Author Feature-Donna Cooner

 


Spirit of Texas Reading Program

High School

Featured Author

Donna Cooner

Donna Cooner

Skinny

Donna Cooner was born and raised in Texas before moving to beautiful Fort Collins, Colorado. She is a former teacher and school administrator, who now directs the teacher preparation program at Colorado State University. Donna's debut novel, Skinny, is a YALSA Teen's Top Ten Nominee and a Bank Street's Best Children's Book of the Year. 


 

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Book Trailer

 


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Book Quiz

Printable Copy

  1. What is the significance of the title? What are its various meanings in the novel? Why do you think the author chose that title?
  2. Do you have a "Skinny" in your life? What is his/her name? What does he/she say to you? How do you respond?
  3. How would you describe the character of Skinny? 
  4. Ever's visualization of Skinny during the final confrontation is not what she expected. What did you think of her appearance? How did she differ from your mental picture of Skinny?
  5. During Ever's final confrontation with Skinny, she calls her "my nagging constant – the nagging fairy godmother whose voice led me down this path." (p. 223) Do you think this is true? Why or why not? 
  6. What did you know about gastric bypass surgery before reading the novel? What did you learn that you didn't know before?
  7. Do you think gastric bypass was the right decision for Ever?
  8. Do you think she could have achieved weight loss without gastric bypass? Why or why not?
  9. After the surgery, Ever discovers she has a wider support network than she thought. Do you think Ever could have been successful without these new friends supporting her? Why or why not?
  10. After the prom, Ever says the following: "What a hypocrite. I felt like nothing, but I made everything all about me." (p. 232) What do you think she means? Why does it take her so long to come to this realization?
  11. Ever's story has many parallels to the musical she stars in at the end of the novel, Cinderella. How is her story similar to Cinderella's? How does it differ?
  12. How is Ever's life different at the end of the novel in comparison to the beginning?


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Academic Program
Thinking 'Skinny' 

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Related Documents

Introduction

The activities in this program are intended to use Skinny in a Health 1 class in grades 9-12. Skinny is an excellent resource for exploring several issues that students must address in Health, including body image, nutrition, quality of life, eating disorders, the availability and effectiveness of health services, communication, and empathy. Teachers can use all or selected activities to understand the issues. While it is ideal for students to read the book in its entirety, teachers may be able to use excerpts to communicate key concepts to students.

Books to Display or Book Talk

FICTION

  • Does This Book Make Me Look Fat by edited by Marissa Walsh
  • Teenage Waistland by Lynn Biederman
  • Trick of the Light by Lois Metzger
  • Zoe Letting Go by Nora Price
  • Tyranny by Lesley Fairfield
  • Thinandbeautiful.com by Liane Shaw
  • Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Skinny by Ibi Kaslik
  • Purge by Sarah Littman
  • Butter by Erin Jade Lange
  • Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught
  • Fat Cat by Robin Brande

NONFICTION

  • Purge: Rehab Diaries by Nicole Johns
  • Stick Figure by Lori Gottlieb
  • When the Mirror Lies: Anorexia, Bulimia and Other Eating Disorders by Tamra Orr
  • Diet and Your Emotions: The Comfort Food Falsehood by Joan Esherick
  • Social Discrimination and Body Size: Too Big to Fit? by Autumn Libal
  • Food as Foe: Nutrition and Eating Disorders by Lesli Favor
  • Fat So: Because You Don't Have to Apologize for Your Size by Marilyn Wann
  • Eating Well After Weight Loss Surgery by Patt Levine
  • Your Food Is Fooling You by David A. Kessler
  • Weight Loss Confidential: How Teens Lose Weight and Keep It Off—And What They Wish Parents Knew by Anne M. Fletcher and Holly Wyatt

Activity #1 - Think-Pair-Share, an Anticipatory Activity

List of Supplies

  • Food that comes in or can be cut into 1 TBSP sizes (ex. banana; one for each student in the class)
  • Whiteboard and dry erase markers, or student paper and pens
  • Magazines, newspapers

Description of Activity

Write the title of the book on the board or show students the book cover. Have students think about the word "skinny" individually. After teens have written down their thoughts on "skinny", pair them and have them share with each other what they think of when they hear that word. Predict what the book will be about. Why is it titled "skinny"? Have pairs share their predictions with the class, explaining their reasoning.

This activity can be extended by having students write the word "skinny" on a poster or a sheet of paper. What is the opposite of "skinny" (ex. fat, obese, etc.)? Write this word on a separate sheet of paper or poster. Students look through magazines and newspapers to find examples of each word. Cut them out and glue them to the appropriate paper or poster. Post them around the room and discuss questions such as: Was it easy to find examples of each word? What is the cumulative effect of all these images?

