Coretta Scott King Award Books: Using Great Literature with Children and Young Adults

By Claire Gatrell Stephens | Go to book overview

Chapter 8
I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This
Jacqueline Woodson1995 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award
About the Story
This is the story of 12-year-old Marie, a popular middle-class student from Chauncey, Ohio. Marie's world changes when she meets Lena. They become friends almost immediately, in spite of the fact that Lena is a poor white girl who does not fit in. Both girls have lost their mothers, and they overcome prejudice to form a strong, lasting bond. Lena ultimately confides a disturbing secret, telling Marie that she is being sexually abused by her father. Marie is torn between telling someone and keeping her promise to Lena by not revealing what she knows. It is a difficult question: Which will help Lena more—keeping her secret or breaking her promise?
Objectives
After reading I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, the student should be able to:
1. Identify the story's events, characters, and themes.
2. Identify, define, and explain the literary elements of foreshadowing and symbolism, as found in the story.

Notes to the Teacher

There are strong themes running through this work that open the possibility for serious classroom discussion and activities centered around family problems, racial prejudice, class prejudice, friendship, peer pressure, grieving, and abuse. Students will find interesting aspects of the story in the characters, their relationships, and the developing plot. You can also use it to teach such literary elements as symbolism and irony, among others. Finally, you can connect many other curriculum areas to a study of this book. With I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, Jacqueline Woodson succeeds admirably in her goal to focus on those among us who are different. In doing so, she has created two strong, memorable female characters faced with some of the worst that life has to offer. Students reading this book will find it stimulating and memorable; with guidance and instruction, reading it will help them to become more socially aware and sensitive to the lives of others.

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