Unit Introduction: Point of View in Literature

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SWBAT read for structural choices in fiction and non-fiction.

Big Idea

The teller of the story IS the story.

Welcome to Point of View

POV in literature.  From Faulkner's As I Lay Dying to contemporary young adult fiction such as13 Reasons Why, understanding varying points of view and vectors of experience can be enlightening for all readers.  For teens, whose world views are in flux and formation, it is a critical democratic insight to understand and value perspectives that vary from ours.  Literature can provide a key means of growth in this aspect of truth because authors choose to craft literature from a particular--or even multiple!--points of view, and this gives the reader much to consider.  

CCSS connection.  In this unit and in the next one, we will be looking at point of view structurally (RL.9-10.5).  That is, we'll ask how the choice of point of view defines the story, how juxtaposing various points of view creates a structural framing (RL.9-10.5)for the insights carried in the story, and how the changing that point of view really changes the story altogether.  Thus, the maxim: the teller of of the story IS the story

Beauty.  I think this line of study is really a beautiful thing.  It guards against solipsism and a narcissistic view of the world, and it creates empathy for others.  It causes one to refine his or her view by considering how it might be different from an other's view.  Finally, as it pertains to the CCSS, I find it truly amazing that authors so carefully structure texts with point of view in mind, that this artistic choice is so defining for literature (RL.9-10.5).  Witness, for example, how different the recent novel, The Book Thief would be if it were told from a character's perspective instead of Death itself!  







image credit from wikimedia.org:

1,024 × 768 (50 KB) OsvaldoGago(talk | contribs) India. Photo: Mohan K {{cc-by-sa-2.0}} Category:366 Photographs on the beach


Upcoming lessons!

Ways of Knowing and Understanding -- I'm thrilled that you've decided to join me on this unit!  I'd be honored to hear about how you have used this material or about how you address point of view in your classroom!  Please leave a comment or tweet me at @pappag!

By getting students to understand the importance of point of view as a structural device (RL.9-10.5), we help our students to value the stories and insights of others!  The teller of the story, in many ways, IS the story!



What is Perspective? and "Mother to Son" – A strong mother offers words of advice in Langston Hughes’ classic poem.

 Shocking Rituals of the Nacirema – We read difficult, sociological non-fiction/essay to see the how backward our culture can be!  (American spelled backwards is?)

 Double Life in the Muck: "Hollywood and the Pits" (Day 1 of 2) – A challenging but interesting story told in two points of view: first person and scientific description!  How do we escape the pits in our lives and accept ourselves?

Double Life in the Muck: "Hollywood and the Pits" (Day 2 of 2) – We continue to explore this challenging story.  Heck, we could spend a month on it!  In taking our time here, we are getting ready for the key themes of self-acceptance and transformation that will arise in the next unit when we read American Born Chinese.

Collaborative Annotations: Diigo and Pre-Research for Background Knowledge – This is a transition lesson, getting us to read some background info for American Born Chinese from multiple sources and perspectives—with a techie twist. 


I'd like to thank my colleagues at UIC in the READi grant (link), Dr. Julia Emig and Dr. Sarah Levine in particular, for their insights and thoughtful questions to me as I prepared this unit.  I learned a great deal from them as I did from my colleague at Maine East, Natalie Bourn.

You are invited! Collaborate on these lessons!

Help!  This short set of  lessons and the unit that follows on American Born Chinese are exciting for me as a teacher but could be made better by your suggestions and insights!  Please respond to these lessons or tweet me at @pappag!   I'd love to incorporate your ideas as these lessons continue to get sharper and more developed!

Good teaching is never static and never the work of one sole individual.  Particularly as we explore point of view together in this unit, perspective is key!