Category Archives: Literature

The Gift That Keeps Giving: ‘The Gift of the Magi’

“Just over 105 years ago, William Sydney Porter sat in a dim, high-backed booth—the third one from the window—in Pete’s Tavern on Irving Place, which cross-sects the Gramercy area of Manhattan. While patrons drank at the adjacent rosewood bar—he sat and penned one of the most enduring love stories to come after the turn of the 20th century. That writer is better known as O. Henry, and according to legend—a plaque commemorates that booth at Pete’s over a century later—he scripted his famous The Gift of the Magi  there.” K. Fallon, The Atlantic

Book Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Book Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for Gift of the Magi with Answer Key

Excerpt: The Gift of ‘The Gift of the Magi’ By Kevin Fallon, The Atlantic

“The indelible short story was first published on December 10, 1905 in the New York Sunday World Magazine. O. Henry was among the most popular writers of his day, with Magi being published at the height of his fame. The tale, a simply structured, exquisitely told story of self-sacrifice, generosity, and love, closed with the O. Henry signature: an ironic twist.

O. Henry- 1862-1910. In 2012 the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp to observe the sesquicentennial of O. Henry's birth.

O. Henry- 1862-1910. In 2012 the U.S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp to observe the sesquicentennial of O. Henry’s birth.

From its opening the story is relatable; destitution is a theme that will never lose relevance. Della and Jim are 22-year-old newlyweds, earning a $20 a week income, and living in a humble apartment—the kind furnished with a shabby little couch and pier-glass window panes.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

She had been saving every penny she could for months… So deeply in love with her husband, Della can’t bear not giving him a Christmas gift and sells off her hair to purchase a fob chain for his watch… we discover that he has pawned the watch to afford the tortoise-shell combs Della had been eyeing to comb her hair.  In the age where shoppers line up at 3 am to buy a HDTV at a 10 percent discount, perhaps the story constantly resurfaces to serve as a sort of moral compass, steering us back on course to the season of giving.It’s a reminder of the way we should be living, with love first, giving second, and possession below all.”

WISHING EVERYONE HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

~ESL VOICES~

Design by webarts

Design by webarts

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for Gift of the Magi

Level: Intermediate -Advanced

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

Time: approximately 2 hours.

Materials:  Copy of story The Gift Of The Magi,  biography of O. Henry, examples of Components for Literary Analysis, and access to the video below.

Objectives:  Students will  read and discuss the short story The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. Students will achieve a better understanding of the story by learning literary devices and terms  (e.g., imagery, symbolism, setting,) used for analyzing stories.  They will also learn how to  analyze the relationship between characters, and events in the story by using these literary devices.

I. Pre-Reading Exercises

Analyzing headings and photos

Directions:  Ask students to read the title of the short story. Then, have them  examine the photo carefully. Based on these sources,  ask students to create a list of  words and  ideas  that they think might be related to this article.

 Discussion Questions

Directions: Have students discuss the following questions.

The Gift of the Magi is a story about a young married couple who are very poor. This story tells of  how they handle the challenge of  secretly buying Christmas gifts for each other with very little money to spend. The questions below ask you to think about gifts and their value.  Discuss your ideas with your class members.

1. In your opinion what makes a gift  valuable?

2. Describe the most valuable gift you have ever received.

3. What was the most valuable gift you have given someone?

II. While Reading Tasks

Vocabulary:  Word Inference

Directions: Place students in groups and have them infer the meanings of the words in bold font taken from the story. They can use this great Vocabulary Chart by Learnnc.org as a guide.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

  1. This is a  story about the meaning of true love and unselfishness.
  2. Della sat  down on the shabby little couch and howled.
  3. They lived in a furnished flat at $8 per week.
  4. In the vestibule below was a letter-box. 
  5. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated.
  6. Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass
  7. There were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride.
  8. Once she faltered for a minute.
  9. She was ransacking the stores for Jim’s present.
  10. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.
Prediction and Character Organizer Charts

Directions: Students may use these Prediction and Character  profile charts by Pace High School as  a while-reading tool to aid in  their comprehension of the events and of the characters in the story.

CHARACTER Prediction Chart: Pace High School

CHARACTER Prediction Chart: Pace High School

OUTCOME PREDICTIONS Pace High School

OUTCOME PREDICTIONS Pace High School

 

III. Post Reading Exercises

Questions for Comprehension

Directions: After students have reviewed Components for Literary Analysis have them answer the following questions from the story. 

