Projects: December Reading Selections

We met yesterday to discuss November’s reading selections.  Both kids chose Bradbury’s Pedestrian for their projects, although Squirelflight drew an illustration to accompany the short tale, and A chose to write a 300-word epilogue exploring the institution to which the main character was taken.  I read all of the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” to them, complete with dramatic flair and pausing between major stanzas and parts in order to discuss what’s happening within the tale.  I left my friend’s house with a raw throat, but two kids who were very happy with the selections they’d read, and looking forward to the coming month.

December’s List:

I have to say, it’s fun not only to re-read these stories I enjoyed as a child, but to find new ones from favorite authors, and to discuss them with my group, especially since these two have radically different views from most adults in reading groups.  They also present their projects in ways I haven’t expected, although Squirelflight is definitely in the “art” category of preference, A. is taking some risks by going outside his normal field of approach, and it’s improving his writing in the process.

Projects: November Reading Selections

It’s rather late in the month, but my health and a busy schedule got in the way of our meeting across the first two weeks.  While both Squirelflight and A worked hard on their projects, I didn’t get to see A’s diorama of “Are You Digging on My Grave?” in person, though he sent me a video (I’ll see if he’ll post it on YouTube to share).  Since we live together, being my daughter and all, I did get a chance to see Squirelflight’s poster of  “How to Talk to Girls at Parties.”

Squirelflight's Movie Poster

Squirelflight’s Movie Poster

We had our discussion over speaker phone, with both of them offering their thoughts about the various stories. Then I introduced the November reading selections, which, with the exception of the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” are fairly short.  With any luck and a touch of determination, they could breeze through most of the readings a lot faster.  Here’s the list this month:

After December, I have a few gaps in my reading selection plans for certain months.  Compelling suggestions welcome!

For quick reference, here are the links to previous months’ reading selections:

October 2010

Projects: October Reading Selections

Our two eldest seemed to really enjoy the readings given them.  Squirelflight chose to do her project on “The Lady or the Tiger?” and A. did his work on “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”

We were supposed to meet last week, but our household came down with the flu, and weren’t able to make it to Seattle for our readers’ meeting.   Mystyrica told me that A. never does art projects, but he presented a poster with a collage for Walter Mitty and one of the scenes from the short story.  Squirelflight’s diorama showed her version of how she thought the story carried out–she answered the question “What did the princess choose?”  (Although her own choice was quite different when we discussed the story.)

After a presentation of projects, we went through each story and briefly touched on interpretations of the stories, asked each other questions, and discussed themes both within individual selections and across the group for the month.

At the end of our meeting, I gave them their new reading selections for October:

With Samhain (pronounced Sow-en in Gaelic, Sa-vin in Scottish Gaelic), or Halloween, coming up, I included those with darker imagery (Poe, Irving, Ellison), including the dark view of crossing Pan and any woodland god, as seen in “The Music on the Hill.”  However, not wanting to leave them with too much of a fright, I also added the Hardy poem and Gaiman’s famous short to bring a bit of lightheartedness to the mix.  At least I hope they do.  😉

For a special treat, send your little ones (or yourself) over to read several chapters of Catherynne M. Valente’s newest book coming out in May: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.  The last chapter was removed in anticipation of its publication, so for those of us not lucky enough to catch it, we’ll have to hold our breaths until May.  Also, if you’d like a little musical treat to go with your reading, visit S.J. Tucker’s site and listen to her song “September’s Rhyme” inspired by Valente’s new book.  (S.J. Tucker’s CDs “For The Girl in the Garden” and “Solace and Sorrow” are also direct musical interpretations of Valente’s Orphan’s Tales books.)

Projects: Reading Selections

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:

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!