Teaching 13 Reasons Why


I read Jay Asher's YA book 13 Reasons Why about 2 years ago. It's a story about a young girl who commits suicide and her friend who tries to find out why. While the story deals with very difficult mental health topics, Netflix has created the next bing watching experience. Since it's launch two weeks ago, 13 Reasons Why has taken Netflix, and the Internet, by storm. This popularity provides educators with a wealth of teaching strategies and connections.

  • Read the book in class. Have students compare and contrast the similarities and differences between the book and the series.
  • Create a Community Resource Guide: Help students identify resources for mental health, suicide awareness, bullying (among others) and create a community resource.
  • Introduce O. Henry's  “The Gift of the Magi” and talk about themes in literature.
  • Have students write a prompt at the end of each chapter. 
  • Check out more ideas with Penguin's Educator's Guide

Using current trends in movies, TV, (Netflix) and books can be a perfect way to bring relevance into the classroom. Is anyone watching this series? If so, how would you use it in the classroom? 

I'd love to hear your thoughts. 



I have spoken with high school educators who have reservations about teaching this book as it "romanticizes" suicide.  I feel that it creates an opportunity to breach a sensitive subject area.  Our adult students/clients bring a wealth of life experience to the classroom that could add great depth to the conversation, as they reflect on their own high school experience and how things have/haven't changed with the growth of social media.  I love the idea of creating a community resource guide.


I have also read many concerns from psychologists, educators, parents, and school counselors about how the book romanticizes suicide. I hesitated prior to posting this discussion. Yet, I think the book and Netflix series are incredibly popular right now and as educators, we can bring classroom discussions forward to take out the romantic ideas and talk about the reality of this impact. Right now, I have a teen-age daughter. She and her college friends have all watched this movie. I followed the twitter hashtag, saw the reddit comments, and understood that when something is so culturally popular, we can shape the learning experience. 

I'd love to hear other's thoughts about it.