I agree with #6. The language of this book is simple to understand and I think that one of the central issues of the book--Lily's struggle to forgive herself and to forgive her mother--will resonate with many Grade 10 students who typically during the teenage years seem to have issues with their own parents. In addition, it is of course of historical interest in terms of civil rights. It would also be fascinating to teach this book and get students to research more into the life of bees!
I am currently using this book in 8th grade honors english. I find it interesting that there are so many objections to the book, but I suppose if I were you I would check with the appropriate channels to make sure it is not censored from your curriculum. However, that said, it is an extremely popular and well known book and has many literary qualities that can be discussed in a classroom. There is a large amount of symbolism and character development that I've found useful in teaching those concepts. You can also have discussions on racism, civil rights, character growth, feminist issues, etc. I think you'll find this book a good addition to your curriculum.
Be careful, and have it read by some parents, too, before asking that it be adopted. There is some language in the book that could be objectionable. As for myself, I think it is a great book with many important themes. I have just had too many parents that object to some works of literature because of occasional bad words that their children have "never heard?".
Also, some students will watch the movie instead of reading.
There is no question that racism is a theme of the book, but there are many other themes as well. This is a "coming of age" novel, and the themes include family dysfunction, loss, spirituality, feminism, and loss. I don't think that teaching this book is "teaching racism," though, since one point of the book is to demonstrate how terrible racism is. Going with the flow in the classroom can be a good strategy when students are interested in exploring the many different themes of the story or are interested in branching off into a discussion of the historical period in which the novel takes place. Even a classroom exploration of the life of bees would be good. But when we read a novel in the classroom, going with the flow has its limits.
During my Freshman year (HS), the class was "taught" The Secret Life of Bees. I was in Honors English I. I feel that, along with the rest of the class, the novel was very enjoyable yet also helped us understand all the mishaps that are still "alive" today. I think that all high schoolers, even freshman, should be mature enough for the few "bad words" and racism in the novel.
the secret lifes of bees is a some what racial book and if you are not a big fan on teaching rasuim you cant teach it then. and the best way to teach is to just go with the flow