I know that Carnival is not a text for 6th graders. This is a mature look at a young woman in her late teens. It’s emotionally complex and, in terms of narrative, occasionally challenging. It’s also a beautifully written book.
And I can hear all of you already: boys won’t like it. And I say again, tough. Young women have been reading books about boys for centuries. Young men can live with a few books that aren’t focused on them. It can be how we teach rather than what we teach that makes the difference.
About trigger warnings & parents: There is some debate among college faculty about the idea of warning students of material that might cause undue stress and, for lack of a better term, PTSD, in students. There is a scene in Bray that I thought about alerting readers to. You will, I think, know what I’m talking about it. It’s not the sexual nature of the main character early in her time in Ireland, it’s the vaguely violent, not exactly non-consensual but certainly not loving experience of it. It’s a rough moment.
I think that managing a text that deals explicitly with sex and teenage girls can be a difficult sell. But this is my point: it’s not like students aren’t bombarded with sex at every turn, and why not have real and meaningful exposure than cheap exposure? I’m honestly not sure you could get a book like this into a curriculum, but I think it is worth a try.
This Week’s Prompt: Let’s say that you managed to convince the faculty and parents at Brockton High School to let you teach this book in a 12th grade English class that meets the outcomes for the International Baccalaureate Programme. Th IB is sort of like an internationally recognized version of AP. You can read about it here. Some quick facts about Brockton High (from Wikipedia, so, you know, grain of salt) and in general: