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Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher is a phenomenal, coming of age book about what it means to be human. Through a rich cast of characters who have been through some very trying times, Crutcher illustrates that everyone has a story to tell.
This is a novel I have used with English 9 and English 9 Honors. At the honors level, students spend the time they read the novel tracking the development of one character in preparation for composing an in-depth character analysis.
To prepare them for the idea that everyone has a story to tell as well as introduce them to the characters, they take part in this introductory activity I have called "The Buddy System". Students are given very basic information about a group of people and are asked to group them together based only on the information they have. In the end, most students pair characters who would never actually be friends and this provides interesting discussion on the fact that we need to revisit our judgments and be willing to open our minds to what is beyond the surface because, Everyone has a story to tell.
If you are interested in seeing more of this unit, send me an email or write a review!