The Hate U Give, A Teaching Rationale


Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give. New York, Balzer and Bray, 2017.

Intended Audience

  • 9th & 10th Grade English Classrooms
  • Small-group work
  • This book is
    • A current, recently published book responding to current events
    • A text by an African American author
    • Based on true stories about the experiences of African American youth

A Brief Summary of the Work

Starr Carter is a high school student who lives in an underprivileged neighbored in a large city. She is the only witness when her friend Kahlil is shot by a police officer. The story follows Starr’s experiences from just before the murder of her friend through the trial that is conducted. Her story shows the realities of discrimination, police brutality, racism, victim blaming, and misreporting that happens in our society today.

Relationship to the Program

This novel will be a key part challenging our students to make connections between argumentative writing practices, current events, and each student’s personal drive for social justice. I will teach this book as part of a broader social justice unit that will use a variety of activities and texts. As we learn to write arguments, we will analyze arguments presented by media outlets in their reporting of accurate facts or misreporting to sway public opinion. We will read other social justice themed books and challenge students to think critically about their experiences through discussion of these texts. The students will be challenged to apply these critical thinking strategies to real world examples they come across of the internet and in the news today.

Impact of the Book

This book will challenge all student readers in one aspect or another. Students who identify with the minority figures in the book could be called to speak more loudly and stand up for what they believe in: this book may push young people to seek avenues for social justice. Students who have never been challenged to think critically about social prejudice, racism, and horrifying current events such as police murders of African American citizens will be woken up to a new reality. This book is an opportunity for students to utilize strategies they learn in the English classroom to think critically about real life current events that affect their life.

Potential Problems

This work represents a minority community and may not be well received by non-diverse communities due to prejudice. This book also mentions gun violence and questions the authority and integrity of police officers, which is a current and controversial subject. If the parents, for example, are proponents of the “All Lives Matter” counter attack to the Black Lives Matter movement, this book will not be well received. In addition, this book has some sexual references, some inappropriate language, and quite a bit of violence, which some families may be upset about even in high school.

Professional Book Reviews

  • Spisak, A. (n.d.). The Hate U Give/Flicker and Mist. The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books., 70(7).
  • Marfo, Amma. “The Hate U Give and Hard Conversations.” Women in Higher Education (10608303), vol. 26, no. 10, Oct. 2017, p. 18. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1002/whe.20496.
  • Sharma, Michelle D. Agency for the Child in Esperanza Rising and the Hate U Give: A Call to Young Non-Black Readers, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2018.

Alternate Options for Student Readers

  • Esperanza Rising by Pam Munos Ryan
  • Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • March: Book One by John Lewis and Andre Aydin
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • Tangerine by Edward Bloor
  • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
  • All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
  • Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
  • The Smell of Other People’s Houses by Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock

Published by


Hi. I play piano. I write.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s