Do you have an old copy of The Great Gatsby lying around? Here's what you can do with it, Old Sport.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I teach in an inner-city school where students do not have enough access to the books that they needs. And, if you went to high school in this country, the chances are high that you had to buy a copy of The Great Gatsby somewhere along the way. Therefore, I am asking you to have a look at your bookshelf or in your attic and see if you still have a copy of The Great Gatsby lying around.
If you would like to donate your copy to students who will definitely put it to use, please mail it to me at:
c/o Mr. Brame
Memphis, TN 38104
Include a note to my students. They are always appreciative of strangers who show them generosity, and they would love to hear from you.
I began teaching The Great Gatsby four years ago, when a colleague of mine found 25 copies of the novel in a box in a storage closet. At that time, I was teaching three different courses without a single book. (I spent hours down at the copy machine, running off packets of my old texts and creating ancillary materials as I went along. It was exhausting.) The choice to teach this novel was a no-brainer. Here were books! What else was I going to do with them but hand them out?
At first, I was quite apprehensive about how the novel would go over. How were my students going to relate to the travails of these ultra-rich whiny white people in 1920s New York? But I should not have worried. Gatsby was a smashing success that first year, and it has only become more popular each year I teach it.
I show my students the 1974 version of the movie, starring Robert Redford, while we read it. (Don't judge me on this. You and I know the movie is bad, but they love it.) We do a research project on the 1920s, some of them learn to do the Charleston, and at the end the students make facebook pages for the characters. Lots of the kids start calling me "Old Sport."
We will start reading the book on March 19, when we return from spring break. (Spring is the best time of the year to read Gatsby, I am convinced.) I am still using those same 25 copies that my colleague found four years ago. We have enough for each student in class--barely--but we don't have enough for any of them to take them home to read on their own. And that's where you can help, Old Sport.