This curriculum unit includes tested and proven materials for teaching The Bean Trees to high school students. We have developed it to offer other teachers an introduction to the work of Barbara Kingsolver, a modern writer born in Kentucky and now living in Tucson. Her novel shows a modern female protagonist who overcomes hardships and emerges victorious in the end. We have taught it to both freshmen and seniors with equal success. Our students like it for its current appeal and have made some interesting observations about it.
The Bean Trees is an easy novel to read, and you can assign it in one of several ways. Some teachers give it as homework to be finished by a specific date; others have students read it by chapters; still others read it out loud with less able groups. All of these approaches work. You will notice that the sample time line suggests a five-week unit. This is the format we often use with the novel, but we have done it in a variety of other sequences. We hope that these materials will make the teacher's job easier and more productive.
We would like to comment on the language in the novel. Compared to other contemporary novels, this book is relatively free of language that some readers find offensive. Our students have not found the language to be a problem for them, and they accept the few words or phrases as appropriate in the context of the story. We agree with that assessment and hope you and your students will view the book in the same way.
We like to end on one final comment: this unit is very flexible. We offer approaches based on firsthand experience, but we know that there are many other combinations that will work as well. We believe that all teachers adapt ideas to fit their own teaching styles, and this format, like those in all of our curriculum packets, is easily and successfully modified.