Course Syllabus

Rose Tree Media School District

Penncrest High School

English Department

Course Syllabus: Every Voice



Ms. Carolyn Heaton, Room A105

Pi Lambda Sigma Faculty Advisor                                  




YOU are the very first students to take our brand-new course, Every Voice: Multicultural Literature. I am so excited to be taking this journey with you, and because you are helping shape the course, your voice is crucial to its future success. I will be soliciting your opinions, thoughts, wishes, and criticisms. Please know that I sincerely want your honest feedback, and I very much welcome suggestions.



Every Voice: Multicultural Literature is a dynamic, semesterized elective offering students an opportunity to sample literature from culturally-diverse authors. We will read a variety of work from around the world in a low-pressure educational environment. Homework will be kept at a minimum, and grades will be based on in-class writing assignments and class discussions. With literature as the springboard, we will explore ways in which diverse artistic expression can help enrich our experience, as well as help us understand what it means to be human.



The following essential questions will be explored in this class:

  • Why is it important to understand culture?

  • What is the importance of understanding cultural diversity?

  • How can you learn to see things from another person’s point of view? Why is it important?


Here are some of the texts that will help us answer those questions:

  • Naomi Shihab Nye (Burning the Old Year)

  • Jhumpa Lahiri (A Temporary Matter)

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Cell One)

  • Langston Hughes (Thank You, Ma’am,  Seven People Dancing, & selected poetry))

  • Renee Watson (Half a Moon)

  • Sherman Alexie (Fixed Income, Honor Society, Valediction)

  • Sandra Cisneros (My Tocaya)

  • Haruki Murakami (Town of Cats)

  • Philip Roth (Defender of the Faith)

  • ZZ Packer (Brownies)

  • Zadie Smith (The Embassy of Cambodia)

  • Alice Elliot Dark (In the Gloaming) 

  • Ben Neihart (Hey, Joe)

  • Reginald McKnight (The Kind of Light that Shines on Texas)

  • Junot Diaz (Watching Spider-Man in Santo Domingo)

  • Khaled Hosseini (excerpt from The Kite Runner)

  • Lynn Nottage (Sweat)

  • Toni Morrison (Sweetness)

  • Alice Walker (The Way Forward is with a Broken Heart)

  • Gwendolyn Brooks (poetry)

  • Countee Cullen (poetry)

  • Nikki Giaovanni (poetry)

  • James Weldon Johnson (poetry)

  • Paul Laurence Dunbar (poetry)

  • Haki R. Madhubuti (poetry)

  • Tupac Shakur (poetry)

  • Sonia Sanchez (poetry)

  • Terence Hayes (poetry)

  • Iain Pollock (poetry)


“Everyone has a story”. I’ll ask you to spend some time each week working on your story. Why? Because storytelling helps...

    • encourage a sense of belonging

    • foster an appreciation for texts

      • Ideally, your storytelling would dovetail with themes of the literature



Students are responsible for missed work. All work is to be made up within one week- no exceptions. Please see me if you’ve missed class; it is the student’s responsibility to follow up with me after missing class to get assignments. Unexcused absences will prevent you from making up work. I check email frequently, and am available most mornings before school and afternoons until at least 3:00.  Cell phone use during class is prohibited. If you use it, you lose it.

I am looking forward to a productive and successful semester with you!