The Joys of Literature Circle

Brigid Fox | Brevard, NC
I feel so fortunate each day that I can find the deep beauty of the simple routines that the Acorn Class is engaged in. It is a reminder of how even the most basic of our actions has the power to enhance or detract from our daily experiences. It’s a good way to “check and balance,” making sure I am staying true to the Mountain Sun Mission Statement and practicing the core actions.

I was reflecting on the multifaceted nature of our Literature Circle, a beautiful time after lunch where teachers read to the children as they rest or do handcrafts. What is my goal for this time? What is the value that the children can gain? Are there areas needing reconsideration? These sorts of questions are absolutely part of the planning process for all of our work, but they only open the door to the real treat a lesson can bring. This is the hidden curriculum.

What do the Acorns get from literature circle? The main goal is to give them a period of relaxation within an enriching framework. There is occasional conversation that generally checks for their understanding. They are asked to “find a place of their own” and bring something that will support their efforts to focus on themselves and the story.

Ahh, now the beauty of the time… The huge exhale that they feel as they begin the second half of their day; the sparks of interest that fly about when they meet a new character; the image of the author writing such a fascinating story; the connections made to animals, plants, magical creatures, places, and feelings; the “hanging on the edge of my seat” anticipation; the understanding of story structure: plot, rising action, peak, conclusion, theme; the details that provide the visual in their mind; the subtle change to their art work that reflects an element in the story; the ability to focus themselves while in a large group; respect for one another; engaging in but not monopolizing the experience; vocabulary; the concept of reading for enjoyment; cultural mores in places different than their own; new perspectives. I am sure I could continue listing for a very long time!

We have been reading “Wind in the Willows,” by Kenneth Grahame. It has stories within stories and provides a wonderful opportunity to experience the Edwardian English countryside through the journeys of a number of kindly country critters, Mole, Ratty, Toad, Badger, etc. When I begin this book with the class, I note to the children that even though it is written in English, it is sometimes hard to read and understand because of the differences in our times. Indeed, it has a rich vocabulary. The children are fascinated by the depth and identifiable characteristics of each of the animals and their relationships within the tales. The adventures are quite unpredictable and entertaining to them as well. The animals are tied to nature in a way that makes sense to the children. As we watch rain come down, we can understand why Ratty and Mole long to be cozy in their home. The dangers that Toad engages in are wild and stir excitement, yet they are at a safe distance from the children – he is a toad afterall.

You might ask your children about what they are reading during literature circle. Follow their conversation with questions that keep them considering the story such as, “who is your favorite character?” “does he/she have any enemies or friends?” “what do the animals fear?” “what are the animals seeking?” etc. I know I would love to hear their answers.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.