Friday, February 5, 2010

The Business of Children's Books - On Titles and Reading Guides

Happy Friday, all!  This is my second post today.  Busy, busy.  First, a bit of business.  Thus far, I have been trying to distinguish craft-and-review blog entries from book-biz entries by title (The Business of Children's Books plus subhead and a #).  I am giving up as the numbering and subhead thing is just becoming a project of its own.  I'll try to keep the titles somewhat helpful and will add labels.

So, returning to the READING GUIDES (and please note that the HEADING TO NYC blog entry actually contains the introductory material for this topic)...

Here are a FOUR TIPS for writing DISCUSSION QUESTIONS.

1. Be wary of plot-based questions.  While this is useful for teachers trying to ensure chapters are being read, it is NOT fun for young readers and feels like busywork (more school, not reading fun). I recommend asking plot-related questions in terms of theme.  For example: "In Libba Bray's A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY, how many times do Gemma and her friends visit the Realms?  Compare and contrast these visits.  Do they evolve, shift?  How do the characters change as a result of each visit?"

2. Encourage readers to connect their own experience to the story.  For example: "In the opening chapter of  Barry Linga's THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF FAN BOY AND GOTH GIRL, the narrator describes the social dynamics on his schoolbus.  Do his descriptions remind you of your own school bus scene?  Does having to ride the bus, versus driving/getting a ride, affect your social standing at school?  If you ride the bus to school, do you consider it a pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant experience?  Explain your answer."

3. Consider questions that will help students understand how literary techniques enrich the story while also identifying with the story.  For example, "In Louis Sachar's HOLES, what is unusual about the main character's name?  What is the author conveying to readers in the naming of his characters, and the descriptions of the way characters are given names?"

4. Bring in the outside world.  For example: "In LITTLE BROTHER by Cory Doctorow, the narrator is being closely monitored by his school and government.  Do similar monitoring systems exist in your world?  How might you relate the current issues regarding airport security to the way students are supervised in the world of the novel?  How do you feel a balance should be struck between security and privacy?  Cite examples from the story in your response."

Note that, depending on the genre (picturebook...MG...YA and everything in between), the balance between different types of questions changes.  Regardless, I encourage you to consider a variety of angles as you develop your question list.  Hopefully, this will give many types of readers opportunities to connect with the book.

2 comments:

SWK said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SWK said...

Okay, that's what I get for trying to remove a typo from my comment, above. Now it looks all mysterious. WHY did the author remove the post? WHAT deep, dark secret is she hiding? A spelling error :)