Conversations About             BooksFacilitators present sample books and discussion methodsthey offer in the New Hampshi...
Pumpkins by Ken Robbins  photo essay presented in beginning level ESOL classThemes: Food, New England, Planting the Earth,...
PumpkinsSequencing a Narrative: with Beginning Level Readers                      and SpeakersAfter reading the book, we d...
Deepak’s Diwali by Divya Karwal, illus. by                         Doreen Lang        a picture book about the celebration...
Deepak’s DiwaliWe created a festive atmosphere for the discussion of Deepak’sDiwali. We dressed in traditional clothes for...
Ferdinand by Munro Leaf            picture book presented at the NH State Prison for Women at                           Go...
Teammates by    Peter Golenbock, illus. by Paul Baconillustrated biography presented at NH State Prison for Men, Berlin   ...
A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams a picture book presented with a mixed level ESOL class. Themes: Saving, Overcoming ...
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse    a novel in verse presented at the NH State Prison for WomenThemes: Historical fiction, U...
Out of the DustOne of the things that helped participants to feel comfortable bothwith the book and with us as facilitator...
My People by Langston Hughes                 photos by Charles R. Smith, Jr.photo essay with poem, presented with beginnin...
“We spoke the lines of the poem again and again to emphasize              the words, the rhythms, and the sounds. Once the...
Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall     a picture book presented with developmentally disabled adults“Each of the participants birt...
Ox Cart Man   The community building activity at our session for Ox Cart Man was extremelyenergizing for this non-reading ...
Good Poems compiled by Garrison Keillor thematic anthology presented at the NH State Prison for Men, Concord              ...
Good PoemsI introduced two components of poems for the men to find in each poem wewould read: a “moment of surprise” and a...
Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner short novel read in Adult Basic Education group of tutors and students                ...
The use of the theme of courageSo often, when beginning readers start a book, they perhapsapproach the book with trepidati...
One Green Apple by Eve Buntinga picture book presented in a mixed intermediate ESOL class        Theme: acclimating to a n...
Provide discussion questions during the reading that focus on differences,difficulties, methods of communication, feelings...
Reading Art                                         At the beginning of the program      with                             ...
The Most Beautiful Place in The World                      By Ann Cameron  Very short novella with illustrations read with...
Facilitators’ Tips for Successful Book                 DiscussionsIt seems that the most successful group discussions were...
Food is both a big draw, and a good ice breaker and equalizer, and canalways be somehow connected to every reading. Partic...
Maintain a basic structure, but be flexible and responsive to the group,allowing for small (fun) variations throughout the...
Conversations About books
Conversations About books
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Conversations About books

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New Hampshire Humanities Council facilitators in the literacy program Connections present ways they welcome readers into story and image.

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Conversations About books

  1. 1. Conversations About BooksFacilitators present sample books and discussion methodsthey offer in the New Hampshire Humanities Council‟s AdultLiteracy Program, Connections.
  2. 2. Pumpkins by Ken Robbins photo essay presented in beginning level ESOL classThemes: Food, New England, Planting the Earth, Seasons A great book for a mixed level ESOL class as well as beginners, Pumpkins gives beautiful, seasonal images inviting identification, conversation, and interpretation. - Susan Bartlett
  3. 3. PumpkinsSequencing a Narrative: with Beginning Level Readers and SpeakersAfter reading the book, we divided the class into threegroups. Each group received a series of photographsfrom the 2010 Connecticut River “Pumpkin Flood” whenrising waters swept 100,000 pumpkins off several fields.The photos show volunteers fishing pumpkins out of theriver. The class groups are asked to sequence the photosso that they tell a story and then explain their reasoningto the whole class. When we did this exercise in Laconia,we had three different stories! After we discussed all thepossibilities, we looked at the article in the Valley Newsto find out what really happened. We also talked aboutwhat pictures were missing from the selection thatwould have helped to better tell the true story. A similarexercise could be used with many books, and there areendless possibilities for writing practice. - Susan Bartlett
  4. 4. Deepak’s Diwali by Divya Karwal, illus. by Doreen Lang a picture book about the celebration of the Hindu Festival of Lights, presented with a beginning level ESOL class. Themes: Holidays, Family, Religions, Food.
