Title: Coming of Age
Grade: 7th
IRA/NCTE Standard #2: Students read a wide range of literature from many
periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g.
philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
Lesson Objective: Students will self-select a themed coming of age book,
maintain a reflective response journal, talk about the book’s theme with
classmates, and write a personal essay on the coming of age theme.
Note: This lesson will take several days to complete.
1. Introduce the topic – Ask students to think about their own adolescence.
Help them to think about the issues and concerns that plague them as
they turn from children to teenagers and young adults. Tell them that they
are moving into another phase of their lives— and this time is sometimes
called “coming of age.” Ask them what they think might be meant by this
term, and help them to connect to the ideas of responsibility and maturity.
Ask students if they have ever read any books that had main characters
who were “coming of age.” List them on the board.
2. Share examples – Share additional titles of books you have collected, or
know about, that deal with “coming of age” as a theme.
Some suggested titles are:
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Angelou
A Place Called Ugly by Avi
Tuck Everlasting by N. Babbitt
My Brother Sam is Dead by the Collier brothers
White Socks Only by Coleman
Walk Two Moons by Creech
The Watsons Go To Birmingham by Curtis
The Midwife’s Apprentice by Cushman
Monkey Island by Fox
Julie of the Wolves by Craighead George
To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee
A Wrinkle in Time by L’Engle
The Giver by Lowry
Gathering Blue by Lowry
Journey to Jo’Burg by Naidoo
Island of the Blue Dolphins by O’Dell
Hatchet by Paulsen
Maniac Magee by Spinelli
Let the Circle be Unbroken by Taylor
Between Madison and Palmetto by Woodson
3. Provide information – Tell students that you would like them to locate one
of these books, or another of their choosing that is grade and age
appropriate and has a coming of age theme (you may want to assemble
this text set ahead of time so that students can select a book easily). Tell
them how many days they will have to read the book and to outline the
expectations for the response journal, and tell them about the final paper.
Arrange for them to meet and discuss their book with classmates two or
three times during the book.
4. Guide practice – As students read, respond to, and discuss their individual
books, monitor and support them as necessary. Provide time for whole
class discussions to add ideas to the chart of what it means to “come of
age” and to share stories of the characters in the books.
5. Assess learning – You will likely want to assess the response journals and
the final papers. It’s appropriate to design and provide students with a
rubric for each of these assignments in advance. It is also a good idea to
monitor and evaluate the students’ conversations as they talk about the