Literature-N-Living Class on Tunes for Bears to Dance To
John Richter's letter to Robert Cormier
John Richter, the Youthful Offender Program Coordinator at the Orange County Corrections Department in Florida, writes to Robert Cormier about his Literature-N-Living class. He describes the class and the work students do including discussion, essay writing, and reading comprehension quizzes.
Richter also describes the value of We All Fall Down to this population's need to understand the victim's perspective. He states the students also learned about trust, thoughtful communication, perseverance, and leadership. Leadership was particularly important to Richter because many of the inmates were incarcerated because they are followers that bend to peer pressure.
The class also read Tunes for Bears to Dance To, and in their study, they focused on racism, prejudice, false testimony, and forgiveness. Richter states the book helped inmates think about how they will be perceived upon release and how they will have to present themselves in the face of prejudice.
In this article, "Novel finding: Reading literary fiction improves empathy" published in Scientific American, October 4, 2013, by Julianne Chiaet, explores the link between one's literary environment -- specifically, the fiction one reads, and how one subsequently relates to, views, understands, or sympathizes with others.