Literature

The Hidden Messages in Children’s Fairy Tales

September 27th, 2014  |  Published in Literature

Revisiting kids’ books in adulthood can yield all sorts of weird and wonderful subtexts, some more obvious than others… How could Dr Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas be anything other than a parable of consumerism? Similar close readings have rendered the Paddington Bear books fables about immigration and Babar the Elephant an endorsement of French colonialism…The Very Hungry Caterpillar [is] the tale of one creature’s obsessive-compulsive quest to fill a hole that can’t be filled, or a prose poem about demonic possession.” Hephzibah Anderson

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

The Very Hungry Caterpillar By Eric Carle. Photo- Wikipedia

The Very Hungry Caterpillar By Eric Carle. Photo- Wikipedia

Excerpt : The hidden messages in children’s books  By Hephzibah Anderson- BBC

As a child many of my favourite books had food as a theme. One in particular told the story of a boy who helped save his local burger bar by becoming a gastro-sleuth to track down a lost secret ingredient. Long after losing track of the book and forgetting its title, I found myself in Edinburgh to interview Alexander McCall Smith. He was already the mega-selling author of The No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, but years earlier, he had published a few children’s books. There among them on a shelf was The Perfect Hamburger. It was my book. Except that it wasn’t – not really. While burgers do indeed feature in lip-smacking detail, this time it was clear to me that The Perfect Hamburger is actually a tale of corporate greed and the fate of small businesses forced to compete with big chains.

The Perfect Hamburger by Alexander McCall Smith

The Perfect Hamburger by Alexander McCall Smith

 How could Dr Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas be anything other than a parable of consumerism?  It’s easy to poke fun at some of these more outlandish readings. Could they perhaps be the products of parents so addled by a text that, following their umpteenth nightly recital, the words start acting like one of those magic-eye images? Stare at them long enough and sense will materialise. Or nonsense. How else could a 22-page picture book like The Very Hungry Caterpillar yield capitalist, Christian, feminist, Marxist, queer and anti-liberal messages?

 The Uses of Enchantment explains the therapeutic importance of fairy tales in children’s education…So-called children’s literature has plenty to offer adults, too argues Dr Sheldon Cashdan, professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. As he explains in his book The Witch Must Die: The Hidden Meaning of Fairy Tales, these stories enable kids to see the struggle between good and bad – a struggle that they feel within themselves – acted out on the page, with good prevailing and the witch meeting an invariably gruesome end.

Babar the Elephant By Jean de Brunhoff. Photo BBC

Babar the Elephant By Jean de Brunhoff. Photo BBC

Paddington Bear by Michael Bond. Photo- Goodreads

Paddington Bear by Michael Bond. Photo- Goodreads

These battles persist throughout life. “Notions of greed, of wanting more than you actually need – you can see this in the bonuses of hedge fund managers and [people who have] houses with five bathrooms. Or the subtle, maybe not so subtle, ways that people lie – dating and telling things that aren’t exactly true, fudging their income tax returns.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours. 

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson)  and access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing. 

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions

Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Have students  examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article.  

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic.

Pre-reading Organizer By Scholastic.

II. While Reading Tasks

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Map for assistance. 

  1. As a child many of my favorite books had food as a theme.
  2. The boy in the story was a gastro-sleuth.
  3. Revisiting kids’ books in adulthood can yield wonderful subtexts.
  4. This is is  a parable of consumerism.
  5. It’s easy to poke fun at some of these more outlandish readings.
  6. Some parents are addled by a text.
  7. Such layered meanings are crucial to the longevity of stories.
  8. The story is about children’s regression and separation anxiety. 
  9. These stories enable kids to see the struggle between good and bad –  with good prevailing.
  10. These battles persist throughout life.
Word Map Education Oasis.

Word Map Education Oasis.

Reading Comprehension

Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word or phrase to complete the sentences taken from the article. They are to choose from the options presented.

  1. As a child many of my favorite books had food as a thyme/theme.
  2. I found myself/me in Edinburgh.
  3. It was my book/brook.
  4. It’s easy to poke fun at some of these more outland/outlandish readings.
  5. This is a very simple/sample story, but simplicity is not the same as a lack of depth.
  6. Sometimes meanings seem hid/hidden because we’re too caught up in the story.
  7. So-called children’s literature has plenty to offer/off adults.
  8. It’s only as adults that we make the mistake of thinking that children’s literature is essentially escapist/escape.
  9. These stories are about eternal/eternity  human strengths and weaknesses.
  10. The hidden natural/nature of their messages is crucial to their magic.

 Grammar Focus

Prepositions

Directions: The following sentences are from the article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices presented.