  1. During what holiday does the story take place?
  2. Identify the characters in the story.
  3. What are the two valuable possessions  belonging to Della and Jim?
  4. How much money did Della have at first to buy Jim’s gift?
  5. What did Della do to get additional money for his gift?
  6. What gift did Della buy for Jim?
  7. How did Jim get additional money to buy Della’s gift?
  8. What gift did Jim buy for Della?
  9. Did things work out the way Jim and Della planned? Explain why or why not.
Questions for Reflection

Directions:  In groups have students discuss the following questions.

  1. What are some of the themes in the story?
  2. What are some of the symbols in the story?
  3. Imagery is descriptive language that creates a picture in the reader’s mind.  Identify some examples of how O. Henry used imagery.
  4. What  does the reference to the magi mean in this story?
Writing Assignment 

Directions: Have students choose a topic from below and write an essay to share with the class.

  1.  Some of the themes in this  story are selfless love, sacrifice, and the frustration of poverty. Choose one of these themes and write an essay describing your thoughts about the theme.
  2.  Write a description for each character  that appears in the story.
  3.  O. Henry is famous for the surprise endings in his stories. In The Gift of The Magi  the surprise is that both Jim and Della sacrificed their most cherished possession for the other. See if you can write a different “surprise” ending for the story. Share your ending with the class.
IV. Listening Activity  

Video Clip:  O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi (Free Audio Book) 

Questions for Discussion (Listening)

• After listening to the story, do you feel that you understand it better?   If yes, describe in what way. If no, explain why not.

• Do you prefer the written or aural version of The Gift of the Magi? Provide reasons for your choice.

Additional Activities for Students

Student Interactive: Comic Stories

Directions: In groups have students create short comic strips depicting the events of this short story. Students can vary the dialog of the characters for fun. For a good comic-strip generator visit:  Read Write and Think

Students Write Different Endings

Directions: Have each group write a different ending to the story and share them with the class.

ANSWER KEY: The Gift of the Magi

Category: Literature | Tags:

New Classic Lesson Plans with Answer Keys

ESL Voices has added the following Classic Lesson Plans with Answer Keys:

The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife by Ernest Hemingway

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Visit  Other Classic Lesson Plans in the ESL Voices Library

Classics: Lesson Plans

Below are the lesson plans based on the short stories in the Classic section of the ESL Voices Library. They are listed by the author’s last name. Note that Lessons by various authors will be added on a continuing basis.

The Child’s Story By Charles Dickens

Indian Camp By Ernest Hemingway

The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife By Ernest Hemingway

Soldier’s Home By Ernest Hemingway

Cat In The Rain By Ernest Hemingway

The Last Leaf By O. Henry

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Category: Literature | Tags: ,

Michigan: Hemingway’s Secret Shangri-La

“In 1898, the year before Ernest Hemingway was born, his parents bought 200 feet of frontage on Walloon Lake in northern Michigan, out in the backlands of Petoskey, a coastal resort town… Yet even Hemingway fans might draw a blank on his Michigan connection. Havana, Key West, Ketchum, Paris, Pamplona — these locales tend to conjure vintage Papa: a kerchiefed, bloated, rum-drunk Nobel laureate. Petoskey? Not so much. The gatekeepers of Hemingway’s legend have largely ignored the place… But if you want to understand the writer, you have to start here.” J. O’Connor, NYT

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Young Hemingway on Walloon Lake Mchigan. Photo credit- JFKlibrary

Young Hemingway on Walloon Lake Mchigan. Photo credit- JFKlibrary

 Walloon Lake Northern Michigan. Photo credit cbgreatlakes

Walloon Lake Northern Michigan. Photo credit cbgreatlakes

Excerpt:  |When Hemingway Was a Young Fisherman in Michigan By John O’Connor, The New York Times

“Absolutely the best trout fishing in the country. No exaggeration, he [Hemingway] later wrote to a friend about the Petoskey area, perhaps exaggerating a tad but hitting on an essential truth of summer in the Michigan boonies: It’s a great place to laze around and swim and fish when you want to. And the best place in the world to do nothing. It is beautiful country … And nobody knows about it but us.

A young Hemingway poses with fish that he caught in Wallon Lake in Michigan 1916. Photo credit metrotimes.com

A young Hemingway poses with fish that he caught in Wallon Lake in Michigan 1916. Photo credit metrotimes.com

By all accounts, northern Michigan had a seismic effect on Ernest Hemingway and his future work. It was a place where men lived hard and lean, ran trotlines and considered bilge water a beverage. Good stuff for essays, he wrote in a 1916 journal entry, recording fishing trip details he would later channel into Nick Adams stories.

