In my search for a book I used in middle school, it surprised me to realize how many of my favorite short stories might never be read by our children unless we taught it to them. Why this never occurred to me after years of private schools wherein we had compilation composition books filled with short stories, essays, and poetry all in one, I don’t know. Perhaps, though, I remember now because I had contacted my former middle school in search of information from those people that had remained best in my eyes.
So, with inspiration late Sunday night, and motivation, I spent my Labor Day planning out a reading selections books for our two eldest in our group. It’s far from a new concept in teaching: they each get a few reading selections each month. From those selections, they pick their favorite (after reading and considering all of them), and then decide on a project inspired by the story, essay, or poem.
The projects can be almost anything: a movie poster, a continuation of/epilogue for the story, a biography or obituary for a character, a comparison of the story vs. its movie counterpart (where possible), a diorama, an analysis, a poem, a play, etc. The nature of the project is up to them, as is keeping themselves on task.
At the end of the month, we’ll get together, present projects with explanations, and then have a group discussion about all the reading selections. At that time, I’ll give them the next month’s picks, and they can start anew.
September’s Selections Are:
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber
- The Lady, or the Tiger? by Frank Stockton
- The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
- The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas by Ursula K. LeGuin
I wish I could say after a day’s work I had all of the year planned out, but I will say I made a good start of it. The rest of the calendar year is planned, and a few months into 2010 as well. This is, of course, a supplemental to the core subjects on which they’re already working. My daughter will continue to be frog hopping her way between fiction books I recommend and ones she’s selected herself, and she’ll still have composition to do both in a standardized workbook and with me, but this, I think teaches more than reading comprehension.
The stories, poems, and essays I’m choosing teach about the magic of the written word, the elegance of a well-crafted piece, and new perspectives and methods of critical analysis.
Though I have many options for readings over the coming months, I welcome ideas and suggestions, and if all goes well, I’ll post each month’s reading list for others that want ideas.
Be well and happy reading!