Choose one of the Prepositions:  at, on, of, to, in, as,

  1. One story in particular told the story___a boy who helped save his local burger bar.
  2. Long after losing track___the book and forgetting its title, I found myself___ Edinburgh___ interview Alexander McCall Smith.
  3.  There among them___ a shelf was The Perfect Hamburger.
  4. It was clear ___me that The Perfect Hamburger is actually a tale___corporate greed.
  5. It’s easy to poke fun___ some of these more outlandish readings.
  6. We might not be aware___such adult messages when we read books___kids.
  7. So-called children’s literature has plenty___offer adults.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

Directions:  Have students use this advanced organizer from Write Design to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main idea and points from the article. 

 

Main idea chart By Write Design

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

1. The following  two statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each one, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group. 

“It’s easy to poke fun at some of these more outlandish readings. Could they perhaps be the products of parents so addled by a text that, following their umpteenth nightly recital, the words start acting like one of those magic-eye images? Stare at them long enough and sense will materialize. Or nonsense.”

 “There are some exquisite picture books that tackle existential issues like death and sadness head on… Just because we might not be aware of such adult messages when we read books as kids, doesn’t mean we aren’t absorbing them. However far this kind of ‘message seems to leap out at the adult reader, it is probably closer to the truth to say that the message has always been there but the knowledge that allows it to be recognized has not.”

 2. Did you have a favorite fairy tale that you liked to read when you were young? Provide the name of the story and your reasons for liking it then. Do you still like this story? Why or why not?

3. In your opinion what are the most important points of this article?

3-2-1-Writing

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned from the article, two things they did not understand in the article, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class. 

 ANSWER KEY

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Maya Angelou: A Legend Leaves Us

May 31st, 2014  |  Published in Literature

There are many wonderful adjectives used to describe Maya Angelou, intelligent, beautiful,  powerful, creative, articulate, and courageous. But mere words cannot express all that she was and how much she’ll be missed.

MAYA ANGELOU- April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014.

MAYA ANGELOU- April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.

Excerpt:  Legendary author Maya Angelou dies at age 86 By F. Karimi and A. Fantz, CNN

A literary voice revered globally for her poetic command and her commitment to civil rights has fallen silent. Maya Angelou died at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on Wednesday, said her literary agent, Helen Brann.

I know Why The Caged Bird Sings By Maya Angelou.

I know Why The Caged Bird Sings By Maya Angelou.

The 86-year-old was a novelist, actress, professor, singer, dancer and activist. In 2010, President Barack Obama awarded her the Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor.One of Angelou’s most revered books was I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Writer Julian Mayfield is said to have described the autobiography as a work of art which eludes description… In 1958, Angelou become a part of the Harlem Writers Guild in New York and played a queen in “The Blacks,” an off-Broadway production by French dramatist Jean Genet.

Affectionately referred to as Dr. Angelou, the professor never went to college. She has more than 30 honorary degrees and taught American studies for years at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.

Gather Together In My Name By Maya Angelou

Gather Together In My Name By Maya Angelou

I created myself, she has said. I have taught myself so much. Angelou spoke at least six languages and worked at as a newspaper editor in Egypt and Ghana… The famous poet got into writing after a childhood tragedy that stunned her into silence for years. From the silence, a louder voice was born.

Her list of friends is as impressive as her illustrious career. Talk show queen Oprah Winfrey referred to her as “sister friend.” She counted Martin Luther King Jr., with whom she worked during the civil rights movement, among her friends. King was assassinated on her birthday.

In an interview with CNN in January 2009, just days before President Obama was inaugurated for his first term, she gave her thoughts about the United States’ election of its first black president.

Maya Angelou  was awarded The Medal of Freedom by President Obama.

Maya Angelou was awarded The Medal of Freedom by President Obama.

Seeing Obama about to take office made her feel proud, she said.

“I’m excited. I’m hopeful. I’m talking all the time to people, and sometimes I’ve really said it so many times I wonder if I’m coming off like a piece of tape recording, but I’m very proud to be an American.” Read more

Maya Angelou wrote the poem On The Pulse of The Morning for Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, in 1993.NYT Learning Network.

Maya Angelou wrote the poem On The Pulse of The Morning for Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993. NYT Learning Network.

4

Maya Angelou  April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about Maya Angelou.  Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. The UIE brainstorming chart (sample) for brainstorming the meanings. Brainstorming chart by UIE copy

II. While Reading Tasks

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and the Enchanted Learning Word Chart for assistance. 

  1.  A literary voice revered globally for her poetic command has fallen silent.
  2. Ms. Angelou’s autobiography is  a work of art which eludes description.
  3. She has more than 30 honorary degrees.
  4. Angelou grew up in the then-racially segregated town of Stamps, Arkansas.
  5. Before President Obama was inaugurated she gave her thoughts about the United States’ election of its first black president.
  6. “In 30 or 40 years, (the election) will not be considered so incredibly important.
  7. There will be other people in those next three or four decades who will run for the presidency.
  8. Angelou spoke in the way that she came to be famous for, each sentence a crescendo of emotion.
  9. I’m very proud to be an American.
  10. Her work on Broadway has been nominated for Tony Awards.

