There seems to be a train of thought that the World Lit classroom is where you learn all the “old classics” like Beowulf, King Arthur, Gilgamesh, etc. Or where you learn about the old gods through mythology. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE all of this and teach it in my classroom. However, I also love to make modern connections with works as well. I recently shared a post where shared how to connect King Arthur and Aquaman. Today, I want to bring some love to a book that I fell in love with 3 years ago and so have my students- Sky in the Deep!
Sky in the Deep is a YA book that focuses on a female Viking warrior (Eelyn) as the protagonist. She is fierce and a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. She loves her family, friends, and the gods. Her life changes in an instant on the battlefield and is captured by the enemy….and her thought-to-be-dead brother. There is tons of action, just enough romance to be natural but not icky, and all great things Viking.
Now, that I’ve (hopefully) sold you on the book, let me tell you how this looks in my classroom. I always like to introduce Norse mythology into my classroom anyway. It’s rarely covered before they get to me and it’s just great fun! I typically like to use some chapters of Neil Gaimon’s Norse Mythology book for this portion and we learn about the culture and the gods as well. But, in 2017, I just knew I wanted to add in Sky in the Deep as well.
I read the first chapter aloud to my 10th graders and they LOVED it. The first chapter is pretty intense and one of my students actually asked if it was possible for a book to be rated R. I grinned and said, “Yes, yes it is”. My students were hooked and wanted to continue. I kept the pressure off as it isn’t a “canonical” piece. There were no packets or anything else you do with a typical book study. We just read, discussed, and occasionally did an assignment here and there.
My students were so in love that they were sad when there was no movie given that the book itself had only just come out (but fingers crossed that maybe one day there will be one!). They actually asked if they could make a fan film as a group project. Yes, students actually asked for work! I agreed and the following semester we wove it into our other plans for a few months. It was kind of like a genius hour project in that I allowed about an hour a week to work on it. We worked on screenplay adaptations, casting, filming….it was a big undertaking.
The day finally came for our “movie premier”! I put some red butcher paper on the floor outside my door and made an area where they could take photos. Yes, it was super cheesy, but we had a blast.
I hope that this inspires ways to connect the fabulous world classics we all love with YA selections that intrigue our students to WANT to read more and to dive deeper! And in the words of Eelyn: “Vegr yfir fjor”!