Two of my favorite things in life are literature and humor. I have often gravitated towards novels that not only inform and foster critical thinking, but also laughter. I, for one, would be lost without the ability to read, and to laugh. If humor can bridge cultural gaps and ease tension, certainly it can be a tool for learning. This is not to say that I plan to establish a strict curriculum of comical novels, but rather works that experiment with style, employ sarcasm, push boundaries, and take risks.
I could just as easily read Dostoevsky and be happy as a clam, but I think some much-needed humor to help lighten the trials and tribulations of high school life could engage young readers and hopefully get them excited about reading. I would like to explore the power of humor and sarcasm and how it allows for empathy and understanding in a way that perhaps other novels are unable to attain. This is certainly not to dismiss the classics, and the scores of contemporary authors that are making strides in our way of thinking, but I would like to incorporate a solid repertoire of humorous novels that place thought-provoking and relevant topics in a new light for young readers to tackle.
Literature is so vast and contains a myriad of pathways towards self-discovery and growth, and young adults should be exposed to novels that not only resonate and strike a chord with their own lives, but also encourage reflection and challenge misconceptions. Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is one novel that uses humor to explore cultural diversity, racial segregation, and wealth inequality through a medium that adolescents can relate to.
I want to dispel the notion that humorous novels are frivolous texts that should be kept in the confines of one’s home and not in the hallways of school. Alexie’s novel also crosses into a topic I also would like to address as banned books are often dismissed as a “disgrace,” and devoid of any real substance or quality. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was banned from some schools and it would be interesting to unravel the mindset behind banning books and how this impacts young readers.
Alexie’s brilliant use of wit and sarcasm allow for a whole new way of thinking surrounding stereotypes and how we perceive others. I plan to gather sources and ideas on how to use these rich and witty novels to approach some of the more challenging aspects of life.
A few leads…