Topic: Fiction

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ELA High School

Trapped Chilean Miners Survive Isolation

Psychology Geography Fiction

In 2010, a copper and gold mine in northern Chile caved in. Thirty-three men were trapped 2,300 feet underground and were rescued 69 days later. Fortunately, this group established rules and structure and the confinement did not become a "Lord of the Flies" situation. The miners had little food or privacy, but kept each others' morale up. How do humans respond to isolation and a lack of structure? Listen to hear about the psychological risks and advantages of these scenarios.

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Editing jane austen

ELA High School

Editing Jane Austen

Literature Gender Fiction Classics Narrative Writing Process

Jane Austen wrote a new type of female character. Emma Woodhouse of "Emma" and Elizabeth Bennet in "Pride and Prejudice" are two memorable characters. They were charming but normal, flawed but winning. The legend of Austen is that she wrote her novels exactly as they were published, but the release of her original manuscripts suggests she had an active editor. Does it matter that an editor helped clean up Austen’s prose or is it her genius that shines through?

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Food safety and the jungle

ELA High School

Food Safety and 'The Jungle'

Politics Health Ethics Fiction Reform Informational Text Persuasive

Our food supply is considered safe today thanks in large part to a movement to improve safety following the publication of the novel in 1906, "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair. It was a vivid portrayal of the lives of immigrant families who worked in a meat-packing plant in Chicago. Americans were shocked and disgusted. This public radio story tells of how "The Jungle" galvanized public support to improve the safety of our food system.

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Saving literary masterpieces

ELA High School

Saving Literary Masterpieces

Literature Ethics Fiction Biography

Franz Kafka worked at an insurance company and wrote in his spare time. He asked that all his personal papers, including literary manuscripts be burned when he died. After Kafka’s death, his friend and literary executor Max Brod ignored Kafka’s wishes and published many of his manuscripts. "The Trial," a novel about law, justice and the arrest and prosecution of a man for an unknown crime, was one of these manuscripts. Other people face similar decisions around respecting the wishes of an artist or writer by destroying their work. Listen to a conversation with an ethicist as he discusses the implications of this debate through a modern day example.

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Hunger games and reality

ELA Middle School

'Hunger Games' and Reality

Civics/Government Fiction Dystopian Fiction

In Suzanne Collins’ "The Hunger Games" Trilogy, an all powerful Capital controls and exploits the districts of Panem for resources. The inequality and concentration of power in Panem has struck a nerve for readers, reflecting on their lives and their governments. Heroine Katniss Everdeen has become a symbol of resistance adopted by political parties and protest movements across the globe. Why and how does this dystopian novel reflect the real world? Listen to learn more about the link between “The Hunger Games” and our world today.

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Young adults and choices

ELA Middle School

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Natalie Babbitt Writes for Young Readers in 'Tuck Everlasting'

Literature Fiction Young Adult Literature Coming of Age

Author Natalie Babbitt has been writing books for young people for four decades. Her respect for young readers shines through in the themes of her novels, from love and everlasting life in “Tuck Everlasting” to money and dreams in her first non-fantasy novel, “The Moon Over High Street.” In this interview, Babbitt describes her perspective on writing for young people.

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Charles dickens reflects on society

ELA High School

Charles Dickens Reflects on Society

World History II Fiction Historical Fiction Industrialism Writing Process

Charles Dickens was the first literary celebrity of his era. He wrote about the working poor and the dangerous working conditions in England. A visit to the textile mills in Lowell, Massachusetts served as an inspiration for Dickens to continue writing about these London realities. Listen to this story to learn how Dickens reflected and questioned English society in his work.

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Macondo in one hundred years of solitude and today

ELA High School

The Setting of Macondo in 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'

Fiction World Literature Magical Realism

In 1967 Nobel prize winning Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote "One Hundred Years of Solitude". The novel takes place in the fictional and fantastical town of Macondo. Macondo serves as a setting as well as a metaphor for Colombia itself. The novel’s magical realism inspired a genre of writing and in an ironic twist of fate inspired the naming of the oil field that was blown out by the Deepwater Horizon explosion in 2011. Listen to learn more about the literary and thematic connections between the two.

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Life on and off the res

ELA Middle School

Life on and off the 'Rez': Native American Identity in Literature

Education Culture Fiction Storytelling Class Young Adult Literature Autobiography Humor

"The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," tells the story of Arnold Spirit, a young Native American who leaves the reservation to get a better education. In this semi-autobiographical book, author Sherman Alexie discusses big issues including choosing your identity, figuring out where you belong and the hardships American Indians face living on reservations.

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Social injustice and racism in to kill a mockingbird the civil rights movement and today

ELA High School

Injustice in 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and the Civil Rights Movement

Race Civil RIghts Fiction Protest Historical Fiction

The novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" was written more than 50 years ago and yet it’s themes of racism and civil rights remain relevant today. In this story author James McBride who wrote “The Color of Water” explains why the book inspired generations of American writers.

