We’re reading The Giver right now. Most years this is the first book I make them read mostly at home. After reading The Outsiders and The Midwife’s Apprentice and Maus almost entirely out loud in class and demoing to them how to do this, I usually cut them loose on The Giver and go old school: two chapters a day @ home, response in the notebook to process, quiz the next day to see if they actually did the reading, discussion to get them to understand it and bring along the kids who didn’t read. This is where we see if they can step up and do what they’ve been taught.

Yeah. Good luck with that. It took us the first 25 weeks to get all of them to be able to get the point of view (1st, 2nd, 3rd person) of all our books correct. Really, 25 weeks. I ask it on almost every weekly test: “(Whatever we are in the middle of reading that week) is written in…  a) 1st person  b) 2nd person  c) 3rd person  d) 4th person.

It took the first eight weeks before there was finally nobody picking 4th person.


Anyway. We’re about eight or ten chapters in, and I am realizing that we are going to have to read a lot more in class this time. A lot.

Every year though,  I still try to make sure I read out loud specific parts which I know will make them squirm (“The Stirrings!”), or flip out (Dad releasing the smaller twin: “Bye bye, little guy!“), or say stupid stuff, so I can call them on it.

Today we read the part where Jonas gets his one page of instructions. This is one of those say stupid stuff parts.

One of the rules is that he is allowed to be rude and ask personal questions of anybody. They all go, “Yay rude!”

Aside: One of the features of this class is the “Off-Topic Question time. Those few instances when I have time left at the end of a period, or when a class or two is ahead on a book we’re reading in class, and I don’t want them to get too out of sync, we do OTQ’s. I let them AMA (ask me anything). I don’t always answer, but usually I do. But they are sooooooo uncreative with their questions, it physically pains me: What’s your favorite color? Really? What animal would you be? Gawd. Are you kidding me?

“How is that any different than you guys are now? He’s just legit now. Unlike you, it’s part of his job. He gets Off-Topic Questions whenever he wants!”


And they all LOVE the last rule, “You may lie.”

“Hmmm. Remind me never to trust you guys ever again. Again, how is this different from usual for you guys?”

They all laugh, but it is also kinda sad that my most enthusiastic volunteering for parts when we read Maus is when I say we need somebody to play one of the Nazis.

And then every Nazi seems to end up having a Southern Alabama or British accent.