The first round of book groups in fifth grade are well under way with the reading, writing and discussing of three books: Maniac Magee, Sahara Special and Eleven. Anne, Jane, Karolye and myself choose books to lead that we feel a deep connection to and ones that we know will lead to close investigation of literary aspects of a book such as character, theme and setting. In addition we utilize various reading strategies such as questioning, envisioning, connections and noting descriptive writing to elicit deep thinking, lively conversation and ultimately a transfer of skills not only to one's own reading and writing but also to thinking about ways characters deal with challenges in their own lives, that we as readers can think about applying to obstacles we might encounter. The main characters in each of these three books face personal challenges that lend themselves to thinking deeply about identity, family and friendships. We are all off to a great start in connecting our ideas about these characters to examples from the texts. An example of this is from a writing selection from a student reading Eleven. The topic to think and write about was to think about the perspective of one of the characters in the book.
She writes, "On page 102, I sort of understand how Caroline feels about only staying for a few weeks. In my opinion, Caroline has a soft side and a tough side. I can tell by the way tears come into her eyes. I feel sorry for her, because moving around a lot must be a real pain. If this were to happen to me, I would miss my friends and my house. I also think it might be interesting for me the first few times. ..."
This student not only wrote about the perspective of Caroline but also drew connections to her own life. I will continue to write about book groups at various times during the year.