Monday, 2 February 2009

Teaching Sue Monk Kidd's "The Secret Life of Bees"

One of the things I find difficult when teaching English, is to find novels that my students really enjoy reading and discussing. Nick Hornby's About a Boy has been one of my favorites for several years now, but I have realised that many of the students just watch the film instead of actually read to novel. Last year, I therefore wanted to go for a new novel, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Personally, I find this story to be just beautiful, and I believe there are so many aspects that can be discussed when dealing with this novel. I was quite lucky when we were to read this novel. We had asked the students to chose between "my" novel and About a Boy, which my colleague Ingunn was to teach, and only a group of 15 students ended up reading The Secret Life. Talking about literature with only 15 students is so much easier than doing it in a class of 30, and even though not all of them were as active as I had wanted them to be, we had interesting discussions.

We had only set aside three weeks for working on this novel, and looking back I admit that was too little. It takes time getting the students to start reading, and they read a whole lot slower than we do. I was therefore not completely satisfied with the result, and I am not even sure all of the students finished the novel before the end of the year. Evaluating the novel, one of the conclusions was also that this novel appeals more to girls than to boys.

You will find my lesson plans and questions for discussion here:

Online resources (you will probably recognise the questions in my lesson plans...):


  1. This looks very nice! I only yesterday became aware of your blog, and having browsed throug some of your posts, I must say I'm impressed! I'll check in regularly to see what you're up to :-) For now, I'll borrow your plan for Monk Kidd and try it out on my class.

  2. I am happy to see that others find what I have been doing might work in other schools, too. I would love some response, hearing how it works with your students. Best of luck!

  3. I, too, have borrowed your lesson plans, although I'm not sure when I'll ever be able to use them. (I teach 6th- and 7th-grade special ed students.)

    I have to confess that I haven't read the book, but I saw the movie recently. Powerful--and deeply moving.