Young Adult Lit/Crit

April 2, 2008

Thoughts on Duke

Filed under: Reeves — katefrazer @ 3:17 pm

After reading all Reeves has to say about Duke, he seems like a pretty interesting guy.  He also seems like a tough case for us English teachers.  It is obvious that he is motivated and wants to have be successful and have a career, but all of this motivation and drive is towards music not towards reading or all things school related.  My immediate thoughts when I  just started this chapter were, have Duke read song lyrics, biographies of rappers, technical information on music.  However, this is obviously too easy of an answer, and my quick fix for this non-reader was ruled out as I read that Duke said, “Readin’ the music always bored me,” (71).  What do we do with our students like Duke? 

As information about Duke continued through his interaction with Reeves,  I felt both better and worse about his situation.  He does write creatively, and it appears as if one of his multiple English teachers is trying to reach him through this angle.  He also loved Of Mice and Men because of his mom.  What if other people did the same thing for him?  What if someone talked about a book that genuinely interested them and maybe even showed him the movie?  Would that work with another book as it did with this one?  I think it’s at least worth trying.  On the other hand, I was perplexed by Duke’s issues with books not turning out the way he wanted them to, and that this really turned him off reading.  He made a good argument, but readers have no control over what the author has written.  If we want books to represent real life, they aren’t always going to turn out the way we want.  Reeves discusses how Duke was never taught to truly read a text which included important components like arguing with the text, something Duke would love to do, but never thought possible.  If Duke was encouraged to do this now, maybe he would feel more connected with the text and feel some of the power he does with his own writing. 

There is so much to discuss about Duke’s current schooling situation and what to do to encourage him.  I have a few other points that I feel are great discussion jump offs.  Duke says, “But you gotta work to read,” (98).  Sometimes I don’t think about how challenging reading can be for some people because I always loved to read.  What is the best way to address this issue?  Reading can be hard.  I would probably start by agreeing and talking from there.  One last thing.  I have very mixed feelings on books on tape, but I’m wondering if someone who is so motivated by hearing and listening, like Duke, would benefit from them.  I’m am interested to hear what others have to say. 



  1. I have mixed feelings about books on tape too. I am always marking my books, even if it’s just underlining a favorite (but not important) line in the book. However I think Duke is a prime candidate for books on tape. He is so drawn to music and oral communication (rap). From there I think you could have Duke write about what happened, why he did or didnt like it, and even allow him to propose an alternate ending, as long as he could back it up. Reflective writing like that shouldn’t be any less valued than a traditional essay; as long as he can offer opinion and proof of having ‘read’ the book, and use correct grammar and punctuation, who cares if his response is in prose (rap) form?

    Comment by ebrazee — April 2, 2008 @ 9:56 pm

  2. Kate brought up the important section of the Chapter that talked about Duke being interested in Of Mice And Men because his mother was interested in it: “What if other people did the same thing for him? What if someone talked about a book that genuinely interested them and maybe even showed him the movie? Would that work with another book as it did with this one? I think it’s at least worth trying.”

    I think this is such an important point made by Reeves because trust will play such a crucial role in recommending books to students, especially the reluctant onces. Duke trusted his mother’s taste in this book and was basically willing to read it, and was open to her suggestions. If we can gain this credibility as teachers I think we would really be getting somewhere with students like Duke!

    Comment by Kari — April 3, 2008 @ 1:36 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: