Critical Literacy for Grades 7-9

Units of Study for Teaching Reading
A Workshop Curriculum Grades 7-9

Critical Literacy: Unlocking Contemporary Fiction


Lucy Calkins (Series Editor) • Mary Ehrenworth • Sonja Cherry-Paul • Heather Burns

“This unit is about cultural relevance and getting teens to fall in love with books that are deeply meaningful to the lives they are living right now. The unit will introduce young people to some of the great writers of their generation, the writers who are writing for them, and will create powerful opportunities for teens to share their voices and find their places in school and in the world.”

“The goal of this unit is to teach contemporary literature in a way that empowers our students as democratic readers, thinkers, and young activists.”

“Across the unit, readers will:

-Deepen their comprehension, studying summaries and reviews in preparation for reading and developing their own analytical summarizing techniques;
-Consider transactional reading practices, identifying the ways that readers bring their own identities to a text and that these identities share their responses;
-Be innovative in their writing about reading, annotating and taking longer-form notes in reading notebooks to engage more deeply with texts and other readers;
-Investigate power dynamics, power systems, and sources of power through theoretical lenses;
-Become literacy activists, learning to speak seriously and passionately about books they choose to read and recommend to book club peers.”

Mentor Text: Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Book Club - Student Options for "Unlocking Contemporary Fiction"
  • Swing, by Kwame Alexander
  • Rebound, by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile
  • Saints and Misfits, by S.K. Ali
  • Pashmina, by Nidhi Chanani
  • Class Act (New Kid series), by Jerry Craft
  • The Other Boy, by MG Hennessey
  • I'm Not Dying With You Tonight, by Kimberly Jones 
  • The Thing About Luck, by Cynthia Kadohata
  • Star at Oktober Bend, by Glenda Millard
  • The Stars Beneath Our Feet, by David Barclay Moore
  • The First Rule of Punk, by Celia C Perez
  • Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds
  • Hearts Unbroken, by Cynthia Leitich Smith
  • Dear Martin, by Nic Stone
  • Dear Justyce, by Nic Stone
  • Every Last Word, by Tamara Ireland Stone
  • Piecing Me Together, by Renee Watson
  • Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson
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