Mark Kurlansky discusses how humans treat the oceans and the fish that live in them, and what the world will likely look like if fish populations continue to decline.
Below are some reading passages that we have hand picked to supplement this book. Be sure to read the passage summaries and our suggestions for instructional use.
6th Grade Informational Text 600L
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Passage Summary: This informational text discusses the diverse interactions of organisms that can be mutually beneficial.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text before students begin reading “World Without Fish”, to provide them with additional information on how diverse organisms interact. Ask students to discuss how “Can’t We All Just Get Along?” explores how different species rely on each other for survival. According to the article, how would barnacles be affected if whales went extinct?
8th Grade Poem
Passage Summary: In John Masefield’s poem “Sea Fever,” the speaker discusses his desire to return to the sea.
When and How to Pair: Have students read this text after they finish Chapter 6, to provide them with a comparative perspective about life at sea. Ask students to compare the views of the speaker in John Masefield’s poem with the fishermen’s perspective in “World Without Fish.” How does the speaker in Masefield’s poem and the fishermen in “World Without Fish” both have a personal connection to the sea? How does “Sea Fever” and “World Without Fish” help students understand the financial and emotional costs if fishermen were required to give up their life at sea?
7th Grade News 1200L
Genetically Modified Salmon: Food or 'Frankenfish'?
Passage Summary: This article reports on a new yet controversial technology that makes it possible for companies to raise genetically modified salmon that grow very fast.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after students read Chapter 7, to provide them with an example of a controversial solution to declining fish populations. Ask students to discuss how the fish farming discussed in the text compares to the fish farming explored in “World Without Fish.” What additional problems does farming natural fish and “Frankenfish” present? Why isn’t either a viable solution for declining wild fish populations?
6th Grade Informational Text 880L
Tiny Plastic, Big Problem
Passage Summary: When plastic was invented at the turn of 20th century, it was lauded as a miraculous new material that could be used to create innumerable products. Few could have recognized the impact that plastic would have on our world – particularly in our oceans – over the course of a century.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after students have read Chapter 9, to provide students with information on how plastic trash ends up in oceans and the negative impact it has on the environment. Ask students to compare the effects that plastic trash has on oceans, as discussed in “Tiny Plastic, Big Problem,” with the negative effects that oil has on oceans that “World Without Fish” identifies. According to Stevens and Kurlansky, how are the animals higher up the food chain affected by fish that consume oil and plastic trash?
10th Grade News 1140L
Fracking Fuels Energy Debate
Passage Summary: We use the energy from natural gas for power. However, a relatively new process of getting this natural gas out of the ground called fracking has sparked a debate about sustainable energy.
When and How to Pair: Have students read this text after Chapter 9, to provide students with an example of how the pursuit of energy sources often leads to pollution. Ask students to consider how the costs of fracking compare to the disadvantages of drilling for oil, as discussed in chapter 9 of “World Without Fish.” Have students discuss how one means of extracting natural resources may be preferable to the other. How do both forms of extracting natural resources ultimately impact oceans and drinking water in a negative way?
10th Grade Essay 1080L
Choosing a Warning Label for Human DNA
Passage Summary: In this essay, science, technology, and travel writer Charles Wohlforth explores the complicated relationship between human beings and their treatment of the ecosystem that allows them life.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text at the end of Chapter 10, to provide students with a comparative perspective on the future of our planet. Ask students to discuss the warning tone that both Wohlforth and Kurlansky take, and how they encourage humans to change their treatment of the environment. According to the authors, what kind of future will take place if humans do not change how they interact with the environment?
8th Grade Poem
World Below the Brine
Passage Summary: In Walt Whitman’s poem “World Below the Brine,” the speaker explores the world under the sea.
When and How to Pair: Have students read this text after they finish “World Without Fish,” to encourage them to consider the full extent of what could be lost if humans don’t change their relationship with animals and the environment. Ask students to discuss how the world that Walt Whitman describes could be altered by the changes discussed in “World Without Fish”? Ask students to consider the effects on animals, plants, and even the water itself.
6th Grade Informational Text 1000L
Marley Dias: The 13-Year-Old Activist & Author
Passage Summary: In the informational text “Marley Dias: The 13-Year-Old Activist & Author,” Barrett Smith discusses the activism of a young girl who collects and donates books with black girls as the main characters.
When and How to Pair: Introduce this text after students read the resources that the author provides at the end of the text, about how readers can help preserve threatened fish populations. Ask students to discuss how Marley Dias became an activist for social change, and how they themselves can help create environmental change. What characteristics do students think are important for becoming a leader or contributor to a movement? How might students consider the contributors of “World Without Fish” as activists?