Day in the Life: Good Lit Circle Book?

warriorsheartOn Tuesday while I was helping a colleague set up for a Book Fair at her middle school, some ELA teachers were browsing and eyeing some titles thinking they might work as good literature circle books. While they were divvying up books to read over the next few days, I was asked if I would like to join in and read The Warrior’s Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage by Eric Greitens. This is the young adult adaptation of Greiten’s adult memoir The Heart and the Fist: The Education of a Humanitarian, the Making of a Navy SEAL.

Below is a “transcript” of the email I sent to respond to the questions, “Would it make a good literature circle book?”, “Would it spark enough discussion points?”, and “What grade level(s) might it be best for?”

Hi, ladies 🙂

Feel free to pass this along to anyone else making decisions about lit circle titles.

I read The Warrior’s Heart: Becoming a Man of Compassion and Courage by Eric Greitens.

  • It is a memoir, not only of his Navy Seal training, but also of humanitarian work he did around the world before making the choice to become a soldier.
  • I am not sure of the Lexile, but it would be a fairly easy read for our average students, I would say. I would recommend giving students some accompanying informational text (articles, etc.) that would give simple explanations of some of the conflicts of places he visited (Croatia, Rwanda, Bolivia) so that they would bring some background knowledge to the text.
  • This book is easily “chunked” by where he was in the world and what he was doing.
  • In addition, at the beginning of the book he sets out that he loved choose-your-own-adventure books as a kid, and several times between chapters in the book, he sets up a scenario where he addresses the reader as “you,” gives a real-world situation, and then asks “What would you do?” What an excellent writing prompt! And these scenarios are ones that he or another faced, so you find out what he did when you read further.
  • In the back matter, he challenges students to visit his website and download a Mission Planning Guide to help them figure out what they can do to make a difference in the world. There are also links to his organization and others.
  • I recommend this mostly for 8th grade because there is mention (although certainly not super-graphic description) of genocide, severe injury or death of people, including children, rape, starvation, etc. This is always to explain how people need help and what conditions they have to live in. Also, when the soldiers speak, there is very infrequently “f—k”(used like that, not spelled out completely). It is definitely appropriate for context and, again, very infrequent—maybe two or three times?  I didn’t count.

Over all, I think this book would not only give students A LOT to talk about, but would also inspire them.

Let me know of you have any more ?????

I am sending it back, but only because I already have one at CJ, and EJ’s Book Fair is in two weeks 😉



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