Jason Koon For this multi-text study I chose two books that deal with the political and social tensions of Northern Africa.
Naidoo, Beverly, The Other Side of Truth. London, England: Harper Collins. 2000. ISBN. 0064410021
Thoennes, Kristin. Nigeria (Countries of the World). Mankato, Minnesota: Capstone Press. 1999. ISBN 0736801545
Graf, Mike. Somalia (Countries of the World). Mankato Minnesota: Capstone Press. 1999. ISBN 0736811087
Internet Workshop: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Saro-Wiwa
I chose The Other Side of Truth because it portrays the plight of many people around the world in a way that is easy for young adolescents to understand and relate to. The book deals with experiences that most young adolescents can relate to such as loss, fear, and uncertainty. Through these common experiences, Naidoo opens the minds of her reader’s to a world that is far different from their own; a world of oppression and injustice. The fictional events of this novel are set in the context of real historical events; such as the execution of Ken Saro-Wiwa, and against the backdrop of the Abacha regime that controlled Nigeria in the mid-1990‘s. This gives the novel an authenticity that will open the mind’s of students to the realities of life in Northern Africa.
The Other Side of Truth is written on a fifth grade reading level, but the interest level is considered to be from 7th to 9th grade. This novel is the winner of numerous awards including the Carnegie Medal, and was named an ALA notable book, and an ALA best book for young adults.
The Non-fiction text for this study is Nigeria.It is part of The Countries of the World series. This book provides background information on Nigerian culture, history, religion, and politics. This book is written on a 4th grade reading level and will provide students with a real-life context in which to place Naidoo’s characters and story.
I chose these books for 7th grade because it connects with the Social Studies Standard course of study for seventh grade. Africa is one of the major themes in seventh grade social studies and this multi-text study will lend itself to numerous interdisciplinary connections between Language Arts and Social Studies. Also, I chose this study because it details the struggle of the two young refugees to find recognition and aid. The two main characters in the book use informational and argumentative communication to expose the evils of the regime from which they are fleeing and argue successfully to be allowed to stay in England.
The Other Side of Truth
Table of Contents
Section Book(s) Used Page #
1. Reading/Assignment Schedule for all books……………………………..2
2. Reading Log for all texts……………………………….............................3
3. Pre-reading activities for The Other Side of Truth………………………..4-6
Small groups, and whole group
4. Reading Guides for The Other Side of Truth ……………………………..7-14
5. A Day in the Life of…. For Nigeria………………………………..............15
6. Ken Saro-Wiwa Internet workshop to be used with the online text………16-17
7. Ken Saro-Wiwa Speech project………………………………....................18
This is a schedule that you should follow when reading The Other Side of Truth and the other texts that go along with it. This will help you break the book up, so that you can read a little bit each day rather than try to read it all in one or two nights.
Assignment(s) to be completed
Week One - Pre-reading Web-quest
- Read Chapters 1-9 (Chapters 1& 2 will be read aloud)
- Read Nigeria by Kristin Thoennes
- Study Guide #1
Week Two - Read Chapters 10-19 (Chapters 10 &11 will be read aloud)
- Study Guide #2
- A day in the life of
Week Three - Read Chapters 20-28 (Chapter 20 will be read aloud)
It is important to remember that whenever you are looking for information on the internet you must be careful to make sure that your sources are accurate and reliable. Link to http://www.infopeople.org/resources/bkmk/select.html and take a few minutes to review the checklist on evaluating internet sources.
Before beginning your internet search look at the title of the book. You can usually learn something about a book just by looking at its title. Develop three specific questions that you have about this book based on the title.
Next, in your small groups, use internet sources to investigate eight questions about Beverly Naidoo and her book, The Other Side of Truth. You will share your findings with the class. Some websites that contain helpful information are listed below. You may also use any additional websites that you find, but make sure they are reliable and accurate sources.
1. What are some of the major events of Beverly Naidoo’s life that may have had an effect on her as a writer?
2. What awards has the book won?
3. What is the setting of this book?
4. Describe the two main characters?
5. Write a brief summary of the plot?
6. What are some other books that Naidoo has written?
7. From what you know about Naidoo’s life, why do you think she has written this book?
8. Why is it important to know background information about a book and its author before reading it?
Reading Guide #1: Chapters 1-7
1. Why did the Nigerian Government assassinate Sade and Femi’s mother?
2. In chapter one Uncle Tunde and Folarin have a conversation about the truth and the articles that Folarin writes for his newspaper. Re-read what each says to the other. Who do you agree with more? Why?
