Welcome to the SchoolhouseTeachers.com Literature Class
March: When the Relatives Came
In this space, I am sharing some powerful techniques for reading comprehension and literary analysis that you can use with students of all ages, from kindergarten through high school. From month to month we are looking at a variety of great books—some written for adults, some for the smallest children—and showing how the same key questions can be asked of each one. Using these questions, you can lead a powerful discussion in your home or classroom almost automatically. You’ll be amazed at the results!
The lessons posted here are not designed to be used by the student as daily worksheets; rather, they are created to facilitate periodic (weekly or even daily) discussions between teacher and student. It’s this simple:
- First, the student reads the assigned title (listed below) over the course of several days or weeks.
- Then, teacher and student meet together to discuss the story, using the questions provided in this month’s lesson as a guide.
Our March 2014 lesson takes readers through Cynthia Rylant’s When the Relatives Came. This Caldecott Award-winning story uncovers man vs. man conflict when one family visits another family of relatives. After initial great warmth, conflicts ensure. Many will be able to relate!
You’ll answer questions for Socratic Discussion based on plot, setting, characters, conflicts, and themes. Pick up a copy at your local library, bookstore, or order one from many online retailers. Read the story with your child(ren). Then enjoy the discussion!
My story chart is posted for your learning and enjoyment as well.
Our February 2014 lesson (still archived, like all my lessons here) takes readers through author Deborah Hopkinson’s Apples to Oregon. My story chart is included for that discussion as well.
Editor’s note: Adam Andrews shares a wonderful article based on this children’s book in the new January/February issue of The Old Schoolhouse(R) Magazine. You can find Harriet, You’ll Drive Me Wild: Grace for the Dog Days of Winter on page 48. Enjoy!
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If you’re looking for worksheets, beware: fill-in-the-blank exercises may actually hinder a student from understanding literature! The goal of literary analysis is to interact with a story as a complete work of art, to understand its themes and carry on a “conversation” with its author. At The Center for Literature, we have found that worksheets rarely contribute to such understanding. On the contrary, they often bore and frustrate even the most willing students.
After you and your students have read the book, click to go inside for this month’s lessons in weekly sections.
Happy Reading! Mr. A
Adam Andrews is the Director of the Center for Literary Education, www.centerforlit.com. He received his BA in Political Economy and Christian Studies from Hillsdale College in 1991. He earned his MA in History from the University of Washington in 1994, and is currently a candidate for the PhD in History. He is writing his doctoral dissertation on the history of American higher education. Adam is a Henry Salvatori Fellow of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and was a founding board member of Westover Academy, a Classical Christian school in Colville, Washington until 2007. He is the assistant director of the American Council for Accredited Certification, a non-profit professional certifying body.