“Books Don’t Take You Anywhere” is one my favorite articles from The Onion for classroom use. Under 400 words, it is tiny in comparison to the heft of All
the King’s Men or The Grapes of Wrath. It can be used to teach satire, SOAPSTone, and argument. I also use it as a warm-up before using the AP Language and Composition’s 2005 rhetorical analysis taken from The Onion and have students use it to construct AP argument and rhetorical analysis prompts.
What isn’t there to love about a text that argues our reading never physically transports us to “evil witches, messianic lions or closet portals to other universes”? Hah. Even fifteen years later it holds up. This is not the moment where I make the argument that this is a more important text or where I suggest that students will actually laugh out loud while reading it. But it is where I argue that small texts are important classroom supplements.
As we enter mid January 2012, it seems appropriate that we deal with a series of small and unusual “texts” that make arguments about… well, texts. Why? Text, in all of its various forms, drives us to teach. Sometimes, too, it’s nice to be reminded in the “bleak mid-winter” that small texts can be just as powerful and meaningful. This week we will help remind you of just that with lessons highlighting Tiny Stories, book artists and phantoms, and Google Doodles. Our hope is that somewhere during these “darker” days you finding something meaningful in something small.