Color Vocabualry Map by Enchanted Learning

Reading Comprehension

 Fill-ins

Directions: Place students in groups and after they have read the entire article, have them complete the following paragraphs taken from the article. They can use the words and terms from the list provided, or provide their own terms. They are to find the meanings of any new vocabulary.

Angelou spent her early years studying ______ in San Francisco but dropped out at age 14, instead becoming the city’s first ___cable car conductor.

Angelou later returned to ___to finish her diploma and gave ___a few weeks after graduation. 

While the 17-year-old single mother ___to support her son, she ___a ____for music and dance, and toured Europe in  ___in the opera production “Porgy and Bess.” In 1957, she recorded her first album, “Miss Calypso.”

In___, Angelou become a part of the ___in New York and played a queen in “The Blacks,” an off-Broadway production by French dramatist Jean Genet.

Affectionately referred to as___, the professor never went to college. She has more than ___and taught American studies for years at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem.

“I created myself,” she has said. “I have taught myself so much.”

Angelou spoke at least ___and worked at as a newspaper editor in Egypt and Ghana. It was during that time that she wrote “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” published in___, the first in a series of ___books.

Word List

Harlem Writers Guild, high school, six languages, autobiographical, African-American female, 1969, dance and drama, 30 honorary degrees, 1958,

birth, Dr. Angelou, the mid-1950s, waited tables, passion, acquired,

 Grammar Focus

Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical  error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I.

  1. A literary voice revered globally for her poetic command.
  2. Maya Angelou died on her home in North Carolina.
  3. President Barack Obama awarded her the Medal of Freedom.

II.

  1. Angelou spend her early years studying dance and drama.
  2. Angelou later returned to high school to finish her diploma.
  3. In 1958, Angelou become a part of the Harlem Writers Guild in New York .

III.

  1. She has much than 30 honorary degrees.
  2. Angelou was born April 4, 1928.
  3. The famous poet got into writing after a childhood tragedy.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article. 

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

Maya Angelou made the following statements. Rephrase them  into your words:

  1. “I want to write so well that a person is 30 or 40 pages in a book of mine … before she realizes she’s reading,” Angelou said.” Seeing Obama about to take office made her feel proud, she said.
  2. “I’m excited. I’m hopeful. I’m talking all the time to people, and sometimes I’ve really said it so many times I wonder if I’m coming off like a piece of tape recording, but I’m very proud to be an American.”
  3. In 30 or 40 years, (the election) will not be considered so incredibly important. … There will be other people in those next three or four decades who will run for the presidency — some women, some native American, some Spanish-speaking, some Asian. We’re about to grow up in this country.”
  4. “Our country needs us all right now to stand up and be counted. We need to try to be great citizens. We are necessary in this country, and we need to give something — that is to say, go to a local hospital, go to the children’s ward and offer an hour twice a month that you can give them reading children’s stories or poetry…go to an old folks’ home and read the newspaper to somebody. Go to your church or your synagogue or your mosque, and say, ‘I’d like to be of service. I have one hour twice a month.”

In groups choose one of the following topics to research and present to the class:

The Biography of Maya Angelou

The Presidential Medal of Freedom

Book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

Poem, On the Pulse of Morning by Maya Angelou

3-2-1-Writing Activity

Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down at least three new ideas they’ve learned about_____ from the reading. Ask them to write down two things they did not understand in the reading. Then have them write one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class. Note: For the lower levels allow more time for this writing activity. 

IV. Listening Activity

Video Clip: The Revelation That Changed Dr. Maya Angelou’s Life – Super Soul Sunday – Oprah Winfrey Network

While Listening Activities

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video. As students listen to the video if a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. Oprah asked Maya Angelou, “Where do you go for comfort?”
  2. Maya Angelou responded with the word “Church.”
  3. Oprah asked Maya Angelou, “What is the name of your church?
  4. Maya Angelou responded, “ the Christian Church.”
  5. Maya first discovered the Unity Church in her 20s.
  6. Her friend invited her to a service.
  7. Founded in 1889, the Unity Church is a Christian movement that emphasizes affirmative prayer and education as a path to spirituality.
  8. Maya took an online course in Unity.
  9. Maya wanted to become a member.
  10. The line from the book Maya mentions is “God loves me”.

Video Link

ANSWER KEY: Maya Angelou

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Amy Tan: More History and Family Secrets

November 24th, 2013  |  Published in Education, Literature

Author Amy Tan is especially known for her best seller The Joy Luck Club which was also a major film. Tan’s other best selling novels include The Kitchen God’s Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter’s Daughter, and Saving Fish from Drowning. Her themes usually explore the relationships between mothers and daughters, historical connections to ancestors, comparisons of  Chinese and American cultures, along with  mysterious family secrets.  Her latest novel The Valley of Amazement brings the same elements of  historical information and mystery as her  previous books.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan. Amazon

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan. Amazon

Excerpt: Amy Tan’s Latest: Mothers, Daughters… By Jane Ciabattari NPR Books

“Family secrets, life-changing betrayals and the paradox of wondering about the old country while belonging to the new are at the heart of Amy Tan’s work. She enthralled readers of her phenomenally successful first novel, The Joy Luck Club (1989), with the interlocking stories of four Chinese-born mothers and their four California-born daughters… 

Amy Tan and photo of her grandmother. Photo- ABC news

Amy Tan and photo of her grandmother. Photo- ABC news

Thanks to a family mystery — the discovery of a photograph that raises the possibility that her own grandmother might have been a courtesan in China early in the last century — Tan focuses her new novel on the elegant and trend-setting first-class “houses of flowers” for which Shanghai’s international zone was once known.

