Let’s Tell a Story: Literature Circles

As a new Elementary Education major in college years ago, one of my very favorite courses I took was in Children’s Literature. My professor, clearly a man who had taught in elementary school for many years, was simply passionate about children’s books. We read hundreds of children’s picture books throughout that semester, but there was one time in a class meeting that I will always remember. 

Enjoying Children’s Literature like a Child

Our professor had all of us, yes, college students, sit on the floor, our legs criss-cross, and he sat in a chair above us and pulled out the newly published and instant classic book – Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by author and illustrator Mo Willems. He proceeded to read the book aloud to us as we sat at his feet. Now, if you’ve ever read this book, you know this is not a book to read and listen to passively. No, this is an interactive book.

The main character, the Pigeon, asks the readers several times, in several intensifying ways if he can drive the bus. The catch is, at the very beginning of the book, the bus driver leaves us in charge of telling the Pigeon that NO, he may NOT drive the bus. So, throughout the book, the Pigeon’s frenzied attempts to drive the bus are continually met with readers’ loud and louder responses of, “NO!” By the time the bus driver returns to thank us for keeping the Pigeon out of the driver’s seat, and our professor closed the book, every single one of us was just about rolling on the floor in hysterical laughter.  

I learned so much from that professor. Even in the simple act of reading aloud a hilarious picture book to a bunch of college students, I learned a number of important lessons. Just for one, I learned that reading is never passive. We as readers always interact with the text. How many of you have had a book move you to tears? And I’m pretty sure that “on the edge of your seat” was a phrase coined, if not for just stories, but stories told in book form. 

Children interact with books, too. Even if they’re not actively yelling at an illustration of a silly-looking Pigeon to stay away from a bus, they are involved with the stories they read. They respond to the stories they read, and if everything works the way it should, they continue that practice through adulthood. 

Summer Literature Circles

This is what I want to do in our Literature Circle classes this summer. In two sections, one for Pre-K through completed 1st grade, and one for completed 2nd and 3rd-graders, I will host fun and interactive “virtual” literature circles for four weeks beginning the second week of June. 

The books I’ve chosen to read in our 1/2 hour meetings include a number of classics based in history and family history. In each meeting, I will read aloud an excerpt from a specially-chosen picture book. Together then, we’ll have a little discussion about the story. The last part of our meetings will be an activity time! Every week a printable will be emailed to participants prior to class time, and during our activity time and beyond, students will be able to actively interact with the story with writing and art prompts.

The books will vary between the two sections, but some of our selections include books by renowned authors such as Tomie dePaola, Patricia Polacco, Jacqueline Woodson, Cynthia Rylant, and more. 

Won’t you join us? 

These literature circles promise to be a joyful time spent together, and every class will provide activities and discussion prompts that will extend beyond our meeting time. Class sizes will be kept small, and spots are already filling up, so be sure to enroll soon! Pop over to our Class Listings page to enroll your children. And if you have children in completed 4th grade and above, our historical fiction summer camps and meant especially for them. Siblings and repeat students receive special discounts, so be sure to contact Katie for the coupon code before you enroll. 

I am so excited to share some incredible stories with your families this summer and to get to know each one of your children and hear their stories, too! See you in class! 

Katie 

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