Little Traverse Bay. Photo credit michigan.org

Little Traverse Bay. Photo credit michigan.org

It’s an odd juxtaposition to think of Hemingway, years later, sipping espresso in Paris cafes while writing about Nick Adams — a semi-autobiographical stand-in for the author’s own manly wanderings in the Michigan wilds…Probably the river most people associate with Hemingway is the Two-Hearted in the Upper Peninsula, thanks to Big Two-Hearted River. An archetype of minimalism, the story depicts Adams as a veteran wrestling with the trauma of war while trout fishing in deepest Michigan. Northern Michigan was his first Eden, and it got seared into his emotions. From that came great stories.”

Ernest Hemingway July 21, 1899-July 2, 1961

Additional Lesson Plans for stories by Hemingway:

Indian Camp

Soldier’s Home

Cat in the Rain

Read Additional Stories by Ernest Hemingway

Remember: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH, 2013 Photo- dcmilitary.

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 handout (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: Using a Pre-reading Organizer

Directions:  Ask students to examine the title of the post and of the actual article they are about to read. Then, have them  examine the photos. Ask students to write a paragraph describing what they think this article will discuss. Students can use a Pre-reading organizer for assistance.

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 Chart for assistance.

  1. The Hemingways were fresh off a luxury steamship.
  2. They were looking to  leave the suburbs.
  3. Hemingway did not exaggerate about trout fishing in Michigan.
  4. Northern Michigan had a seismic effect on Ernest Hemingway.
  5. He noted fishing trip details he would later channel into Nick Adams stories.
  6. It’s an odd juxtaposition to think of Hemingway, years later, sipping espresso in Paris cafes.
  7. It’s beautiful to see Michigan’s  terraced farmland dusted with pollen.
  8. Hemingway has several hallowed fishing spots.
  9. The story  Big Two-Hearted River is an archetype of minimalism.
  10. The village of Horton Bay was a major fixture of Hemingway’s adolescence.
Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

Reading Comprehension

Word -Recognition

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

Despite/spite having gown/grown up three/thee hours south of Petoskey and having fished many/money of the locust/local waters that Hemingway did, I couldn’t recall/recalls ever sitting/setting foot in the town. Nowadays I live out East and rarely/rare find my way back home. And so, in June, I finally maid/made it to Michigan, intent/intense on tracing Hemingway’s boyhood obit/orbit and seeing the country where Nick Adams came of age.

 Grammar Focus: Preposition Exercise

Prepositions:  in, for, of, with, by,  on, at, to, as, into, across, around, over,  through, from, during, up, off,

Directions: The following sentences are from the news article.  For each sentence choose the correct preposition from the choices listed above. Note that not all prepositions listed are in the article.

The Petoskey area is absolutely the best trout fishing ___the country. And the best place ___the world___ do nothing.

Driving___ the east coast___ Lake Michigan___ Glen Arbor, I cut___the pinkie of Michigan’s mitten to Traverse City.

___ Petoskey, which sits ___a bluff overlooking Little Traverse Bay, a warm breeze swept ____the lake and wheeled and skidded___the streets.

III. Post Reading Tasks

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. The following  two statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each statement in your own words, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.

“It’s an odd juxtaposition to think of Hemingway, years later, sipping espresso in Paris cafes while writing about Nick Adams — a semi-autobiographical stand-in for the author’s own manly wanderings in the Michigan wilds.”

“Lots of people dislike Hemingway for some pretty good reasons, like machine-gunning mako sharks from his boat or the ugly vein of misogyny, homophobia and anti-Semitism that litters his fiction and personal correspondence.”

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY

Category: Literature | Tags: ,

Japan’s Yōkai Folklore Returns!

“Fantastical monsters like the tanuki abound in Michael Dylan Foster’s The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore  one of several books about yokai that have hit American shelves this year…Why the recent crop of yokai books in the United States? Credit generations of Americans exposed to the creatures through a steady stream of Japanese cultural imports. Haruki Murakami has included several in his novels, while hordes have appeared in the films of Hayao Miyazaki (the clicking, bobble-headed kodama, or tree spirits, in Princess Mononoke; much of the cast of Spirited Away.” R. Ito-New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

Hiyao Miyazaki's Spirited Away

Hiyao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away

Scene from Hiyao Miyazaki's Spirited Away

Scene from Hiyao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away

Excerpt: Reviving Japan’s Dreaded and Beloved Ghosts. Robert Ito NYT

“In June, Zack Davisson will publish Yurei: The Japanese Ghost (Chin Music Press), a critical look at the history of some of Japan’s most dreaded and beloved spooks. Both are scholarly texts enlivened by images of the beasts in scroll paintings, woodblock prints and original illustrations.

