More Gifts of the Magi?
June 21, 2010 2:32 PM   Subscribe

My snarky teens could use some inspiration, ideally from literature. I'm a middle school teacher who works with students with various disabilities (physical, emotional, etc.) and beginning next year, we'll be doing a morning "read aloud" for the kids.

I'm open to all suggestions for stories that can be read aloud in less than 10 minutes, but ideally I would love to have more inspirational tales of people who used their inner resources to overcome obstacles, people who helped others. In general, I'm looking for stories that celebrate the best in people and will offer some daily affirmation (but nothing cheesy, religious or even "chicken Soup for the Soul"-ish.

I'm also open to ANY suggestion of literature that you think will hold their attention (keep in mind...these are snarky teens but they're good kids).
posted by dzaz to Education (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Wow, I would suggest Flannery O'Connor, but that's sort of the opposite of what you are looking for. I do, however, believe that her stories ("The stranger" comes to mind) do have alot to teach about the human condition in one way or another. If for nothing else, it'll keep their attention.
posted by TheBones at 2:36 PM on June 21, 2010

Sorry, "A good man is hard to find." "The stranger" is, of course, Camus.
posted by TheBones at 2:37 PM on June 21, 2010

It's a book rather than a short story, but you might find that The Short Bus by Jonathan Mooney suits your need.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 3:58 PM on June 21, 2010

Why from literature?

My brother became quadriplegic after a swimming accident in 1993. Today, it's just amazing to watch him.

Inspiration is great as far as it goes. But don't discount the real heroes living right in your own community.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:22 PM on June 21, 2010

True, it can be from anywhere! Thanks for that reminder!
posted by dzaz at 5:30 PM on June 21, 2010

Can't think of a short story, but what about biographies of famous people with disabilities? Seeing real-lfe examples of people flourishing despite their struggles can be incredibly inspirational in a non-cheesy way.
posted by deinemutti at 6:50 PM on June 21, 2010

These aren't exactly what you're looking for but...:

You'd have to screen the clips carefully for school-appropriateness but comedian Josh Blue has cerebral palsy and does a good bit about that during his shows.

You might also look at books written by adults with disabilities about the coping they've used in their own lives. I've found (but not read) a great selection on Amazon.

Murderball (quad rugby) is a great movie but, again, has some inappropriate bits.

posted by ticketmaster10 at 9:57 PM on June 21, 2010

It sounds from your last comment that you might be open to non-literature/non-written stuff, so if that is the case you could play some snippets from the BBC disability talkshow Ouch [recently featured here on Metafilter]. They've had some great interviews with musicians, artists, actors, athletes, etc. who have disabilities. It's got pretty snarky British humour that can be a bit adult sometimes, so you would want to preview before playing it for your kids. However, I think if you were selective, it could work well.

You can download full past episodes in podcast form (here or through iTunes), or you can find excerpted audio interviews in this list.

Some good interviews featuring teens/young people (I don't remember how kid-friendly they are, but the BBC bleeps out profanity, which is particularly relevant for the musician with Tourette's):

Zillwood , a teenaged rapper with Tourette's

RJ Mitte, a teen actor with cerebral palsy (he's on the TV show Breaking Bad)

Rocco Fiorentino, a 14-year-old jazz singer who is blind

Kelly-Marie Stewart, a young British soap actress who uses a wheelchair
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:31 PM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Actually, in The Short Bus, there are a lot of interesting anecdotes that could be edited down for bite-size portions. There's a YA anthology out there called Owning It, but I'm not sure if it will really be inspirational.

One thing that I've seen some teachers work with is I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs By Teens Famous and Obscure. There's a huge variety of teeny tiny sentence bios, and it makes a great launching pad for an approachable class project where kids compose their own six-word memoirs for themselves or characters or famous folks.

Met online; love before first sight.

Hair's pink to piss you off.

I fulfilled my awkwardness quota today.

I'm seventeen, engaged, and not pregnant.

My mom had my boyfriend deported.

Late for school every single day.

According to Facebook, we broke up.

posted by redsparkler at 9:35 AM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

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