3. How do the children get to England?
4. Do you think that Folarin did the right thing by sending his children to a foreign country by themselves? What would you have done in his situation?
5. In Chapter Seven Sade and Femi have a run in with the authorities. From what you know about them, how would their reaction to the authorities be different from yours?
List at least three character traits for each character. Note whether you learned this information through direct or indirect characterization and the page number where you found this information.
Reading Guide #2: Chapters 8-19 1. What events in Chapters 9-12 lead the children to be taken into police custody? How do they come to meet Mama Appiah?
2. What effect do Sade and Femi’s experiences growing up in Nigeria have on the way that they view the police?
3. What does Sade think of Iyawo Jenny? Why does Sade not respond truthfully to Iyawo Jenny’s questions?
4. How does Femi deal with the traumatic events that he has experienced? What effect doe this have on Sade?
5. Through their traumatic experiences Sade and Femi have begun to encounter the other side of truth. What do you think is Naidoo’s purpose is in writing a book about the negative effects of telling the truth on these children?
List at least three character traits for each character. Give a page number where you found clue about this character trait. Tell whether you learned this information through direct or indirect characterization
Reading Guide #3 Chapters 20-28 1. What are some of the differences that Sade notices between her old school in Nigeria and her new school in London?
2. How do Marcia and the other girls react to Sade? How does Miriam treat Sade?
Character Study: Motivation
Fill in the chart with possible motivations for the character’s behavior
Refusing to talk to Sade
Treating Sade badly
Stealing from Miriam’s family’s store
Leaving Sade to be cornered by Marcia
Telling Sade her story of escape from Somalia
3. By this point, many different themes are developing. Complete the chart to show how the book addresses the following themes and what events and/or characters in the story help to develop these themes?
What does the book say
Which events or characters address this theme
abuse of power
Telling the truth
4. Compare and Contrast Sade and Miriam? How are they alike, how are they different?
Reading Guide #4: Chapters 29-42 1. Earlier in the novel, Naidoo helps us to understand why the children lied about who they were and why they had come to England, but now we see the
Negative effects of their lies. What negative effects did their lies have?
2. How does Folarin end up in a British prison? What do Sade and Femi do to try to get their father out of this prison?
3. Through chapter 28, the truth has been responsible for many of the negative things that have happened to Sade, Femi, and Folarin. In the final chapters how does the truth save them?
4. Throughout the course of this book, the main characters undergo major changes. In your small groups complete the chart using the character traits from Study Guide #1, then list at least three new character traits that each character has developed during the course of the novel.
Traits from Study Guide #1
New Character Traits
5. Although the events of this story are fictional, similar events regularly happen around the globe. Why do you think events like this often go unreported? What effects might the truth have, if it were reported about real life events, the way it was reported about the Solaja family in the story?
A Day in the Life of…
The book Nigeria by Kristin Thoennes gives us some insight into Sade and Femi’s lives in Nigeria. After reading this book, you are going to write a first person account of a young person growing up in Nigeria. Use the following questions to help you organize your ideas before you write. You may want to use the book Nigeria (Cultures of the World) by Patricia Levy for more information.
My Life in Nigeria
What section of Nigeria do I live in?__________________________________________
To what people group do I belong?___________________________________________
What languages do I speak?_________________________________________________
What jobs do my parents have?______________________________________________
Although The Other Side of Truth is fiction, it makes reference to a few real life events and people. One of these is the execution of Nigerian journalist and author Ken Saro-Wiwa. In your small groups, access http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Saro-Wiwa and answer the following questions based on your reading of this article.
1. Who was Saro-Wiwa speaking out for? What was he speaking out against?
2. According to the Nigerian government, what was the official reason for his execution?
3. Why do you think Saro-Wiwa was really executed?
4. Think about the novel The Other Side of Truth, Folarin Solaja was faced with a difficult decision after the death of Saro-Wiwa. He had to decide between writing the truth and protecting his family. Fill out the chart with reasons for and against speaking out against the government.
Reasons for speaking out
Reasons for staying quiet
What would you have done it you were in Folarin’s position? Why?
