One of my favorite novels to teach is Anthem by Ayn Rand.
It is short enough that it can be read in a week or two.
The ideas for teaching the novel are endless. I read it
aloud in class and after each session, I assign a
journal. Here are a few samples of journal choices:
Equality 72521 was taught as a child to recite a pledge
which states: "We are nothing. Mankind is all. By the
grace of our brothers are we allowed our lives. We exist
through, by, and for our brothers who are the state. Amen."
What do you think happens to the personality and sense of
individuality in a child when he is taught that he is
"nothing?" How do the people in this story seem to feel
about their lives? How is Equality 72521 different from
the others? Give specific examples.
Equality 72521 suddenly found that he was happy to be
alive. Why? Are you happy to be alive? Explain.
Equality 72521 first experiences a sense of accomplishment
and pride. Why was he excited about this? Have you ever
created something of which you were proud? Tell about it.
Describe Equality 72521's first day in the Unchartered
forest. How did he react to his new feelings of freedom?
What was his reaction when he saw his reflection for the
first time? What did he see in his own face which is
different from the faces of his brothers? Explain why you
think he looked different from the others.
Discuss the use of the word "we" in this book. Do you
think it is harmful for men to be treated as if they are
not individuals, but instead just a part of a group?
At the end of the novel, I give an essay assignment about
the importance of freedom and individuality or a project in
which students may present the ideas from the novel in any
number of representations. My greatest experience in
teaching this novel occurred about ten years ago when a
group of high school sophomores chose to film their own
version as a movie. They designed costumes, a set, the
works! I have found that students relate well to this
novel and it is interesting to teach as well.