Zack Davisson's book Yurei- The Japanese Ghost (

Zack Davisson’s book Yurei- The Japanese Ghost (

And then there’s Matthew Meyer’s forthcoming The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits,  an encyclopedic look at yokai that includes notes on each creature’s appearance, behavior and favorite hangouts. Mr. Meyer’s paintings combine the vibrant colors of traditional Japanese woodblock prints with references to Asian horror movies and contemporary manga. The result is a coffee-table book (self-published) that doubles as an illustrated guide, full of legends and obscure yokai trivia.

Matthew Meyer’s The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits

Matthew Meyer’s The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits

Even more have crept into American homes through video games and trading cards. Pokémon, the multibillion-dollar toy and video game empire, bases many of its characters on yokai. So does the most recent challenge to Pokémon’s cultural dominance, the best-selling video game and anime series Yo-Kai Watch, which makes no effort to hide its creative sources.

Yokai Watch’s popularity increases in the US. Photo-GC Magazine

Yokai Watch’s popularity increases in the US. Photo-GC Magazine

All those monsters — altered and cuteified as they may be — have inspired fans to seek out the original texts…Fans love tracking these evolutions over time, as well as learning every bit of information about as many yokai as they can. This might explain why a lot of these books, scholarly or not, have the look and feel of illustrated encyclopedias, with detailed descriptions of scores of creatures.”

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 handout (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

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 Chart for assistance.

  1. Tanuki is the badger-like creatures of Japanese lore.
  2. They are an impetuous bunch.
  3. Both are scholarly texts.
  4. The book’s illustrator, Chip Boles, seemed to have fun.
  5. Mr. Meyer’s paintings  have vibrant colors.
  6. They grow up with these things through anime.
  7. Stories about yokai have been popular in Japan for centuries.
  8. New texts and stories are still being discovered and translated.
  9. There are also beasts whose images remain.
  10. Among the creepiest of yokai are the yurei, spirits of the dead.
Color Vocabualry Map by Enchanted Learning

Color Vocabualry Map by Enchanted Learning

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. Yokai are mysterious creatures of Chinese folklore.
  2. Interest in yokai books have increased in the United States because of Japanese films, books, and video games.
  3. Tanuki, are types of Japanese food.
  4. In one tale, a tanuki playfully transforms into a steam train.
  5. The book Yurei: The Japanese Ghost looks at the history of some of Japan’s most dreaded and beloved ghosts.
  6. The yokai themselves are scarce in Japan.
  7. The Yokai Character Collection is more pictorial.
  8. A mokumokuren is a type of slipper.
  9. The Hour of Meeting Evil Spirits takes an encyclopedic look at yokai that includes notes on each creature’s appearance and behavior.
  10. Pokémon is a multibillion-dollar toy and video game empire.

 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. In June, Zack Davisson will publish his book.
  2. Both is scholarly texts enlivened by images of the beasts.
  3. It has the look and feel of a Dungeons & Dragons manual.

II

  1. The book’s illustrator is Chip Boles.
  2. The result are a coffee-table book.
  3. Pokémon bases many of its characters on yokai.

III

  1. All those monsters have inspired fans to seek out the original texts.
  2. Students is heavily influenced by popular culture.
  3. Why do the centuries-old monsters continue to fascinate?

III. Post Reading Tasks

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. The following  three statements were taken from the article. Rephrase each statement in your own words, then discuss the meaning with the members of your group.

“The students who come into the fields of Japanese literature and folklore as undergraduates are heavily influenced by popular culture…They grow up with these things through anime and manga and want to know where they come from.”

“Stories about yokai have been popular in Japan for centuries, from the 11th-century classic The Tale of Genji in which they’re called mononoke, or mysterious things, to contemporary anime series. The yokai themselves are everywhere in Japan, in films and cartoons, on billboards and even on beer bottle labels. The latest yokai craze began in the 1980s and has been going strong ever since, part of a long history of booms that dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868).”

“Relatively few of the thousands of texts and scholarly studies about yokai have been translated from Japanese, which makes these latest books all the more valuable to nonfluent seekers of the original tales…Mr. Foster [a folklore professor at Indiana University and author of  Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai] draws from texts and folk tales dating back to Japan’s Heian period, from the works of the 10th-century writer Abe no Seimei (a midlevel bureaucrat who has been reborn in contemporary manga and anime as a young, beautifully androgynous sorcerer) to the tales of the early-20th-century scholar and avid story collector Kunio Yanagita, considered one of the founders of Japanese folklore studies.”

3-2-1-Writing

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

ANSWER KEY

Category: Literature | Tags:

The Hidden Messages in Children’s Fairy Tales

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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