by Karen Thompson Walker
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
Fear Is Simple and Profound
- Julia Butterfly Hill
In this speech, Julia Butterfly Hill explains how fear and addiction keep people from achieving their goals.Pair “Fear is Simple and Profound” with “What Fear Can Teach Us” and ask students to compare the two speakers’ opinions on fear. How does each speaker think fear motivates action? What positive qualities does fear have? How do the speakers think we should approach fear in the future?
The informational text “McCarthyism” discusses the United States’ fear of communism during the Cold War and the unfair trials led by Senator Joseph McCarthy to root out supposed communist spies.Pair “McCarthyism” with “What Fear Can Teach Us” and ask students to discuss how fear controls people’s actions in both texts. What was the United States’ fear during this time? To what extent was the “story” a fear that was productive for the United States? How did this prompt people to act in extreme ways? What do you think Walker would say regarding the actions that resulted from McCarthyism?
- Junot Díaz
In Junot Díaz’s “The Terror,” Díaz explores his experiences with fear after getting beat-up as an adolescent.Pair “What Fear Can Teach Us” with “The Terror” and ask students to discuss how the two texts explore the effects of fear. How do the two texts show the various effects of fear? Do you think Díaz’s fear was an example of the “useful fear” that Walker discusses in her text? Why or why not? How was Díaz’s fear harming him?
'Enemies from Within' Speech
- Senator Joseph McCarthy
In Senator Joseph McCarthy’s “‘Enemies from Within’ Speech,” he condemns the threat of communism and accuses the State Department of communist infiltration.Pair “What Fear Can Teach Us” with “‘Enemies from Within’ Speech” and ask students to discuss how Karen Thompson Walker might appraise Senator McCarthy’s perspective. Would she consider his fears about communism in America a helpful story or a “salacious” one? What does Karen Thompson Walker’s TED Talk imply about why American citizens may have supported Senator McCarthy’s perspective?
Why is it fun to be frightened?
- Margee Kerr
In the informational text “Why is it fun to be frightened?” Margee Kerr discusses why people enjoy being scared and what she learned from studying a group of people who went through a haunted house.Pair “What Fear Can Teach Us” with “Why is it fun to be frightened?” and ask students to discuss how we are affected by fear. Ask students to discuss how Karen Thompson Walker explores what we can learn from examining our fears more closely. How can this benefit people? How does this compare to engaging in scary fun?