The GiverWhy Read?

Ever had a kid tell you half-defiantly, “I don’t read”?  I’ve even had one who said, “I can read all right, but I won’t do it.”

Maybe they know we love challenges–they do bring rewards.  One new non-reader ended up finishing three books in his first two weeks–non-fiction books with lots of pictures.  My librarian knew boys.

One year, I had entire classes embrace reading.  While a teacher was on medical leave, I got students who could not spell–and most did not or could not read well.  For them, I chose Lois Lowry’s The Giver, a tale of a future without pain–no cold weather, no childbirth, no dead end careers, no old age. The cost was no excitement, no choices, and euthanasia.   Well, these kids hadn’t known there were books that you had to argue with!

When we were done, I gave them six choices for their next book.  They choose the darkest, Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic, a story of a Jewish girl inside a Nazi death camp.  They wanted to feel.

When kids learn in order to get a great job someday, it restricts their interests. These are the greater gifts from reading.

Analyze character’s actions–would you have done the same thing?  Would you have risked death to hide Anne Frank in your home?  Would you have accepted your aunt’s reasons for marrying a humorless Puritan?  Would you have stayed with the plane or tried to walk out?

Pain is bad enough, but it’s harder to cope if you believe life is singling you out for ill treatment. So the kids at school make fun of your shoes, you can’t hit a basket with a bat, much less a ball, and your getting weary of hiding your mom’s alcoholism from the world. You are not alone. Others have survived–and grown–from such challenges.

Before you suffer great pain, books can help you learn what causes it and how sufferers cope. What would it be like to lose a parent or a leg? How would it feel to be trapped in a avalanche or lost in a blizzard? What if your parents’ divorce or your brother takes his anger out on you? It happens. And people have not one reaction, but a string of them–and authors write of them.

We must endure much more than we can imagine–but we can be strong, at least sometimes, and learn to forgive ourselves for the others.

One for the Money, Two for the Show (Act I, Scene 3)

Scene 3

(At the ball. Musicians at stage right rear. Dancers in action. GUNDA, heavily jeweled, is left front. MARKUS and STEFAN talk left rear. LEA dances in with ULRICH. ) 

LEA: (Sees GUNDA. Stops dancing.) Why, Gunda, you’re looking lovely this evening. 

GUNDA: Of course. People expect it. 

LEA: Of course, dear.  Why you’ve been a beautiful maiden for decades, haven’t you? 

GUNDA: (To Ulrich.) If you can’t control your dog, you really should leave her at home. (Walks to stage left rear.) 

LEA: (Watches GUNDA. Turns to ULRICH.) Must be past her bedtime, poor old dear.

(LEA and ULRICH resume dancing. LEA stops stage center near KARINA.) 

LEA: Karina, so glad you are here tonight. 

KARINA: I’m sure. 

(MARKUS aproaches unnoticed.) 

LEA: I am so looking forward to your moving to Ritter House. 

KARINA. Really? 

LEA: We always have such a problem getting rid of the table scraps when you aren’t here. 

MARKUS: Lea, that’s enough. Excuse us, Ulrich, Karina. Lea and I must talk. 

(ULRICH and KARINA dance away.) 

MARKUS: I didn’t throw this ball so you could insult my guests. 

LEA: Well, what do you expect. I’m bored. You promised to introduce me to a tall, handsome duke-to-be. I certainly don’t see one. 

MARKUS: Hardly fitting when you’re so enthralled with Ulrich. 

LEA: Isn’t he handsome tonight? I know he wants to marry me, Markus. You must talk wth him tonight. 

MARKUS: So you don’t want to meet Stefan? 

LEA: It might be amusing. Let me see him. (MARKUS takes LEA’S arm and guides her.)  You can’t mean that small, brown creature? 

MARKUS: You behave. He’s seen us approaching. 

LEA: But he’s not handsome at all. 

MARKUS: Do this for me. (Reaches out to STEFAN.) Lea, allow me to introduce  my friend Stefan. 

LEA: No. No, I won’t allow it. (LEA walks off stage left.) 

(Lights dim.)

Introducing Adverbs


A way to introduce adverbs to students….

               Parts-of-speech qualify as abstract ideas—those theoretical things that you can’t taste, feel or point to.  They must be understood.

               It helps to think of them as a word’s job.  Just as I can be a teacher, bookkeeper, or writer at different times, a word can be a noun, verb, adjective or adverb at different times.  You have to look at what it is doing to know.

               Start with a simple phrase.  “The boy jumped quickly.” The job of the word “quickly” is to tell you how the boy jumped.  In “the boy jumped daily,” the word “daily” says when the boy ran.  Or you could say, “the boy jumped eastward,” and “eastward” would tell you where the boy jumped.  All three jobs–telling how, when and where—are adverb jobs. 

               “The boy jumped _______” is an adverb-generator.  If you need a list of words that can act as adverbs, just think of words that will fit in the blank.  List all you can in 60 or 90 seconds and you will have lots. 

               Kids can make such a list as young as 7.  Why do they have such trouble understanding that these are adverbs?  Perhaps because words that sit in the blank can be so different? 

               With several students I’d let the one who wrote the most words read his or her entire list—then have others read their four favorites. 

               You can use the lists to teach more about adverbs.

               Did a lot of your words end in –ly?  Well, a lot of words get –ly after their names when they become adverbs—quickly, slowly, wildly, constantly, wildly, happily.  Other words, however, don’t need –ly to make they change.

               Are some of your words familiar nouns?  Like “home” or “Monday”?  Well, these words have hired out as adverbs saying where or when.   

               And did you write some phrases?  If you use this adverb generator long enough, phrases like “in the air,” “for joy,” or even “over the moon” come to mind.  These are prepositional phrases–which have a connecting word followed by a noun—can do the job of an adverb. 

               Other phrases like “all day long” aren’t easy to categorize.  Just be assured if they tell you how, when or where the boy jumped, the phrase is acting as an adverb.

               Other adverb generators—

               The ship sailed ________.

               The girl laughed ________.

               The teacher stared _________.

               The clock fell __________.

               Adverb generators are a noun followed by an intransitive verb—a verb that cannot take an object.  Transitive verbs can be followed by a noun.  For example, the girl ran the business or the boy ran a race.  Linking verbs can be followed by a noun or adjective—mom was an actress or dad was happy.  

               It’s good to have students keep a list of adverbs on hand to use in mad-libs or in assignments on sentence variety.