I read this trying to solve the mystery of why no one read it in the three years since I bought it. Then I gave it to a friend considering homeschooling.
Deconstructing Penguins by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone The Goldstones ran a kids’ book club at the library, starting with second grade and going up. They believe that kids need and deserve good literature, not just a quick read, and that giving them the tools to dive into their reading will pay off. In this manual, they go over the key parts of analyzing a book – figuring out which characters are protagonist and antagonist (even when it’s not obvious), finding the climax, looking at the setting, determing the underlying message. For each of these aspects, they examine a couple of the works they’ve done with kids. They start with Mr. Popper’s Penguins and Charlotte’s Web, but include things like The Giver, The Call of the Wild and Animal Farm. They also go into some practical aspects of running a book club, like picking a time and how to get people to talk. I was a little disturbed at how their interpretations of books came out so final sounding, especially as they were talking about how literature can mean many things to many people. That may be a hazard of writing down a discussion as they do. Still, it’s good for its intended purpose, as well as talking about children’s classics and being a good overview of critical reading. Parents and teachers who want to pass on a love of reading take note.