I have read Lullabies for Little Criminals for the last 5 years with my class and they absolutely love it. While considered a "coming of age" novel, it is very unique, as it deals with some heavy topics such as the loss of innocence, life in a group home, drug addiction, prostitution, abandonment, etc. This is a great novel for high school level and is particularly poignant if working with "at risk" students. The novel takes place in Montreal, Quebec.
About Lullabies for Little Criminals (Review from Quills and Quire):
O’Neill’s debut novel is narrated by Baby, the 13-year-old daughter of single father and heroin addict Jules. Throughout her young life, Baby is shuttled between various run-down Montreal apartments and foster homes, and spends a month in juvie for hanging out with a pimp in the park. Baby’s story, episodic in form, unfurls in the arbitrary, unscripted manner of “real life,” with none of the archetypal, cut-and-dried bad guys you might expect from an account so steeped in street-kid tragedy. Jules can be a neglectful creep, and Alphonse, Baby’s abusive boyfriend, has his genuinely sympathetic (and pathetic) moments as a character.
About the Unit Plan:
Contract - At the beginning of the unit plan you will find a student contract. I always have students sign the contract, promising not to read ahead.
Read and React – These are quick reports on the novel which kids can work on alone, as opposed to the other pages, which has them working more as a group. Students complete these when they are assigned a chapter reading. This allows me to verify they are up to date with the reading and assess their level of comprehension.
Homework Assignments: There are also a few homework assignments, typically things that compliment the Read and React sections. They are generally questions that deal with vocabulary words and comprehension.
Short Answer Questions – There are list of questions specifically corresponding to each chapter.
Final Assignment – A one page writing assignment. Students learn about the author’s life and are asked to reflect on whether this changes their view of the book.
Test – A test comprised of 5 larger thematic questions. Students are to write a 1 page response to each question (they choose 4 out of 5).
Comprehensive and Complete answers to all the sections.
All sections have point values assigned - making for easy corrections