Brainstorm what students already know or have heard about gastric bypass. Allow students partake in eating food in the portion allowed to Ever after her gastric bypass and then discuss what it would be like to live off of meals that small. [When providing food, make sure to check for food allergies prior to the activity.] 

TEKS

  • Health – 1d, 2c, 4a 17b
  • English 1 – 17, 18, 19, 20a, 25
  • English 2 – 17, 18, 19, 20a, 25
  • English 3 – 17, 18, 19, 20a, 25
  • English 4 – 17, 18, 19, 20a, 25

Activity #2: Character Messages

List of Supplies

  • Butcher paper
  • Markers

Description of Activity

Once students have read through chapter four of Cooner's Skinny (teacher can excerpt chapters three and four to read in class together if desired), put students in small groups. Assign each group one of the following characters: Skinny, Briella, Ever's Dad, Rat, Ever's classmates. Each group gets a large sheet of butcher paper and markers. Students in each group will select important words or phrases that represent the messages Ever is receiving from their assigned character. Students will present and explain their poster to the class. Discuss what message the combination of all of these characters has on Ever, as well as other sources of messages we get about our bodies. Examine what impact these messages have on teens.

TEKS

  • Health – 1d, 4a, 8a, 8b, 15a, 15b
  • English 1 – 5b, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26
  • English 2 – 5b, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26
  • English 3 – 5b, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26
  • English 4 - 5b, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26

Activity #3 - Video Flipped

List of Supplies

  • Copy of the video Teen Files Flipped: Eating Disorders/Steroids (AIMS Media, 2002)

Description of Activity

Students will watch the video The Teen Files Flipped: Eating Disorders/Steroids then compare and contrast with Donna Cooner's Skinny. This comparison can occur as part of a class discussion or in response journal format.

Sample discussion questions to be considered as a class or in individual student journals:

How do you determine "ideal weight"?

What are signs that you are too concerned with your appearance?

In what ways is Ever's experience similar to Sally's? How is it different?

Do you think boys have as many image insecurities as girls? Why?

Is surgery ever the "right" answer to change your appearance? Why or why not?

TEKS

  • Health – 1b, 1c, 1d, 4, 17a
  • English 1 – 12a, 12b, 13b, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25
  • English 2 – 12a, 12b, 13b, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25
  • English 3 – 12a, 12b, 13b, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25
  • English 4 – 12a, 12b, 13b, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25

Activity #4 - Evaluating Gastric Bypass

List of Supplies

  • Student access to the internet (or teachers can make copies of information from websites and distribute to students)
  • Computer access for creating brochures, or art supplies such as colored pencils and markers
  • Paper

Description of Activity

Students will research gastric bypass surgery on reliable websites such as Medline Plus. Using the information gathered, students will create a brochure for teens considering gastric bypass surgery.

Brochures should include the following:

Who should and should not consider the surgery.

An explanation of the process and how gastric bypass works

Possible outcomes and risks of gastric bypass.

Using the information they gathered from these medical websites, students will evaluate how accurate the information about gastric bypass is in Donna Cooner's Skinny.

*Alternately, students could be broken into small groups and research and produce a brochure on various cosmetic surgeries instead of just gastric bypass.

Sample Brochures

Student Resources

TEKS

  • Health – 1c, 1d, 2c, 5a, 5b, 5d, 17a, 17b, 17c
  • English 1 – 15d, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
  • English 2 – 15d, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
  • English 3 – 15d, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23
  • English 4 – 15d, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

Activity #5 - Analyzing Skinny

List of Supplies

Description of Activity

Use the discussion guide questions provided for Skinny as journal prompts for individual students or as class discussion starters as students read the novel.

TEKS

  • Health – 4, 8a, 8b,
  • English 1 – 13b, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25
  • English 2 – 13b, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25
  • English 3 – 13b, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25
  • English 4 – 13b, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25


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Active Programs

Becoming Your Best Self

Printable Copy

Introduction

The purpose of this program is to help teens learn skills for healthy living, focusing on the mind and body. Each activity utilizes an outside presenter to offer professional information to the teens and help connect the library to the community it serves. These activities can be broken up into separate programs, or they can be presented as a series of programs taking place over a few weeks.