Photo- Newsfiber

Photo- Newsfiber

The novel opens with Violet Minturn at 7, a “thoroughly American girl in race, manners, and speech,” who lives with her mother, Lulu Minturn. By taking a child’s perspective, Tan creates a sense of innocence, even wonder, at the goings-on in Hidden Jade Path. Tan sets the stage with sumptuous furnishings. As a child, Violet discovers Lu Shing’s landscape painting, “The Valley of Amazement,” among Lulu’s treasures. 

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Amazon

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Amazon

Some three-quarters of the way through the novel, Tan loops back to tell the story of Lulu’s early years…By structuring the novel in this manner, Tan makes poignant how the fates of Lulu and Violet mirror each other in uncanny ways, and builds to her startling conclusion.” Read more…

FROM ESL VOICES:

 

Happy Thanksgiving Photo- PSD SuppliesPhoto: PSD Supplies

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.

Objective: Students will read the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through discussions, and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

Stimulating background knowledge

Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  the author Amy Tan, her novels, and China.  Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the text and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article. Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Students can use this great Brainstorming chart from Kootation.comGreat Brainstorming chart from Kootation.com

II. While Reading Activities
Vocabulary

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart by Freeology for assistance.

  1. Family secrets and the paradox of wondering about the old country are at the heart of Amy Tan’s work.
  2. She enthralled readers with The Joy Luck Club.
  3. Tan followed up with equally enduring portraits of fierce immigrant mothers.
  4. Tan focuses her new novel on the elegant “houses of flowers”.
  5. By taking a child’s perspective, Tan creates a sense of innocence.
  6. Tan sets the stage with sumptuous furnishings.
  7. Tan gives us a cast of finely drawn and idiosyncratic minor characters.
  8. After a series of wrenching betrayals, Lulu strikes back.
  9. Violet and her mother face ominous crossroads.
  10. She dallies with a smarmy American.

 vocab Freeology

Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading. If a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. Accordig to the article the novel opens with 10-year-old Violet Minturn.
  2. Violet’s father is a Chinese diplomat.
  3. Violet’s mother had a happy childhood.
  4. Violet’s father, Lu Shing, met her mother in San Francisco.
  5. We learn that Violet’s father was from a little town in China.
  6. Violet discovered Lu Shing’s landscape painting, “The Valley of Amazement” when she was little.
  7. Lulu is lazy and rich.
  8. In the novel Violet was abandoned by her mother.
  9. Within the novel Tan loops back to tell the story of Lulu’s early years.
  10. LuLu meets an American who helps her.

Grammar Focus

Structure and Usage

Directions: The following groups of sentences are from the article. One of the sentences in each group contains a grammatical error. Students are to identify the sentence (1, 2, or 3 ) from each group that contains the grammatical error.

I

  1. Amy Tan enthralled readers with the novel The Joy Luck Club.
  2. Tan created portraits of fierce immigrant mother.
  3. There were courtesans in early China.

II

  1. The novel creates romance and illusion.
  2. From a child’s perspective, Tan creates a sense of innocence.
  3. Tan sets the stage by sumptuous furnishings.

III

  1. Was the painting meant to depict a feeling of hope?
  2. Violet and her mother reinvent herself.
  3. Tan gives a vivid picture of Violet’s journey.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

Graphic Organizers: Finding the main idea

Directions: Have students use this colorful graphic organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist them with discussing or writing about the main points from the article.

WH-organizer from Enchanted Learning

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

  1. Amy Tan’s  novels  revolve around themes such as difficult mother-daughter relationships, cultural comparisons between America and China, and family secrets.  In your opinion, why are these topics so interesting to people?
  2. Which age group do you think read Tan’s novels?  Provide reasons why.
  3. Which of the themes in Tan’s novels do you find most interesting? Why?
  4. If you could write a novel, what topics would you choose and why?

IV. Listening Activity 

Video: Amy Tan Discusses her new novel  “The Valley of Amazement” with “CBS This Morning”.

“Best-selling author Amy Tan has written “The Valley of Amazement” about the world of high-class courtesans in Shanghai. Tan joins the “CBS This Morning” co-hosts to discuss her new book and what she uncovered about her own family during the research.”