Update: In July 2015, a newly discovered novel written by Harper Lee in the 1950s, "Go Set a Watchman," will be published. Lee submitted this to her publishers before "How to Kill a Mockingbird" and the script was assumed to be lost until late 2014.

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A wrinkle in time continues its journey

ELA Middle School

'A Wrinkle in Time' Continues its Journey

Gender Fiction Science Fiction Children's Literature Young Adult Literature

"A Wrinkle in Time," a famous novel by Madeleine L’Engle, is the story of teenager Meg Murry. Meg is transported on an adventure through time and space with her younger brother and friend as they try to rescue her father. When it was originally published in 1963, no publisher knew how to promote it. What is it about “A Wrinkle in Time,” and why is it so controversial 50 years after its publication?

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Big brother in george orwells 1984 and today

ELA High School

George Orwell and Surveillance in '1984'

Law Ethics Fiction Historical Fiction

In a real-life case that has shades of George Orwell’s "1984," the United States Supreme Court must weigh the public good against privacy. Does putting a GPS monitoring device on the car of suspected criminals violate their privacy? Or does it protect society? Listen to this audio story which addresses the issues in the novel "1984," as you discuss this recent case.

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Yas first modern heroine anne of green gables

ELA Middle School

YA's First Modern Heroine: 'Anne of Green Gables'

Gender Fiction Drama Young Adult Literature

One of the most enduring novels written for young adults is "Anne of Green Gables," by Lucy Maud Montgomery, published in 1908. It was one of the first YA novels to feature a strong, unconventional female lead—Anne, the unwanted, unloved, but unbowed orphan who grabs hold of a chance for a new life and refuses to let go, no matter how difficult things get. Before Anne, most heroines were beautiful and angelic. "Anne of Green Gables" is over 100 years old, but its heroine measures up to any female lead contemporary YA novels have to offer.

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A friendship between fantasy greats

ELA High School

A Friendship Between Fantasy Writers C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien

Fiction Biography Science Fiction

Two famous authors, C.S. Lewis and J.R..R Tolkien, had a deep friendship. C.S. Lewis helped J.R.R. Tolkien get published, but Tolkien admitted he didn’t even like Lewis’ work, especially "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe," which he thought was terrible. Both were Christians and heavily influenced by Christian ideology. Tolkien says "Lord of the Rings" was a deeply Catholic book, while Lewis was more influenced by writers of the Renaissance who were fascinated by Pagan mythology. Listen as this radio story explores the two authors' friendship and motivations.

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Personal experience reflected in literature

ELA Middle School

Roald Dahl's Motivation for Writing

Fiction Biography Narrative Children's Literature Writing Process

Roald Dahl’s life was plagued by tragedy, and yet he wrote some of the most famous children’s books of our time, including "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and "James and the Giant Peach." This public radio story takes you into the life of Dahl, and what motivated his writing. Listen to learn more about his relationship with his wife and children, his special writing hut, and the legacy he left behind.

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The giver and memory

ELA Middle School

'The Giver' and Memory

Ethics Fiction Science Fiction Fantasy

"The Giver" is a story about a world without memories. A new movie version of the novel depicts this world as a sterile, emotionless place. In this story, public radio talks with author Lois Lowry and how she came up with the idea to write the book. The book asks: “would it be easier if we didn’t have memories?”

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Fighting injustice through literature

ELA Middle School

Fighting Injustice in 'The Book Thief'

Religion Fiction World War II war Historical Fiction Young Adult Literature Censorship

The novel "The Book Thief" is narrated by Death. He tells the story of a young German girl saving books from Nazi bonfires to read to the Jewish man hiding in her home. But the novel was actually written by author Markus Zusak. In this public radio story, he explains his choice of Death as the narrator, and the message he hopes teenage readers get from the novel.

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Jacklondon.sleddogs

Current Event December 9, 2013

Jack London’s Adventurous Life

Literature Biography Fiction

Author Jack London lived a life of adventure and travel. From a childhood of poverty in San Francisco to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897, London took his experiences and transformed them into compelling fiction. 'The Call of the Wild' and 'White Fang' made London the most popular American author of his generation. Literary critics now recognize the talent behind his clearly written adventure tales. Listen to learn more about the extraordinary life of this adventurous, hard working man.

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Marktwain.framedlife

Current Event December 8, 2013

Mark Twain’s Life Framed His Writing

Literature Biography Fiction

In 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' and 'Huckleberry Finn' author Mark Twain wrote about his childhood along the Mississippi River, but he did so as an adult living in Upstate New York. From his vagabond youth to forming a family and beginning to write novels, learn more about Mark Twain’s life and about how and where he wrote his greatest novels.

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