Books to Display or Book Talk

NONFICTION

  • The Yoga Bible by Christina Brown
  • The Women's Health Big Book of Yoga: The Essential Guide to Complete Mind/Body Fitness by Kathryn Budwig
  • Breathe: Yoga for Teens by Mary Kaye Chryssicas
  • Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs by Rozanne Gold
  • The Smoothie Recipe Book by Mendocino Press
  • Superfood Smoothies: 100 Delicious, Energizing, and Nutrient-Dense Recipes by Julie Morris
  • Zumba: Ditch the Workout, Join the Party! by Beto Perez
  • The Teen Eating Manifesto by Lisa Stollman
  • My Anxious Mind: A Teen's Guide to Managing Anxiety and Panic by Michael A. Tompkins and Katherine A. Martinez

AUDIOBOOKS

  • Mindfulness Mediations for Teens by Bodhipaksa
  • Rays of Calm: Relaxation for Teenagers by Christiane Kerr

DVDS

  • AM & PM Yoga for Beginners by Elena Bower
  • Total Yoga by Gaga White & Tracy Rich
  • Yoga for Beginners by Barbara Benagh
  • Yoga for Stress Relief by Barbara Benagh
  • Zumba Fitness: Complete Total-Body Transformation System
  • Zumba Exhilarate Body Shaping System

Activity #1 - Zumba: Dance Party!

List of Supplies

  • A licensed Zumba instructor
  • An AV system for music (either a CD player or MP3 connection)
  • Nintendo Wii console & controllers
  • Zumba Fitness game for Wii
  • General release form to be signed by parent or guardian

Description of Activity

This activity introduces exercise into teens' lives with Zumba, a high-energy dance workout, either through a licensed Zumba instructor or Zumba Fitness for the Nintendo Wii console.

Activity #2: Om: Yoga & Smoothies

List of Supplies

  • A licensed yoga instructor
  • An AV system for music (either a CD player or MP3 connection)
  • General release form to be signed by parent or guardian
  • Blender
  • Plastic cups
  • Smoothie ingredients (see Resources for links to websites with easy smoothie recipes)

Description of Activity

This activity teaches teens the importance of meditation and exercise through the practice of yoga.

Activity #3: Healthy Food Made Easy

List of Supplies

  • A licensed nutritionist, healthy eating specialist or chef specializing in healthy cooking

Description of Activity

This activity gives teens important information concerning proper nutrition, as well as tips and tricks for healthy cooking.

Activity #4: Ending Negative Self-Talk

List of Supplies

  • A licensed mental health specialist

Description of Activity

This activity is designed to help teens identify negative self-talk and teach them ways to overcome it.

Resources for Teens

WEBSITES

Professional Resources for Librarian and Teacher

WEBSITES

Program Flyers


The Soundtrack to My Life

Introduction

In Skinny, Ever picks a song each week that she feels best fits her life at that moment. If you could create a soundtrack to your own life, what songs would be on it? The purpose of this activity is to help teens connect their life, the important moments and the every day, to the music they love.

Books to Display or Book Talk

FICTION

  • Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway
  • Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
  • The Half Life of Planets by Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin
  • Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going
  • Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John
  • Amplified by Tara Kelly
  • The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
  • The Vinyl Princess by Yvonne Prinz
  • This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

NONFICTION

  • Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life by Steve Almond
  • This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of Human Obsession by Daniel J. Levitin

List of Supplies

  • The Soundtrack to My Life Prompt Sheet (see Program Flyers)
  • Writing utensils
  • Computers, laptops, or tablets with an Internet connection
  • Access to Spotify, Grooveshark, or a similar music program

Description of Activity

Give each participant a copy of The Soundtrack to My Life Prompt Sheet and allow teens plenty of time to fill out the prompt sheet, using the computers to research songs. After teens have filled out their prompt sheets, allow time for them to share why they picked some of the songs on their playlists. If time and permissions allow, teens may sign up for one of the free music sharing programs online and create their playlist to share. An alternative is for the librarian to sign up for an account and create the playlists to share with the teens.

Resources for Teens

BOOKS

  • Music Listography: Your Life in Playlists by Lisa Nola

WEBSITES

Professional Resources for Librarian and Teacher

BOOKS

  • Music Listography: Your Life in Playlists by Lisa Nola

WEBSITES

Program Flyers, Templates, Etc.


A Jar Full of Compliments

Introduction

In the novel, Ever allows her inner voice, Skinny, to feed her negative thoughts about herself. We all have an inner voice who tries to drag us down when we are most vulnerable. The purpose of this activity is to help teens create a jar full of inspirational quotes and compliments that they can turn to when their inner voice becomes too loud.

Books to Display or Book Talk

FICTION

  • Such a Pretty Face: Short Stories about Beauty by Ann Angel
  • The Skin I'm In by Sharon Flake
  • My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend
  • Burning Blue by Paul Griffin
  • North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
  • Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata
  • The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
  • Skin by Donna Jo Napoli
  • Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross
  • Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan
  • Gorgeous by Rachel Vail
  • The List by Siobhan Vivian

List of Supplies

  • Mason jars with lids, or emptied and cleaned recycled jars with lids – 1 for each teen
  • Decorating supplies: Use paint & paintbrushes, pictures, Mod Podge, ribbon, felt, buttons, Sharpies, or any other crafting supplies you have on hand
  • Scissors
  • Craft glue
  • Colorful paper
  • Pre-printed inspirational quotes

Description of Activity

Begin by giving each participant a jar. Give teens time (about an hour) to decorate their empty jar and lid using the decoration materials provided. Have each teen write at least 5 complimentary or empowering things about themselves. These should be cut into individual compliments, folded and placed in the decorated jar. Have each teen pick several additional inspirational quotes to fold and place inside the jar. Each teen should ask several friends, family members or mentors to write at least 5 complimentary or empowering things each about the teen. These should also be cut into individual compliments, folded and placed in the decorated jar. (This part of the activity can be completed outside the library.) Contents of the jar can be consulted when teens need a self-esteem boost.

