Favorite Books/Films


Burch, Jennings Michael: They Cage the Animals at Night – fictionalized autobiography; he   recounts life in foster homes and orphanages

Edwards, Kim: The Memory Keeper’s Daughter – Dr. Henry tells his wife that one of her twins died during birth, but the girl was born with Down syndrome and the woman he asks to bring her to an institution decides to raise her as her own

Ellison, Ralph: Invisible Man  – a college-educated black man struggles to survive in a society that does not view him as a human being; he is invisible to the world

Hamill, Pete: Snow in August – about a Catholic boy’s friendship with a Jewish rabbi, which infuriates a gang

Irving, John: A Prayer for Owen Meany – Owen is a boy who is very different from his peers and who believes that he is God’s instrument

Keyes, Daniel: Flowers for Algernon – a mentally disabled man receives an experimental treatment; this first-person narrative traces his progress

Lee, Harper: To Kill a Mockingbird – set in Alabama; the narrator’s father is the lawyer for a black man who was accused of rape

Morrison, Toni: Beloved – a woman is haunted by her desperate actions for freedom from slavery

Morrison, Toni: The Bluest Eye – a young, poor black girl who thinks that she is ugly believes that blue eyes are the key to happiness

Morrison, Toni: Song of Solomon explores the quest for cultural identity as an African America

O’Brien, Tim: The Things They Carried – he recounts his experiences as a soldier during the Vietnam War

Picoult, Jodi: Nineteen Minutes – about a school shooting and all of the events that took place in a mere 19 minutes

Picoult, Jodi: The Pact – about a teen suicide pact

Picoult, Jodi: The Tenth Circle – about date rape, a father/daughter relationship, and references to Dante’s Inferno

Shakespeare, William: The Tragedy of Julius Caesar – Brutus has been tricked by Mark Antony into killing his friend, Julius Caesar, eventually realizing the his errors

Shakespeare, William: Othello – Iago, a terrible villain, convinces Othello (black man) that his wife (a white woman) is having an an affair and it tears Othello apart

Taylor, Mildred D: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry – illustrates African American life in rural Mississippi


Beah, Ismael: A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier – memoirs of a child soldier in Africa

Bryson, Bill: The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid – funny memoir about growing up in 1950s America

Bul Dau, John: God Grew Tired of Us – memoir of one of the Lost Boys from Sudan

Cain, Susan: Quiet –about the differences between introverts and extroverts

Cullen, Dave: Columbine  – a detailed look into the Columbine shooting

Dugard, Jaycee: A Stolen Life: A Memoir – memoir of her kidnapping in 199,  18-year captivity, and pregnancy

Gruwell, Erin: The Freedom Writers Diarydiary entries from urban students in California

Gruwell, Erin: Teach with Your Heart – teaching and motivating urban students

Ilibagiza, Immaculée: Left to Tell – Her memoir about surviving the Rwandan genocide by hiding in a bathroom with seven other women during the 100 day killing spree

Pelzer, Dave: A Child Called It – horrific child abuse & the American foster care system

-Sequels: The Lost Boy, A Man Named Dave, and The Privilege of Youth

Pistorius, Martin: Ghost Boy  –man who was in a coma, but aware of everything that was happening

Rusesabagina, Paul: An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography – story of the man who inspired the film Hotel Rwanda about his experiences during the Rwandan genocide and sheltering hundreds of Rwandans within the Hotel Mille Collines

Singer, Peter: The Life You Can Save – explains how we all have the ability to save a life

Smart, Elizabeth: My Story – her story about surviving her kidnapping from 2002

Sundquist, Josh: Just Don’t Falllighthearted autobiography about battling cancer to become a paralympic skier

Thompson-Cannino, Jennifer & Ronald Cotton: Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption – about the injustices surrounding the American justice system based on a rape case and an innocent man’s jail sentence

Ung, Loung: First They Killed My FatherCambodian genocide during the Pol Pot regime

Van Ryn, Cerak, Tabb: Mistaken Identity: Two Families, One Survivor, Unwavering Hopeafter a car crash, the bodies of two women are misidentified – one has survived and one has passed away

Walls, Jeanette: The Glass Castle – struggles growing up with an alcoholic parent, homeless, etc.


August Rush – A musically gifted orphan searches for his parents while a man named Wizard discovers his talent

A Beautiful Mind* – Based on the story of mathematician, John Nash, and his struggles with schizophrenia

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas An 8-year-old boy whose father is a Nazi soldier unknowingly befriends a Jewish boy who lives in a concentration camp

Catch Me if You Can* – Frank Abagnale was able to impersonate a pilot, doctor, and lawyer, before eventually being caught before turning 18

Concussion* – Dr. Bennet Omalu discovers chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which has led to the deaths of many football players, but the NFL doesn’t want the news release

Freedom Writers  – Erin Gruwell, a teacher in an urban school in California, tries to connect with and motivate her tough group of students

Hotel Rwanda* – A Hutu, Paul Rusesabagina, takes refugees in his hotel during the Rwandan genocide and must try to keep them safe after the UN leaves

I Am Sam  – Sam is a mentally-challenged father who is trying to raise his daughter, but the court is trying to decide whether she should be placed in foster care instead

John Q – A father takes a hospital hostage because he finds out that the insurance company will not cover the heart transplant surgery that his son needs in order to survive

Machine Gun Preacher* – Sam Childers, former biker, has a change of heart and decides to save children in East Africa by taking things into his own hands and fighting the enemy himself

Man on Firean ex-CIA agent accepts a job as a bodyguard in Mexico City, but she is kidnapped under his watch and he will do anything it takes to get her back

The Martian – an astronaut who was thought dead is accidentally left on Mars and must try to survive long enough to be rescued by NASA

The Pursuit of Happyness* – Chris Gardner, struggling salesman, loses his job and ends up homeless with his son, while determined to find a job as a stockbroker

Room – A woman was kidnapped and is locked in a room with her son, until they eventually escape and her son experiences the world for the first time

Seven Pounds – A man who killed multiple people due to texting while driving tries to find redemption

Shawshank Redemption – A man is sentenced to life in prison for two crimes he doesn’t believe he committed; the film highlights his experiences in the prison system

Silver Linings Playbook – A man must move back in with his parents after losing his job and he meets Tiffany, who offers to help him to get back with his wife if he will agree to enter a dance competition with her

Tears of the Sun – a man is assigned to lead soldiers into the Nigerian jungle to rescue a doctor, but she will not leave unless he helps her to rescue her patients who are being slaughtered by the rebels

The Theory of Everything* Cambridge student Stephen Hawking is diagnosed with a motor neuron disease and is given two years to live, but he defies the odds and makes groundbreaking discoveries

Words and Pictures – an art teacher and an English teacher are in a battle regarding which are more significant – words or pictures?

* = these films are based on true stories


The Coveabout dolphin capture and slaughter in Taiji, Japan

Blackfish – about Tilikum, SeaWorld’s infamous orca that has been responsible for numerous deaths and injuries, but it more importantly shows why killer whales should not be kept in captivity

Bowling for Columbine – about the Columbine shooting and gun violence in America

Food, Inc. – about food companies that monopolize food production in America and the many problems this creates

Invisible Children – about the children living in Africa who try to avoid being captured by the Joseph Kony and the LRA and forced to become child soldiers

The Invisible War – about the high incidences of rape within the American military system and the injustice that surrounds it