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The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter is an historical fiction Young Adult novel about a teenage boy, True Son, who was captured by American Indians as a young child, grew up as an adopted member of the tribe, and is then forcibly returned to his white family at age fifteen. The central theme of the book is True Son’s conflict with his identity and the questions of who his true family is and where his allegiance should lie.

During this unit, students will complete most of the reading assignments outside of class. Spread throughout different stages of the reading, the lessons taught during each class focus on developing an understanding of the ways elements of fiction contribute to both the reading and writing experience, the influence of personal perspective, and the many elements of life that contribute to the formation of identity. This unit is designed to be taught toward the end of the first semester of sixth grade, when content like plot, the writing process, and basic essay structure have already been taught. With these basics already intact, students delve into the deeper questions of character and point of view development and synthesize their knowledge at the of the unit into a persuasive essay on identity supported by textual evidence and followed by an oral debate.

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