Drugs figure prominently in S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, a novel about friendship and belonging in the early 1960s. Alcohol, tobacco and caffeinated drinks are mentioned dozens of times, sometimes playing a pivotal role in the plotline, other times offering insight into the daily lives and world views of various characters. Members of both the underprivileged Greasers and over-privileged Socs use drugs, though each character’s relationship with drugs is unique. Different substances are used—or not used—for different reasons and in different ways.
The Outsiders is ideal for helping Grade 8 students develop drug literacy. The story exposes young readers to a wealth of factors related to why people use drugs, and helps them identify and explore some of the potential benefits and consequences of our drug-related choices.
English Language Arts
• Apply appropriate strategies to comprehend written, oral and visual texts, guide inquiry, and extend thinking.
• Think critically, creatively and reflectively to explore ideas within, between and beyond texts.
• Exchange ideas and viewpoints to build shared understanding and extend thinking.
• Recognize and identify the role of personal, social and cultural contexts, values and perspectives in
• Construct meaningful personal connections between self, text and world.
• Respond to text in personal, creative and critical ways.
• Use writing and design processes to plan, develop and create engaging and meaningful literary and
informational texts for a variety of purposes and audiences.
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