The One Where I Read • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

In Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson takes us on a journey through the life of a boy in rural Virginia and how it is expanded when he befriends the new girl, Leslie. The lives of both Jess and Leslie change dramatically due to their relationship and after an untimely death of Leslie, the lives of many others in relationship to Jess who succumbs to the loss of his best friend change as well. 

Two main settings for this book are; the rural Virginia and Terabithia. The setting is a rural area in the state of Virginia where the children live, work on the farm, and attend school. The issues of bullying, friendship, sibling, family are all of realistic value. It is not until Jess and Leslie build Terabithia out of their imaginations that the story becomes unrealistic, yet remains realistic as children often use their imaginations in this way.

This book rates five out of five. The story of friendship family, love and loss or major components of a book that can win the hearts of many young and old. Only forty years old, but I deem it a classic as it is timeless within its relatability in the past, present, and future.

For this book I would use a QAR reading strategy to build comprehension among the students. There are a lot of ideas, literary elements, vocabulary packaged within this book it would be beneficial to assist the students in unpacking it all or some of it based upon the maturity level. Providing questions for students to use pre- reading and then ignite discussion once the entire book or each chapter has been read.

In a classroom setting I believe a think aloud while reading the book to students to assist them with the overall comprehension of the story as the pictures in the book are black and white and difficult to see across a classroom. 

Until next time…

The One With What I Read • The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl

A narrative from the girl who is highly against the act of hunting acts upon her emotions, through as she calls it her magical finger. Dahl brings a social issue into the life of a child in this humorous adventure. The main character and narrator, a highly opinionated eight- year old girl and the antagonists’ two neighborhood brothers. Supporting characters; Mr. & Mrs. Gregg’s and the ducks. The theme is the rights of people to own guns and make game out of shooting innocent animals.

Although this story is placed in a neighborhood similar to those of us reading, the girl is in possession of a magical finger that creates havoc among those who in her eyes, deserve a lesson.

I rate this book a three out of five stars. I am not enthusiastic of the overall plot against hunting. I am sure there are many families that disagree with such ideas. This would be a good book to place in a classroom library to be available to kids who wish to read a new idea, but I would do so with caution in our neighborhoods!

In a classroom setting I believe a think aloud while reading the book to students to assist them with the overall comprehension of the story as the pictures in the book are black and white and difficult to see across a classroom. I think this will also assist children in their thinking in regards to the social issue of guns and hunting.

With older children I would use an anticipation guide, pulling background information about hunting and guns; as well as, their opinion of their own or their family in regards to these topics. Once the book has been read, I would check back with their ideas and see if anyone had some different views.

Until next time …

The One Where I Read ⚫ The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Alexander Kwame uses rhyme and rap to entice and engage the reader. The poems in this collection are medium in length, entertaining and speak to children in a way they are likely to relate. Most of the passages in The Crossover are about events that can happen in a child’s life; such as relationships with friends and family, basketball action on the court, middle school, race, sickness, and death. In “Girls,” the author shares a moment between his friend, a girl, and how his friend takes notice of her. This poem is a representation of the author’s ability to speak to middle school students (mostly boys), allowing them to relate with the author.

The author uses a variety of unique rhythms in his book. Some of the poems make you think of a basketball dribbling up and down as you read the words on the page. The author writes in free verse; this poetry is without a specific rhyme pattern or strict rhythm. He also uses concrete poetry to assist in his actions of words within the poems, helping readers to see the action in a book with no pictures.

The author uses onomatopoeias to describe the sounds and the actions of the basketball and the basketball players on the court; as well as the sounds he hears in his daily activities. Alexander has a great way of making the reader feel that he is talking to you and you are right there with him during these activities. He also uses hyperboles to create emphasis on a specific scenario or action. In “Okay, Dad,” he says, “Mom and JB have been talking your ear off all morning.” Exaggerating this specific situation tells us readers that these two were talking a lot towards another.

Alexander uses poetic-hip-hop to bring motion into his words, allowing his poetry to bounce off the page. His stories are short, to the point, and very relatable to today’s middle school boy. The themes of The Crossover are relationships, consequences of actions, coping with illness and dealing with death.

This book rates five out of five. I genuinely loved each poem and it is so very easy to read. I believe that boy or girl in my future upper elementary class that loves basketball and is hesitant to read, especially poetry, will love this book!

Until next time …

Why Do I Want to Teach Literature?

I have always had an answer, for why I want to be a teacher, but I have never considered the why behind teaching English and literature. I mean, I know that I want to to teach English, as I have a passion for reading and writing. But why?

Through my readings today and inspiration from both Burke and Beach (The English Teacher’s Companion Teaching Literature to Adolescents), I have come to my first of many answers to this question:

Literature is a story, a never-ending story that moves through time, the ages, changes, love, war, hate, indifferences, and more. Literature are the ideas to be considered and pondered until personal understanding is gained.Literature is taking the neverending story and applying its relevance to our own story and applying it to our very own story. As Jago states, “to making a living, making a life, and making a difference.”Literature is finding answers and seeking the truth and purpose. Adding to the story with our own opinions.Literature is taking your time to enjoy the story and a willingness to continue the story. Passing it on to others so they too will know, see, and understand. In hopes that the never-ending story goes on…

Why do I want to teach literature?  Teachers of Literature, English teachers are the force that drives the ideal that this never ending story will go on forever.

Why do you teach literature? Please share in the comments below!

Until next time..