Loyola teacher Ms. Rebecca Tapanes was asked to write a novel study unit (including lesson plans) for a recently published fantasy novel called “A Wish in the Dark” by Christina Soontornvat. The book won the third annual Alexandria Award from the Center for Literacy Education at the University of Notre Dame. The award recognizes a middle grade or young adult book that advances Gospel values through the positive actions and portrayals of tenacious adolescents. It is named for Saint Catherine of Alexandria, an adolescent Christian of the fourth century who was an eager student and a famed orator.
A professor at the Center for Literacy Education requested that Ms. Tapanes (a former student of his) develop a series of lesson plans for the book that could be used by teachers around the country and would be shared alongside the news of the book winning the Alexandria Award. Ms. Tapanes graduated in May 2023 from Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) program with her graduate degree.
“It’s a really cool opportunity to be able to share my work beyond my classroom,” says Ms. Tapanes. “I love that my students get to benefit from it, but I also love that those conversations are happening in classrooms around the country.”
Ms. Tapanes read the book and created the lesson plan independently this past summer. She intentionally did not work directly with the author, though Ms. Soontornvat was thrilled with the lesson plan after it was released.
“With young adult literature, we need more diverse perspectives and authors,” says Ms. Tapanes. “It’s powerful to be able to read about diverse experiences and honor the author in that way. To lift up her work in a way that makes it more accessible to students across the country.”