Autobioagraphy Touches the Heart of Young Readers
As a reading instructor of young adults, I often find book selection a difficult task. When introducing a new book, many students can become overwhelmed with the idea of starting, much less completing the typical (200+pg.) paperback book. After much trial and error in my book search, I really hit the nail on the head...by making the wise choice in purchasing, "Autobiography of My Dead Brother."
After passing out the books to my students, they were immediately intrigued by the artistic illustrations on the cover and throughout the text pages. The story begins with community church members gathering together as a family, mourning the tragic and senseless loss of a young victim ; an all too familiar scene which depicts the sadness and despair involving the widespread criminal violence that often plagues our communities.
Readers immediatley connect with this story, as they can relate to each character 's personality, circumstances, and their life choices. Throughout the story, reader's relate the setting and characters to their own life experiences. While a fictional story, the characters, setting, and experiences often involve obstacles many young adults often struggle with (like non-fiction) in their daily lives. As the characters in this story emerge through their personal reflection and choices, the reader becomes inspired by the strength, faith, and power of personal choice.
It's a challenging task to bring reader's to a common place, in which young adult characters face real obstacles. It's even more challenging to send the message that despite many of these obstacles involving gangs, crime, peeer pressure, etc.... each character (just as real young adults) has an opportuniy to reach out and utilize their family, community church, and positive community role models to lead them on the right path. Ultimately, this story leaves the reader feeling the power of choice and individual freedom every young adult has within themselves.
Walter Dean Myers faced and met a difficult challenge in writing a book that encourages students to read and reflect on their own lives. A powerful voice in young adult literature!!!