is that our school district has been failing our students for decades, especially our students from racial and ethnic minority groups.
Despite the challenges at the school I teach at, I contend that we have one of the most responsive librarians in the country. She grapples with the moral dilemmas of giving students access to controversial literature, as she tries to stock the library full of books that are responsive to the needs and interests of our students. She recommended The Hate U Give after I told her how much the students loved her previous suggestion of Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds.
My students love it. Engagement is off the charts and library book check-outs have spiked as students try to check out their own copy or search for related books. The librarian has ordered dozens more copies of The Hate U Give, as well as other fiction and non-fiction books on social justice, and the students are devouring this literature.
At times I still get nervous about some of the language and content, but I do think their engagement says something about the responsive nature of the text for our student population. We combine our study of the book with restorative practice circles about violence, drug use, and sexual activity, to provide age-appropriate support and guidance. Many of our students are dealing with issues related to these things in their lives, often with insufficient guidance, and this book has provided opportunities for us to discuss these things in authentic ways. I hope our practices are equipping students with social emotional skills and coping mechanisms. Additionally, we have had some profound discussions about race, in a diverse city and school where racial tensions often run high. I am not always sure if I am doing the right thing, but I do feel like I am doing a responsive thing.
Thank you so much for sharing this! I actually read it twice as it just really touched me — I don’t think we ever truly know if we’re doing the “right” thing, but whenever we are responsive to kids and their needs and we then see them engaging, communicating, and being interested … then I think we must be doing something right.
Although you’re already doing some restorative justice practices and studying social justice issues through literature, in case you haven’t already seen them, you may be interested in the following resources : Voice of Witness: Bring the Power of Oral History to Your Classroom, Restorative Justice in School: An Overview and the resources on our Race, Culture, Social Justice Pinterest board.
Summer 2020. I am finally reading and preparing to teach the Hate U Give in my 10th grade General Level course. I am in a rural, northern, generally impoverished, white, politically (and socially?) conservative region of the US. Heroin has been having a significant impact on families, students are coming to school from food and safety insecure situations. There is a healthy respect for the law that somehow corresponds with an in-your-face live free or die approach to encounters (no, this is not New Hampshire…). There is very little racial diversity. The Confederate flag hangs (yes, we are very far north…) neck in neck with the American flag. There is a well established and conscious pride in all things rural, white, and ‘American’.
My challenge is to provide experiences for my students that will give them an opportunity to see things in different ways, develop curiosity, and make tangible and long lasting connections between themselves and their peers across the country and around the world. I have seen the disaster of diversity programming teaching white privilege from a pulpit of higher education and the desire to improve others. No one responds well to being told what they think, what to think, and how they need to change the way they view the world. If anything this approach aids in entrenching the belief systems that support systemic racism, classism, sexism, etc.
So…in my classes…I am looking for ways to expose my kids to life within and outside of their own borders in ways that draw them into a space where they feel safe enough to experiment with their own thoughts and belief systems.
So…along with The Hate U Give (which for the 2020-21 school year is an absolute must do…), I would like to use a text that is of the same caliber and intensity that takes a good look into the lives of America’s ‘white trash’. ‘The Outsiders’ is no longer as relevant, and while I may love it forever, my students are not going to be engaged enough to gain the momentum needed to face their literacy deficiencies.
Does anyone have any suggestions? The texts I know the best are older and I would really love to have something contemporary.
My thinking is that my kids always think that books are about stuff they don’t have anything to do with. People and events ‘from away’. I would love to show them that they are also represented with the same type of lens as other populations in the US. If they can experience this, they will be able to face the experiences of reading The Hate U Give with some personal investment…
Does anyone here have any titles they would recommend for this type of course work?