Resources for Teens

BOOKS

  • DIY Mason Jars: Thirty-Five Creative Crafts and Projects for the Classic Container by Melissa Averinos
  • The Girls' Book of Wisdom: Empowering, Inspirational Quotes from over 400 Fabulous Females by Catherine Dee
  • Mason Jar Crafts: DIY Projects for Adorable and Rustic Décor, Storage, Lighting, Gifts and Much More by Lauren Elisa Donaldson
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations by Elizabeth Knowles

Professional Resources for Librarian and Teacher

BOOKS

  • DIY Mason Jars: Thirty-Five Creative Crafts and Projects for the Classic Container by Melissa Averinos
  • The Girls' Book of Wisdom: Empowering, Inspirational Quotes from over 400 Fabulous Females by Catherine Dee
  • Mason Jar Crafts: DIY Projects for Adorable and Rustic Décor, Storage, Lighting, Gifts and Much More by Lauren Elisa Donaldson
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations by Elizabeth Knowles

Program Flyers, Templates, etc.


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Passive Program
What is Beauty? 

Printable Copy

Introduction

The purpose of this display is to highlight beauty across the world and throughout history. By highlighting the continually changing beauty ideals, it is hoped that teens will gain a greater appreciation for their own inner and outer beauty.

Books to Display or Book Talk

FICTION

  • Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
  • Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah
  • The Fold by An Na
  • Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
  • The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

NONFICTION

  • The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls by Joan Jacobs Brumberg
  • Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty by Nancy Etcoff
  • Images and Issues of Women in the Twentieth Century, 5 Volumes by Catherine Gourley
  • What People Wore When by Melissa Leventon
  • Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture by Kathy Peiss
  • Fashion: A Visual History from Regency & Romance to Retro & Revolution by NJ Stevenson

List of Supplies

  • Butcher Paper, scissors, stapler
  • Pictures highlighting beauty from several countries and historical eras

Description of Activity

A static display that will highlight beauty around the world and throughout history.

Resources for Teens

WEBSITES

Professional Resources for Librarian and Teacher

WEBSITES

 

True Beauty

Introduction

The purpose of this program is to spread positivity through encouraging notes and inspirational quotes. Teens are encouraged to write positive, uplifting notes on Post-Its and secretly place them in locations where people are most likely to need a confidence boost (bathroom mirrors, locker rooms, etc.).

Books to Display or Book Talk

FICTION

  • Such a Pretty Face: Short Stories about Beauty by Ann Angel
  • The Skin I'm In by Sharon Flake
  • My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend
  • Burning Blue by Paul Griffin
  • North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
  • Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata
  • The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
  • Skin by Donna Jo Napoli
  • Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross
  • Gorgeous by Rachel Vail
  • The List by Siobhan Vivian

List of Supplies

  • Butcher Paper, scissors, stapler
  • An assortment of inspirational quotes and pictures
  • Post-It notes
  • Sharpies and other writing utensils

Description of Activity

This serves as both a static display and a program where teens can participate as they have time or motivation. Begin by creating an eye-catching display of inspirational quotes, pictures and books. Include completed Post-It notes or pictures of notes from the Operation Beautiful website (listed in the resources). Set out colorful Post-It notes and Sharpies and encourage teens to create their own notes to share.

Resources for Teens

BOOKS

  • Operation Beautiful: One Note at a Time by Caitlin Boyle, 2012

WEBSITES

Professional Resources for Librarian and Teacher

BOOKS

  • Operation Beautiful: One Note at a Time by Caitlin Boyle, 2012
  • The Girls' Book of Wisdom: Empowering, Inspirational Quotes from over 400 Fabulous Females by Catherine Dee
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations by Elizabeth Knowles

WEBSITES

 

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Resources

Academic Program

Body Modification Brochure

Gastric Bypass Brochure

Active Program 

Best Self

Healthy Eating Poster

Mental Health Poster

Yoga Poster

Zumba Poster

Jar Full of Compliments

Inspirational Quotes

Poster

Soundtrack to My Life

Poster

Prompt Sheet

Annotated Bibliography

Book Quiz

Passive Program

Read-A-Likes


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Created on Mar 27, 2014 | Last updated July 15, 2015