Book Review: Dread Nation

Dread Nation starts out like historical fiction but then come the shamblers (zombies). The library classifies this book as a thriller, but it can also be classified as alternative history. Jane McKeen is the daughter of the richest white woman in Kentucky and her father was one of the “help.”  Since the day she was born someone was trying to kill her, but she’s a strong female protagonist. She’s smarter than most of the people around her. She even makes references to Shakespeare that no one gets.
Jane was born during The Civil War and two days after her birth the dead started rising from the battlefield. The states ended the war quickly because they saw that they had a much larger problem to deal with.  Jane goes to Miss Preston’s Combat School in Baltimore where African American girls are trained in both fighting and etiquette to protect rich white women who are now known as survivalists. Despite the end of slavery, for people like Jane there’s a new form of servitude.
The book is an allegory for life in the 1800’s. We see racism, classicism, feminism, sexism and bigotry. Although the book is primarily about African Americans and their struggles in a post-Civil War, zombie-filled world, we also see a glimpse into what the life of a Native American was like back then too. The Natives were also sent to combat schools but it sounds more like they were beaten and forced to forget their culture.
Despite some historical flaws (she goes back and forth between Native and Indian when only one would be used at the time) I enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to grades 9-12. I think that teens who enjoy historical fiction or teens that enjoy thrillers would like Dread Nation.

Ways to Use Flipgrid to Showcase Books

Flipgrid is a free resource where students can engage in a classroom or global community through short videos. Teachers start by creating grids for each class or content area and then topics for the different activities within the grid. If you’ve never used Flipgrid, this Educator’s Guide is the best place to start. In the ELA classroom, there are so many ways to use Flipgrid to showcase books. Try a few of these engaging activities on your classroom Flipgrid.

Literature Circle Book Discussions 

Literature circles are a fantastic way to differentiate instruction in your classroom by having your students read novels from different genres and reading levels. Create a topic in your ELA class grid for each of the novels being read in class. Have each group discuss the book freely in the topic. You may also want to create a grid for each book and separate topics for each discussion question.

Independent Reading Book Talks 

Let your students share the books they are reading on their own by creating their own book talks. When you post your Book Talk grid or topic, you may want to upload your own book talk as a model for students to use. Check out my book talk blog posts for what students should include in their book talks.

Read Alouds 

Use Flipgrid to practice reading fluency by showcasing first chapters of novels. This is one topic you may want to make optional as some students may struggle reading an entire chapter aloud to their peers. You may also exercise the option of monitoring the videos before posting them for the whole class to view. That way, each student may practice reading aloud for you, but you can approve the students’ videos that feel comfortable reading aloud. Videos can be up to five minutes long, so for some books and readers, they may choose to read just part of the first chapter.

Character Interaction 

Why not try a little creative acting with Flipgrid? Have your students answer questions as a character from a novel they are reading. For example, you may post a question such as, “What are your hopes and dreams?” Your students would answer as a main character from their novel while introducing the title and author of the novel in case other classmates are interested in reading it. Take it a step further and allow students to interact with each other as their characters, posting their own questions and responses.

Flipgrid is an incredible tool to use in your ELA classroom to build community and inspire young readers. These ways to use Flipgrid to showcase books can help your students find new titles to read and engage with their own independent reading novels. Try a few in your classroom.


Join my newsletter and get a free lesson plan.

Subscribe to get exclusive freebies, learn about sales, and be the first to learn about new content.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit