Dystopian literature is a staple in most ELA classrooms. Here are some ideas for teaching it and making it more relevant:
- Watch National Geographic’s documentary about North Korea on YouTube and ask students to find similarities between your novel and the “hermit kingdom.” Also, they can research current news and reporting coming from North Korea. Finally, ask students to make a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the setting of your novel to North Korea.
- To tie your unit into social studies, ask students can research other countries and governments that share similarities to things depicted in dystopian literature. Not all countries will be as obvious as North Korea, but some countries still have similarities to dystopian lit.
- For example, ask students to research Mao’s China. Also, you can show this clip from John Green’s popular series “Crash Course” on the History of China. The communist revolution section starts at 5:34. Forms of government will play a large role in these discussions.
- Analyze the biographies of authors of dystopian literature and search for inspirations that drove the writing. Why did George Orwell write 1984? Can you find clues from his biography and the times in which he lived?
- Students can write “dystopian survival guides” for characters trapped within these worlds. This can be done as a creative writing assignment. It could also make for a fun PSA-style video or brochure assignment.
- Students can research/debate the modern-day realities that have corresponding scenes in dystopian literature. For example, in Ready Player One, characters are plugged into virtual reality most of the time. They do this to escape the harsh outside world. VR goggles are becoming more popular in our world…discuss. More examples of topics for debate: government surveillance, addiction to technology, censorship, democracy, socialism, propaganda, and so many more.
Comment to tell me how you make dystopian literature relevant for your students. And, for more ideas and printable resources for teaching ANY dystopian novel, click here!