Monday, January 25, 2016

Between Me and the World by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Is this relatively small, relatively short book going to appeal to Passages’ students?

Addressed to Coates' fifteen-year old son, which Tressie McMillam Cottom discusses as a literary device, this book is alternatingly approachable and impenetrable for less sophisticated readers thanks to its uneven, complex structure.  Teens will be interested in the man who talks about “people who think they are white” and takes on America’s history of brutality toward African Americans, but they’ll lose interest during long passages about Coates’ time at an elite historically black college and they’ll question a man who says he knows the streets, but whose father was a university librarian.  Moreover, for students who have not known their fathers, the whole conceit of a man addressing his son in a professorial tone may be alienating.  

This book definitely qualifies as a non-fiction text class read and a solid addition to a classroom library, but you will have to have read and process it first yourself, and that will take longer than the narrowness of the spine might intimate.  I highly recommend this book to educators for personal independent reading.  I expect you will find the sections that will speak most clearly to the students you work with, you’ll excerpt them, and then you can facilitate the meaningful conversations many are aching to have around Coates’ discoveries and philosophies that speak most profoundly to our learners. --Jessica Fenster-Sparber

An excerpt of the text may be found here.
Discussion questions by Alexis Elafros at the University of Central Florida can be found here.

Coates, Ta-Nehisi.  Between the World and Me.  New York: Random House, 2015. Print.

No comments: