Non-violent booksHELP!!! I teach remedial English and one of my kids with an Individualized Education Plan was just pulled out because The Outsiders was too violent (Johnny shooting the Soc). This...

Non-violent books

HELP!!! I teach remedial English and one of my kids with an Individualized Education Plan was just pulled out because The Outsiders was too violent (Johnny shooting the Soc). This kid, because of his personal history, cannot read ANYTHING with ANY type of violence (fighting, suicide, swords, guns, etc) or anything that deals with or evokes memories of past (including positive memories). I am not a SPED teacher so I dont have the knowledge of his triggers. Obviously my books for the rest of this year - Romeo and Juliet, and Of Mice and Men would be out, but so are the books for the next three years with this kid.

If yall could help out and suggest some non-violent books that I could have him independently study, that would be great. I already have our school librarian and the other teachers working on it but we are just at a loss at this point. I have Tuesdays with Morrie in place right now, and The Last Lecture on deck, but after that I am left high and dry.

Expert Answers
Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I am afraid I have no good ideas about books. Even Charlotte's Web is violent. But I wonder if you are permitted to consider non-fiction, short stories, poetry, or plays for this student. This would allow you to have a great field to choose from. For example, I would think that most of Malcolm Gladwell is non-violent, as is much poetry. Aren't there some Updike or Fitzgerald stories that are non-violent? I will be looking forward to seeing what some suggestions are, hoping, of course, never to be in your position!
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wow!  That is going to be a challenge.  Much of the high school curriculum is violent.  An alternative to Romeo and Juliet might be A Midsummer Night's Dream.  It is not violent.  To replace Of Mice and Men I would suggest The Giver.  There is no real violence, just euthenasia.  Perhaps that won't count?  All of Steinbeck's books are violent.  You might also consider Animal Farm, because there are no humans so the violence may not matter.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interesting dilemma you have there! What about some short stories that don't contain violence between humans but nonetheless have obvious points of conflict? You might want to think about "Two Kinds" by Amy Tan or "By the Waters of Babylon" by Benet. And would a short novel like Silas Marner by George Eliot work? Just a few ideas - but your problem does raise a really interesting issue about the high number of texts we use as teachers that feature violence!

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A couple of authors I find work well with young boys are Sherman Alexie and Chris Crutcher. You might do a search on their names and read some summaries of their work to ensure there are not violent situations. For the most part, in Crutcher's work I see boyhood pranks, harmless and funny ones. Sherman Alexie is a satirical writer about Indian Reservation life and he just came out with a new book too that might be a good fit. Good luck.

anthonda49 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hatchet is a story of survival in the wilderness. The only violence is between man and nature. That way the student would see that violence happens in natural life, too, and must be dealt with at many different levels. I'm sure a survival story will be macho enough to not offend his reading tastes yet have enough action and adventure to keep him interested. Many of Gary Paulson's books are in a similar vein.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If you want non-violence that still has adventure, what about Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped or H. Rider Haggard's She or, also Haggard, Cleopatra. There are bits in each that might once have been considered violent, but I suspect would just be called "adventure" now--considering the texts that are commonly read in classes currently. Or perhaps Fanny Burney's Evelina?

linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You said it's remedial English, so I'm assuming you'll be happy just to have him read. So why not try biographies? Find out which celebrities or athletes he's interested in and see if there are any biographies about them. Also, consider The Old Man and the Sea and The House on Mango Street. You could also try putting together a bunch of short stories for him.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The House on Mango Street is a collection of short stories that are pretty tame.  You didn't mention what his reading level was, but that book is pretty simple reading, but with some good themes.  You could also then select just stories that fit your current teaching unit or that have the least suggestion of violence.

jdslinky eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The House on Mango Street would probably be a safe choice because of the content matter; furthermore, he may enjoy the vignette-style writing. It seems like you could use a bit more guidance on his triggers, as you know, so much of literature is aimed at producing a reaction! Good luck-I hope this works out for you.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tuck Everlasting is a good choice if he can handle magical/time warp kind of books.  Sounds like this guy is doomed to read books that don't make him think or consider his place in the world.  Ask your librarian or your SPED teachers for some good alternatives.  You might check out the sports books series.  Good Luck!

Scott Locklear eNotes educator| Certified Educator

sorry i forgot to add jonathan livingston segal. i'm sorry the spelling may not be correct!

Nice suggestion! Jonathan Livingston Seagull had slipped my mind.

jdslinky eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Careful with The House on Mango Street. Ezperanza is sexually assaulted in Part XIV.

Good point! I had forgotten about Esperanza's experience.

cybil eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Life is So Good by George Dawson is the inspiring story of a black man who didn't learn to read until he was in his 90s. We use it with our eighth graders.

Scott Locklear eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Careful with The House on Mango Street. Ezperanza is sexually assaulted in Part XIV.

swimma-logan | Student

We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg is a beautiful story, as is James McBrides The Colour of Water. They teach tolerance and acceptance, and are just touching. I'm a 16 year old boy and I enjoyed them, mind you, I'm in AP Lang. Comp., and I'm gay...try Obama's Dreams From My Father, it's not political, and is actually a good story

zigsmom95 | Student

I disagree with Of Mice and Men being a good choice.  It does have vilence in it.  Romeo and Juliet may be out, but look at some of Shakespear's comedies - A Midsummer's Night Dream is fun.  The Importance of Being Earnest (Moliere) is another good choice.  Have you looked at A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or To Kill a Mockingbird?  Some biographies would be good as well.  I think this needs to be discussed with his team as.  Good luck.

coachn72 | Student

While I can think of very few novels that would fit your needs, I do concur with the Tuesdays with Morrie suggestions. Rocket Boys might also be an alternative.

When you get to The Grapes of Wrath, you could have him read several stories in Steinbeck's The Long Valley. Pride and Prejudice would also fit the bill if you can get a guy interested in it.

Collections of essays could also be a great resource for you. Essays of E.B. White is pretty good. There are any number of current writers whose writings have been gathered in The Best American Essays series. The brevity of the reading selections may help him if he struggles with the reading level.

Finally, O'Henry short stories may provide some of the conflict without the violence.

Thanks for taking the time and effort to help this young man out. Keep up the good work!

jannats-singh | Student

sorry i forgot to add jonathan livingston segal. i'm sorry the spelling may not be correct!

jannats-singh | Student

to sir,with love.i'm sure he'll love it.

beautifulsorta | Student

I have to say Tuesdays with Morrie is a great choice; it's got great life lessons in it, no violence, and it really does "speak" to the kids. I was reluctant to teach it to 11th-graders (especially the boys), but they really did like it - and they "got" it.

There is also a published book on "The Last Lecture," which I haven't read, but I'm sure it would be great along those same lines. Fast Food Nation is probably a pretty good choice, too - along the same lines as Nickled and Dimed.

cherylpresnall | Student

I teach 12th graders and am about to experiment with "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich. Many of my students don't understand the importance of education and its relationship to future success. My hope is to use this book, written by an author who was actually "there", and show them real-life examples of how minimum-wage jobs are insufficient to support an individual, much less a family.

epollock | Student

Any short story collection will have a sufficient amount that deal with a character's struggles without any violence. A good catalog should be enough either through Longman or Holt or McDougell.

epollock | Student

I would try Tuesdays with Morrie. It is a great book to start people discussing and having conversations on how best to live one's life. You could also find many short stories that do not have any violence in them. A good anthology will suffice.