 While Listening Activities

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video.  As students listen to the video if  a statement is true they mark it T.  If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. Amy Tan’s books have sold more than 5 million copies world wide
  2. Her books have been translated into  35 languages.
  3. Tan found a photo of her grandmother which led her to write this novel.
  4. Amy Tan’s grandmother was dressed as a courtesan in the photo.
  5. A courtesan  was a woman who courted men in high-class brothels in Shanghai.
  6. In the novel the protagonist Violet is half American and half Chinese.
  7. According to Tan, the courtesan’s life was one of beauty and brutality.
  8. During this era, Chinese women were restricted in general.
  9. Tan wants readers to understand the book is about mothers and daughters, and how people are shaped by their circumstances or by choices they make.

Post-Listening Activities

Questions for Discussion

Directions:Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.

1. After listening to this video has your personal idea of Amy Tan changed in any way?   If yes, describe in what way.  If no, describe your original opinion.

2. Did  you agree with everything the Tan said? Discuss which comments you agreed with and which ones you tended not to agree with. Explain why.

3.  With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask the speakers.

ANSWER KEY: Amy Tan, The Valley of Amazement 

 

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J. D. Salinger’s Secrets Revealed…Maybe

September 8th, 2013  |  Published in Literature

J. D. Salinger is most remembered for his wonderful novel “Catcher in the Rye”.  Salinger was not only known as  a literary legend, but also as  a man who cherished his privacy.  According to the trailer for the new film about the famous author,  the biggest secrets from Salinger’s life will finally be revealed to the public, although his son Matthew Salinger is skeptical that the public will learn anything “secret” about his famous father.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.

The mysterious J.D. Salinger.

The mysterious J.D. Salinger.

Excerpt: Film on Salinger Claims More Books Are Coming, By  M. Cieply and J. Bosman, New York Times

J. D. Salinger may not be done publishing after all, according to claims in a new film and book set for release next week.

Mr. Salinger, who died in 2010 at the age of 91, has been known for a distinguished but scant literary oeuvre that was capped by the enormous success of his 1951 novel, The Catcher in the Rye. But a forthcoming documentary and related book, both titled “Salinger,” include detailed assertions that Mr. Salinger instructed his estate to publish at least five additional books — some of them entirely new, some extending past work — in a sequence that he intended to begin as early as 2015.

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Wikipedia.

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Wikipedia.

The new books and stories were largely written before Mr. Salinger assigned his output to a trust in 2008, and would greatly expand the Salinger legacy.

One collection, to be called “The Family Glass,” would add five new stories to an assembly of previously published stories about the fictional Glass family, which figured in Mr. Salinger’s “Franny and Zooey” and elsewhere, according to the claims, which surfaced in interviews and previews of the documentary and book last week.J D Salinger“Uncover the Mystery but Don’t Spoil the Secrets!”

Another would include a retooled version of a publicly known but unpublished tale, “The Last and Best of the Peter Pans,” which is to be collected with new stories and existing work about the fictional Caulfields, including “Catcher in the Rye.” 

Matthew Salinger, who is Mr. Salinger’s son, and shares responsibility for the Salinger estate with Colleen O’Neill, the author’s widow, declined to discuss plans or the book and film. He said Ms. O’Neill, who did not respond directly to a separate query, would also decline to comment.

In an interview earlier this year, Matthew Salinger said he was skeptical that the planned book and documentary would deepen public understanding of his father, who, he said, for decades had confined his intimate dealings to a small circle of seven or eight people.

Even in old age Salinger never liked being photographed.1988. NYBooks.

Even in old age Salinger never liked being photographed.1988. NYBooks.

The documentary is directed by Shane Salerno, a filmmaker who spent nine years researching and filming the movie that is set for release by the Weinstein Company on Sept. 6, and will air later on PBS in the American Masters series. The companion book, co-written by David Shields, is to be published by Simon & Schuster on Sept. 3.

The book and film have been marketed with the promise of revelations about Mr. Salinger, whose penchant for privacy became a hallmark.”

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.

Objective: Students will read the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through discussions, and writing.

I. Pre-Reading Activities

 Predictions

Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Ask students to read the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Based on these sources,  ask students to write a paragraph describing J.D. Salinger .

II. While Reading Activities

Vocabulary

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary or thesaurus for assistance. Have students use the Word organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist them with new vocabulary. Color Vocabualry Map by Enchanted Learning

  1. Mr. Salinger, has been known for a distinguished but scant literary oeuvre.
  2. There is a forthcoming documentary about Salinger.
  3. Mr. Salinger instructed his estate to publish at least five additional books.
  4. There are previously published stories about the fictional Glass family.
  5. Another  publication would include a retooled version of  the story.
  6. For decades, those in touch with Mr. Salinger have said that he had continued to write assiduously, though he stopped publishing.
  7. Matthew Salinger said he was skeptical that the  film would deepen public understanding of his father.
  8. The film and book provide a somewhat unconventional, tour through the life of an author.
  9. For Mr. Salerno, the simultaneous release of both film and book culminate a quest.
  10. Salinger is going to have a second act said Mr. Salerno. “There’s no precedent for this.”

