Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Survival and CanLit
For homework, before assigning this activity, ask students to visit a bookstore and calculate what percentage of books are Canadian. Within the Canadian section, how much is devoted to literature? Have them share and discuss their findings with the class.
Outline the Opportunity
Have students view the clip "A precocious and creative child" on Margaret Atwood: Queen of Can Lit on the CBC Digital Archives website. The clip is based on Atwood's book of criticism, Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature. Ask students to summarize the theme of survival in Canadian literature and the basic victim positions. Then in small groups, have students conduct a formal discussion about the Canadian literature they have read and how it follows or does not follow this theme. Each member of the group must participate, and one member should be appointed to lead the discussion.
Revisit and Reflect
Have each group leader summarize the discussion for the class. Expand the discussion by asking the same questions that Adrienne Clarkson poses in this interview: Is our literature invisible to us? Do you go out of your way to buy a Canadian book? When you read something that is Canadian, do you recognize it as Canadian? What is the difference between an American and a Canadian book? What is Canadian about Canadian literature?
Invite a bookseller to speak to the class. Have students ask a series of questions about selling Canadian works, such as how they are rated in terms of sales and how they are promoted. After the interview, have students write suggestions for promoting Canadian literature.