Making Dystopian Literature Relevant

  1. Watch National Geographic’s documentary about North Korea on YouTube and ask students to find similarities between your novel and the hermit kingdom.  They can also research current news and reporting coming from North Korea. Ask students to make a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the setting of your novel to the reality of North Korea.

  2. To tie your unit into social studies, ask students to 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 societal elements that are reminiscent to those found in dystopian literature. For example, ask students to research Mao’s China. You can also 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.

  3. 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 about why he was concerned with such issues? Dystopian Blog Post Pin

  4. Have students write “dystopian survival guides” for characters trapped within these worlds. This can be done as a creative writing assignment or even made in a PSA-style video or brochure.

  5. Have students 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 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!

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