 Reading Comprehension

True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the following statements from the reading.  If  a statement is true they mark it T.  If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. Mr. Salinger  died in 2012.
  2. Salinger had a happy childhood.
  3. His first wife was American.
  4. Both the documentary and book are titled “Salinger”.
  5. The new books and stories were largely written before Mr. Salinger assigned his output to a trust in 2008.
  6. One collection, is to be called “The Family Plastic”.
  7. Salinger was a known democrat.
  8. Matthew Salinger, is Mr. Salinger’s son.
  9. Matthew Salinger has 3 children.
  10. J. D. Salinger confined his intimate dealings to a small circle of seven or eight people.

 Grammar Focus

Sentence Scramble

Directions:  The following sentences from the article are scrambled. Have students unscramble each sentence. Students can find the original sentences in the reading to check their work.

  1. One collection, to be called “The Family Glass,” would add five new stories to an assembly of previously published stories.
  2. “He did rely on some anonymous sources, and I’ve talked to him about that,” said Mr. Karp.
  3.  J. D. Salinger may not be done publishing after all, according to claims in a new film and book set for release next week.
  4. The new books and stories were largely written before Mr. Salinger assigned his output to a trust in 2008, and would greatly expand the Salinger legacy.
  5. For decades, those in touch with Mr. Salinger have said that he had continued to write assiduously, though he stopped publishing.

III. Post Reading Tasks

Reading Comprehension Check

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

Who or What is the article about?

Where does the action/event take place?

When does the action/event take place?

Why did the action/event occur?

How did the action/event occur?

Discussion/Writing Exercise

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. Afterwards, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the following discussion topics.

  1. J.D.Salinger was known as a recluse. Provide several reasons why some famous people might want to be left out of the public’s eye.
  2. Can you think of other famous people who kept their lives private?  Include famous people in your country.
  3. The article states,” For decades, those in touch with Mr. Salinger have said that he had continued to write assiduously, though he stopped publishing after a long story…” Why would he continue to write stories and not publish them?
  4. If your were a famus writer, would you prefer to stay in the public’s eye, or keep your life private as J.D. Salinger? Provide reasons for your answer.

IV. Listening Activity   

Video ClipRemembering J.D. Salinger on Charlie Rose with Adam Gopnick from the New Yorker Magazine. 

Talk show host Charlie Rose and  author Adam Gopnick  discuss J.D. Salinger’s novels.

While Listening Activities
True /False/NA-Statements

Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video. As students listen to the video if a statement is true they mark it T. If the statement is  not applicable, they mark it NA. If the statement is false they mark it F and provide the correct answer.

  1. J.D. Salinger’s home was in Cornish New York when he died.
  2. Salinger was 72 years old when he died.
  3. Salinger changed American literature with his book Catcher in the Rye.
  4. Salinger had a wife and 3 kids.
  5. J.D. Salinger was also known as an open person.
  6. In 1953 salinger moved from New york to live in rural New Hampshire.
  7. Adam Gopnick read from Catcher in the Rye.
  8. J.D. Salinger also wrote the book The Glass Family Stories.
  9. J.D. Salinger was a soldier.
  10. Salinger stopped writing publicly when he was 66 years old.
  11. Gopnick read a description of Mrs. Glass
  12. Gopnick stated that Salinger’s writing tended to be spiritual.
  13. One critic stated that Salinger fell in love too deeply with his own characters.
  14. Gopnick was friends with Salinger.

V. Post-Listening Activities

Questions for Discussion

Directions:Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.

  1.  After listening to this video has your personal idea of J.D. Salinger changed in any way?   If yes, describe in what way.  If no, describe your original opinion.
  2. With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask the speakers, or Salinger if you had the opportunity.

ANSWER KEY: J.D. Salinger

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Revisiting Hemingway… In Audio

May 30th, 2013  |  Published in Education, Literature, Technology

We all love to read Ernest Hemingway’s novels, we even like to see some of his famous characters them portrayed on the silver screen by actors.  Now, we can listen to his classic stories on audio tapes. The set sells for $399 and is entitled, The full Ernest Hemingway Audio Library Collection.  Author  Paul Hendrickson provides a review of this collection.

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key.

Ernest Hemingway Audio Collection by Simon & Shuster. Amazon.

Ernest Hemingway Audio Collection by Simon & Shuster. Amazon.

Excerpt: An Audible Feast The Ernest Hemingway Audiobook Library, By P. Hendrickson, New York Times

“In a foreshortened life that didn’t make 62, Ernest Hemingway got a lot down on paper. If, by his middle and later years, enough of it seemed self-­parodying and sometimes even mawkish, great swaths of it remain immortal — and not just the early work, as some critics would claim. Hemingway changed the look and sound of American speech on the printed page.

Hemingway’s Boat- Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961 By  Paul Hendrickson. Good Reads.