  5. 5. Deepak’s DiwaliWe created a festive atmosphere for the discussion of Deepak’sDiwali. We dressed in traditional clothes for Diwali. I preparedhalwa, a traditional dessert, for the participants. It is one of thetraditional Diwali sweet dishes. I brought in the prayer book ofdevotional songs sung on the Diwali day while worshippingLaxmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity and sang the songswith the participants. I brought the traditional Diyas or oil lampsused to light up homes on the Diwali day and the Pooja thaali orthe prayer plate used to worship the idol of Goddess Laxmi onDiwali day.I handed out a list of vocabulary words to the participants tobuild their vocabulary and explained the meaning of each wordand enacted some of the words for them to give them a betterunderstanding of the text.. - Appy Manchanda
  6. 6. Ferdinand by Munro Leaf picture book presented at the NH State Prison for Women at GoffstownThis children‟s book is an easy read that supports thepower of remaining true to oneself. There may be manyinterpretations of the short book, but using it at the NHState Prison for Women, the emphasis I used was on the artof the illustration and the strength of the individual.Since the illustrations are black and white and haveremained powerfully imaginative, I taught the women tomake Zentangles. This is an art form which can becomequite elaborate but allows all levels to participate, eventhose who think they cannot draw a line. It is done in blackand white. – Linda Graham
  7. 7. Teammates by Peter Golenbock, illus. by Paul Baconillustrated biography presented at NH State Prison for Men, Berlin Themes: Justice, Race and friendship On the theme of race and friendship: Think of 5 activities that you do on a regular basis (not necessarily daily). Imagine that tomorrow you woke up and your race had changed. How would doing those activities be different? How do you think strangers would react to you? If you were “Pee Wee” Reese‟s father, how would you help him handle the harassment? Do you think your children would do what he did? - Courtney Marshall
  8. 8. A Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams a picture book presented with a mixed level ESOL class. Themes: Saving, Overcoming hardships, Community, Family, Mothers & daughters A Chair for My Mother is designed with borders to each page that echo the emotions of the characters in the story and key events. Pivotal moments include a fire in the family‟s apartment and later, a line of caring neighbors walking over with household items to help them get settled in their new home . As the visual experience of reading this book is so rich I chose to copy in color the boarders of some pages and share these with the participants. We discussed how we might draw or sketch difficulties we had experienced and happier times in our lives. Brushes and watercolor paints and small glass jars were available for people to use. We ended up with a small „gallery‟ of paintings and discussed what we had made and why. – Hetty Startup
  9. 9. Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse a novel in verse presented at the NH State Prison for WomenThemes: Historical fiction, U.S. history, Family, Jazz music, Planting the Earth, Stamina, Endurance
  10. 10. Out of the DustOne of the things that helped participants to feel comfortable bothwith the book and with us as facilitators was the sharing ofphotographs from the historical period of the dust bowl. Mostsuccessful was the photography of Dorothea Lange, and mostuseful of all was The Migrant Mother. After ample discussion,and because the photo is so evocative, it led beautifully to awriting exercise that can be individualized. Start by havingstudents list single words that the photo brings to mind whenthey look at it. From that word list, an additional writing ofpoetry, prose or memoir can .
I would love to go back and do a session with the women on Steinbeckswork as they were ready and interested in it, but had never heard of hisnovels. - Tammi Truax
  11. 11. My People by Langston Hughes photos by Charles R. Smith, Jr.photo essay with poem, presented with beginning/mixed level ESOL class . Themes: the humanities 
 We began sessions by serving each student a cup of hot tea. It was a good ice breaker and places both facilitator and student on a more level playing field. The poem is short and succinct and written for adults. Each phrase presents opportunities to make leaps between the speaker‟s recent culture and the new culture he or she has entered. For example, when Hughes compares his people to the stars, we used the opportunity to talk about the North Star, and its name in the various cultures. We moved outside and investigated where the Polaris would be that night in Concord. Johanna Young, the teacher, is exploring the possibility of a follow-up trip to the Christa McAuliffe Planetarium. – Rodger Martin
  12. 12. “We spoke the lines of the poem again and again to emphasize the words, the rhythms, and the sounds. Once the poem was familiar, students created individual poems in the style of Langston Hughess poem.” - Rodger MartinFor our final activity of the summer, weheld a poetry reading with differentstudents taking turns reading lines ofthe poem. The rest of the class joined ina chorus shouting, “my people” after each My mother is beautifulline. Several students read their poemsas part of the performance. Most of the Like Bhutan is beautiful,students were adults from age 20 up toage 75. Family members, friends, staff, Like stars look beautiful at night.and volunteers all came to watch theperformance. Students also brought - Hema Khanalfood to share. They decorated the dininghall at First Congregational Church withdrawings of faces, trees, flowers andwords they had learned. - Johanna Young
  13. 13. Ox Cart Man by Donald Hall a picture book presented with developmentally disabled adults“Each of the participants birthdays were a part of a particular season, a part of theoriginal story, and a part of the story about our own lives. “ Maren Tirabassi
  14. 14. Ox Cart Man The community building activity at our session for Ox Cart Man was extremelyenergizing for this non-reading group, and I can extrapolate that it would work verywell in an ESOL setting as well. A long sheet of table-covering white paper was dividedinto blocks for the twelve months of the year. The participants brainstormed whatweather, what activities, what work and what fun they experience in each of thesemonths. We then noted everyone‟s birthdays so that individuals could identify with aparticular month.Ox Cart Man begins in October when the father of the family packs his wagon forPortsmouth market. The story of the family continues through a full year. We slowlyread the pages contrasting life in the two eras. The importance of contributions fromeach family member in Donald Hall‟s story was compared to the importance ofcontributions from different members of the contemporary family unit and other formsof community, such as Community Partners. - Maren Tirabassi
