What books would you consider necessary and important reading for a young person today? This is the question students explore in this 50-minute lesson. After watching clips from the Hemingway documentary, students explore a list of recently published YA novels that are included in the activity. Then, they explore a list of books Hemingway recommended to young readers in 1934. Finally, they consider what books they’d recommend and what books they’d leave out today and create their own suggested-reading list.
What Hemingway left out of his writing was equally, if not more, important than what he said. Or was it? This is the argument students consider. First, they watch film clips from the documentary that describe how Hemingway came to form his style and how his style helps convey key themes in “Hills Like White Elephants.” Then, they will examine how this information expands their understanding, and possibly their appreciation of, the story. Finally, if you want to dig deeper, the lesson includes two optional writing assignments.
Consider using the educator guide to teach a complete unit. Or use some of the activities to expand on a small part of his biography or supplement something you’re already teaching (like trauma-informed creativity, or writer’s style, or descriptive language). No matter how you use the guide, you’ll find thoughtful, relevant concepts that both middle and high school students can embrace.
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