Hemingway’s Boat- Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961 By
Paul Hendrickson. Good Reads.

But how did he get so much work done, the stories, the novels, the nonfiction (not to mention the thousands of letters he wrote), amid all that wasteful boozing and boasting, the depressions, the freakish accidents, the bouts of soaring blood pressure, the stark-awake and Seconal-stoked nights?

Ernest Hemingway. Photo: The Hemingway Project

Ernest Hemingway. Photo: The Hemingway Project

While that part of Hemingway is not untrue, it’s also the case that he was a far more tormented and sickly soul, both physically and emotionally, than we ever really guessed.

One answer to the riddle of how so many words were set down, in spite of everything, is that Hemingway kept struggling — I’d call it heroically — no matter where he was or what ailed him, to find his way to his writing table. The movable space could be on his fishing cruiser in the Gulf Stream, or in a hotel room in Spain while bombardments were going on outside the window, or under the mosquito netting of a sleeping tent in Africa.

Ernest Hemingway. Photo: The Hemingway Project

Ernest Hemingway. Photo: The Hemingway Project

The point is, he kept trying to work… “The Ernest Hemingway Audiobook Library” has been packaged now in a handsome, door-stopping black-and-white 15-disc, MP3 CD slipcase, narrated by celebrated actors and lesser-­known performers. The shebang adds up to a running time of about 133 hours. 

Ernest Hemingway. Photo: The Hemingway Project .

Ernest Hemingway. Photo: The Hemingway Project .

No, I didn’t listen to it all. I fished around, working toward things I have long worshiped and others about which I have felt minor embarrassment. I’ll acknowledge that these were the first audiobooks of any kind I have ever listened to in bulk. I’ve never wanted to be an audiophile of literature, certainly not of Hemingway. His sentences were in my head, my ear. I didn’t need people reading him to me, not even Donald Sutherland or Stacy Keach or William Hurt or Brian Dennehy. Or so I thought.

Ernest Hemingway. Photos: The Hemingway Project.

Ernest Hemingway. Photos: The Hemingway Project.

But a funny thing happened on the way to my expected disregard for these recordings, which in some cases are something like one-man old-time radio productions: I began to love the sound of Hemingway, if not exactly in new ways, at least in heightened ways…

Ernest Hemingway with sons Patrick (left) and Gregory (right)-not dated. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Ernest Hemingway with sons Patrick (left) and Gregory (right)-not dated. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Oh, yes, I have to tell you about the bonus track. It’s an interview with Hemingway’s surviving son, Patrick Hemingway, conducted in 2007 at his Montana home. “Mouse,” as his father nicknamed him, and who’ll be 85 in June, wishes to remember the good parts of his dad, naturally.  

Patrick Hemingway at PEN 2009. Photo JFK Library.

Patrick Hemingway at PEN 2009. Photo JFK Library.

I once got to go fishing on the Henrys Fork of the Snake River with him. He was generous, affectionate company, just as his father had described him fictionally in “Islands in the Stream.” He had a high and nearly constant squealy laugh — at least until we climbed into our waders and went fishing after dark, going single file and silently to the bank in the Idaho moonlight. This was in 1987, and he was about to turn 59.” Read more…

 

ESL Voices Lesson Plans for  stories by Hemingway: Indian Camp,  Soldier’s Home , Cat In The Rain

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, speaking and listening. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handouts (from this lesson) access to news article, and video.

Objective: Students will read the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on Ernest Hemingway’s works on video through discussions, and writing.

I. Pre-Reading

Stimulating background knowledge

Brainstorming

Directions: Place students in groups, ask students to think about what they already know about  Ernest Hemingway,  his stories, and audio books.  Next, have students look at the picture(s) in the article  and generate ideas or words that may be connected to the article.  Debrief as a class and list these ideas on the board. Have students use the brainstorming chart by Very Novel.com.

Brainstorming chart by Very Novel.com

 

II. While Reading

Vocabulary

Word Inference

Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary or thesaurus for assistance. Have the students write sentences using each word. Have students use the Word organizer from Enchanted Learning to assist them with new vocabulary.

Color Vocabualry Map by Enchanted LearningSentences:

  1. By his middle and later years, enough of it seemed self-­parodying and sometimes even mawkish.
  2. And this is not even to dwell on all the time he devoted to indulging his passions for fishing and hunting.
  3. That is how we think of him when we squint and say his name.
  4. Hemingway was a far more tormented and sickly soul, than we ever really guessed.
  5. The movable space could be on his fishing cruiser in the Gulf Stream, or in a hotel room in Spain while bombardments were going on outside the window.
  6. It should also be said that there were years of relative stability and domesticity.
  7. I’ll acknowledge that these were the first audiobooks of any kind I have ever listened to in bulk.
  8. I’ve never wanted to be an audiophile of literature, certainly not of Hemingway.
  9. But a funny thing happened on the way to my expected disregard for these recordings.
  10. He was always a bit fearful of gadgety things.