  15. 15. Good Poems compiled by Garrison Keillor thematic anthology presented at the NH State Prison for Men, Concord Themes include: Work, Triumphs, Yellow“Used”I am aloneIn a large quiet room.Its peaceful.The occasional passerby reaches out to greet me.Im worried they will only glance.Then forget me without 2nd thoughts.One day Ill touch someone that will seekto use my wordsone day. - Justin Hileman
  16. 16. Good PoemsI introduced two components of poems for the men to find in each poem wewould read: a “moment of surprise” and a “turning point”. I started withthe anonymous rhymed quatrains "The Village Burglar.” They quickly gotthe idea of "the moment of surprise" saying you dont expect a burglar to goto church, and identified the “turning point” as stealing from the collectionplate. Richard Jones‟s poem "After Work” was the most popular poem, and one Isuggested as one they might want to record for their kids. We practicedreading aloud to show how you say the words affects how you hear themeaning. - Sara Backer
  17. 17. Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner short novel read in Adult Basic Education group of tutors and students Theme: CourageWhat is courage?Close your eyes and think of a time you have had courage. Wewon‟t share these experiences, we will just remember themsilently – the situation, the feelings, what you saw, heard. Silence(give your students time). Now say one word connected withthat experience. For example, my word would be “doorway.”(Write the words on the board and ask someone else to recordthem for you.) From these words, we‟ll keep in our minds theseexperiences of courage. - Maggie Moore
  18. 18. The use of the theme of courageSo often, when beginning readers start a book, they perhapsapproach the book with trepidation: Will I understand the words,the story? Will I get to the end? Will I “get it”? They think of thebook as an object separate from themselves; the reading is“bookcentric.”Talking about courage brings them - who they are - to the book.They know about courage. Talking together about the themegives readers confidence in their own knowledge and showsrespect for their intelligence and experience. The discussion alsohelps them access the book in an individual and personal way.They see another reason for reading. - Maggie Moore
  19. 19. One Green Apple by Eve Buntinga picture book presented in a mixed intermediate ESOL class Theme: acclimating to a new life or situation
  20. 20. Provide discussion questions during the reading that focus on differences,difficulties, methods of communication, feelings, belonging, predictions, fittingin, and details in the illustrations:How does each page‟s illustration prepare you for what might happen next?What differences does Farah notice?What difficulties does Farah name?What do people do to try to communicate?How has Farah changed by the end of the story?How have individuals in the class changed? - Carolyn Cicciu
  21. 21. Reading Art At the beginning of the program with display the painting on chalkboard or window ledge. The Midnight During the last 15-20 minutes, gather Ride of Paul everyone around the picture. Let them look at it for a moment before Revere posing questions. Ask responders toIllustrated poem and image from point out in the picture support forPicturing America presented with their statements: mixed ESOL/ABE groupPainting: The Midnight Ride of Paul How is the story of the title being told? Revere by Grant Wood Is it a pleasant story? A frightening story? Could this be a photo? (A way to address the slight surrealism of the painting: the point of view, lighting, trees in background, etc.) Could this painting have a different title? - Jennifer Lee
  22. 22. The Most Beautiful Place in The World By Ann Cameron Very short novella with illustrations read with mixed level ESOL classThemes: Family, Grandmothers, Education, Learning to Read, Child labor What I picked up from the students in class was that students love to and want to reminisce. The Most Beautiful Place in The World transports readers to their past world of siblings, friends, uncles, grandmothers, and little towns. When I started going around collecting those short stories from students, they became engaged and wanted to discuss some family events and routines. Many students remembered all their favorite places and celebrated those settings where they were most alive and felt that they belonged. - Maria Cristina Rojas
  23. 23. Facilitators’ Tips for Successful Book DiscussionsIt seems that the most successful group discussions were the ones in which Itook a risk in suggesting a meaning that was unexpected. - Linda GrahamBuild a rapport with the participants, invite them to relate to the text with theirown life experiences, and summarize the story at the end of each discussion. - Appy ManchandaBy introducing different ways of telling (painting and drawing) there areaffirmations for different kinds of talents. Make sure to say that the art work isnot being graded in any way. - Hetty Startup
  24. 24. Food is both a big draw, and a good ice breaker and equalizer, and canalways be somehow connected to every reading. Participants at theGoffstown Prison wished that we could have incorporated food into theprogram at least once. - Tammi TruaxIn Community Partners and in ESOL classes as well, offering a personalconnection with the story creates the atmosphere for good discussion andcounterbalances any drawbacks of a particular book. - Maren TirabassiAt the start of each week, I briefly review highlights of the discussion fromthe week before. - Maggie MooreBring joyful energy into the room and express gratitude for everyone‟swillingness to “play with books.” - Courtney Marshall
  25. 25. Maintain a basic structure, but be flexible and responsive to the group,allowing for small (fun) variations throughout the series. - Jennifer LeeBegin class with an activity that involves every student sayingsomething. It might be something simple like naming a fruit they like toeat or that is native to their country. Having spoken once before theclass begins gives the students courage to participate later. This couldbe done as a whole class activity or in small groups. - Carolyn Cicciu ESOL students are motivated learners. Articulate every sound. Do notrush your language. - Rodger Martin

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