The Hate U Give is appropriate for a ninth-grade Oklahoma English class because the standards for this grade level call for students to evaluate points of view and perspectives in grade-level literary text and explain how multiple points of view contribute to the meaning of a piece of work. This novel is an excellent example to use in the classroom because students will become acquainted with the characters and the events that lead to their individual stories. This novel is thriving with literary merit and will offer opportunities for students to analyze characters, themes, symbolism, and motifs such as “Tupac Shakur’s concept of “thug life” which is quoted many times throughout the novel.
The concept of “thug life” explains the recurring nature of poverty and how systemic racism is the main culprit which can be a springboard for discussing race relations, law enforcement, and the Black lives Matter movement. Because it is a novel that reflects upon reality and addresses social issues and their correlating movements happening right now, The Hate U Give will increase engagement by offering students a mirrored image of experience, speech, love of family, and community.
However, the novel does include instances that some students may be uncomfortable with; including profanity, implied sexual content, drug abuse, underage drinking, and violence. To lessen the impact of these instances, students will be provided with historical and contextual information before they read the novel. Additionally, a letter will be sent home to parents summarizing the potential issues and explaining the benefits, as well as encouraging them to read the book so they can discuss the content with their child further.
If a student is uncomfortable or becomes uncomfortable with the themes of the novel, an alternative text and assignment will be provided.
Aside from these potentially uncomfortable topics, the novel has many attributes that will hook students, connect them, and build relationships using the framework of windows and mirrors. Some may relate to Starr’s struggle to fit in, and her inspiring battle for justice or Hailey’s white perspective and the impact it has on her and Starr’s friendship. The high interest and real-world events will provide many opportunities to expand discussions into more themes besides racism. After the novel, students will expand on their knowledge and beliefs regarding social justice and racism. Also, they will have a better understanding of how literary themes connect to real-world events.