Reading Comprehension

Unscramble The Events

Directions: Place students in groups and have them place the events in the order that they appear in the article.

  1.  Everything bad about the life of Ernest Hemingway seemed somewhere far behind. The work remained. And the river was there.
  2. One answer to the riddle of how so many words were set down, in spite of everything, is that Hemingway kept struggling  to find his way to his writing table.
  3. Until I heard John Slattery narrate “A Farewell to Arms”  I hadn’t concentrated on the way the characters might have actually sounded in Hemingway’s own imagination.
  4. While that part of Hemingway is not untrue, it’s also the case that he was a far more tormented and sickly soul, both physically and emotionally.
  5. In a foreshortened life that didn’t make 62, Ernest Hemingway got a lot down on paper. 
  6. The movable space could be on his fishing cruiser in the Gulf Stream, or in a hotel room in Spain while bombardments were going on outside the window.
  7. I’ll acknowledge that these were the first audiobooks of any kind I have ever listened to in bulk.
  8. But how did he get so much work done amid all that wasteful boozing, the depressions, the freakish accidents, the bouts of soaring blood pressure, and Seconal-stoked nights?
  9. I had the feeling that Donald Sutherland, who ably dramatizes the 1952 comeback novella, “The Old Man and the Sea” has logged some hours listening to Hemingway’s own recorded voice.
  10. Since 2002, Simon & Schuster Audio has been bringing out (“reintroducing . . . to a new generation of listeners,” as the liner notes put it) virtually the full Hemingway literary corpus.

 Grammar Focus

Using Adjectives  to describe pictures    

Directions: Place students in groups, and have them choose a picture from this lesson. Each group will  write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives. As a class review the adjectives from each group, then share the paragraphs with the class.

For a review of Adjectives visit ESL Voices Grammar

III. Post Reading

Reading Comprehension Check

WH-How Questions

Directions: Have students use the  WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.

  • Who or What is the article about?
  • Where does the action/event take place?
  • When does the action/event take place?
  • Why did the action/event occur?
  • How did the action/event occur?

Discussion/Writing 

Directions: Place students in groups and have them answer the following questions. After, have the groups share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics.

  1. The article states, “In a foreshortened life that didn’t make 62, Ernest Hemingway got a lot down on paper.” How would you put this sentence into your own words?
  2. From the article we learn that Hemingway “was a far more tormented and sickly soul, both physically and emotionally than we ever really guessed.” Writer George Orwell wrote, “ “A man wears a mask, and his face grows to fit it.”  Give an example of what Orwell meant.
  3. Ernest Hemingway has been quoted as saying, “Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”  Rephrase this comment in your own words. Do you agree or disagree with Hemingway? Provide reasons for why or why not.
  4. From this article how would you describe Ernest Hemingway?
  5. Either with a partner or individually, research the following people and write an essay describing the person.
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Hadley Richardson-Hemingway
  • Gertrude Stein
  • Pauline Pfeiffer Hemingway
  • Waldo Peirce
  • Martha Gellhorn -Hemingway
  • Mary Welsh -Hemingway
  • Jack, Patrick, and Gregory Hemingway

IV. Listening Activity   

Video Clip An Interview with Ernest Hemingway’s Son, Patrick Hemingway (Part I).

Introduction: Sandra Spanier speaks with Ernest Hemingway’s son Patrick about the new picture of his iconic father that emerges in The Letters Of Ernest Hemingway Volume I.

 While Listening Tasks

True  /False/NA Statements

Directions: Review the statements with students before the watching the video.  As students listen to the video if  a statement is true they mark it T,  if the statement is  false they  mark  it F and provide the correct answerIf there is no information available for a statement then students write NA.

  1. According to Patrick Hemingway people imagined  Hemingway as a shy introverted man.
  2. To some, Hemingway  seemed to emphasize his quiet nature.
  3. Patrick thinks this is a ridiculous picture people have of his father.
  4. Patrick describes his father in detail.
  5. One of the main things Patrick learned from reading his father’s letters  was  Hemingway’s deep relationship with his sisters.
  6. From Hemingway’s letters, people can learn what type of food Hemingway enjoyed most.
  7. The letters were interesting because Hemingway wrote so few of them.
  8. Hemingway’s letters are interesting because they are the last great example of letter writing.
  9. According to Patrick, no one writes letters any more because letter writing is a lost art.
  10. Patrick explained his relationship with his father.

Link to video.

Post Listening

Questions for Discussion

Directions:Place students in groups and have them discuss the following questions.

1. After listening to this video has your personal idea of Ernest Hemingway changed in any way? If yes, describe in what way.  If no, describe your original opinion.

2. Did  you agree with everything Patrick said?  Discuss which comments you agreed with and which ones you tended not to agree with. Explain why.

3.  With your group members, make up questions that you would like to ask either Patrick or Ernest Hemingway.

ANSWER KEY: Hemingway in Audio

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