Ken Sarro-Wiwa Speech Project
The following assignment is to be completed in your small groups. Each group will choose a discussion leader, a research coordinator, a secretary, and a speaker.
Discussion leader The discussion leader will direct the group meetings. He/she will make sure the meetings are orderly.
Research Coordinator The research coordinator will oversee any research and fact checking that needs to be done to complete this assignment.
Secretary The Secretary will keep a record of the ideas that are discussed and write/type the final copy of the speech.
Speaker The Speaker will contribute ideas to the group and be responsible for delivering the speech to the class.
All group members are expected to participate in the research, discussions, and writing of the speech, as well as contribute ideas and insights whenever possible!!
Imagine that it is October 1995 and you are the United States ambassador to the United Nations. Ken Saro-Wiwa is still being held prisoner by the Nigerian government, and you have the opportunity to deliver a speech to the Nigerian government on the subject of Saro-Wiwa’s arrest and pending execution. Write a persuasive speech arguing for the release of Ken Saro-Wiwa. Make sure to give specific reasons why he should be released.
Letters to the Editor/ Letters to your congressman This is your opportunity to take what you have learned and apply it in the real world. By reading The Other Side of Truth, your eyes have hopefully been opened, as mine were, to the injustice and oppression that is happening all over the world. Unfortunately, most Americans have not had an experience like you have hopefully had during this study. You are going to have an opportunity to help them open their eyes. You have a choice of two assignments.
1. Write a letter to the editor about your experience reading The Other Side of Truth, non-fiction materials and the information about Ken Saro-Wiwa. Give persuasive reasons why Americans should be aware, and work to bring an end to injustice and oppression around the world. Include suggestions about what individuals can do to help. You may want to use examples from the book.
2. Write a letter to your congressman about your experience reading The Other Sideof Truth and the materials about Ken Saro-Wiwa. Give persuasive reasons why the United States government should act to bring an end to injustice and oppression around the world.
These letters should be in business letter format, so that they can be sent to our congressman or the editor of our local newspaper!!
Reference List A Month and a Day: A Detention Diaryby: Ken Saro-Wiwa and William Boyd; Penguin, 1996. ISBN 0140259147. A Month and a Day is the true account of Ken Saro-Wiwa’s detention experience in a Nigerian prison. Naidoo’s book is heavily influenced by Saro-Wiwa’s story.
Songs in a Time of War by: Ken Saro-Wiwa; Passeggiata, 1993. ISBN 9994501623. This is a book of poetry written by Saro-Wiwa.
Sozaboy by: Ken Saro-Wiwa; Longman(African Writers Series), 1995 ISBN 0582236991. Sozaboy is a novel written for young adolescents about a young man who signs up for the Nigerian Military and fights in the Biafran War. It is partly based on his own personal experiences.
Journey to Jo’burg by: Beverly Naidoo; Collins Educational, 1996. ISBN 0006726933. This is one of Naidoo’s first and most acclaimed books. Many of the same themes that are addressed in The Other Side of Truthare also present in this work.
Out of Bounds by: Beverly Naidoo; Puffin, 2001. ISBN 0141309695. This is a collection of short stories by Naidoo that deals with the oppression and injustice under the Apartheid system of South Africa.
Esparanza Risingby: Pam Munoz Ryan; Blue Sky Press, 2002. ISBN 043910242x. Although set in a very different context than The Other Side of Truth, Esparanza Rising deals with many of the same themes. Especially the idea of being forced to leave ones homeland and becoming a refugee.
Coming to Englandby: Florella Benjamin, Illustrated by Michael Frith; Puffin, 1995
ISBN 0140380817. Based on Benjamin’s real life experience of moving from Trinidad to England, this book deals with adjusting to life in a new country and culture.
Nigeria (Cultures of the World) by: Patricia Levy; Benchmark Books, 1996.
ISBN 1854355740. This book is a much more in depth look at the culture of Nigeria. It goes into much more detail about the life that Sade and Femi may have had in Nigeria before being forced to leave.
The Other Side of Truth is an eye-opening book to much of the injustice and oppression that exists around the world, as well as to issues dealing with refugees, immigration, and racism. These additional materials are all materials that will help further your study in any or all of these areas. All of these references deal in some way with some of the themes or events of the book. I have provided this list and allowed for self-selection so that all students can pursue the themes and elements of this study that were of particular interest to them.