I recently read how one teacher provides her students with the entire plot of a new novel before beginning a study. Her thinking? If her students understand the basic story line, they”ll better be able to focus upon deeper aspects of the novel.
Not a crazy idea. Think about the last movie preview you saw. Did it really leave you wondering about the film’s outcome? On the contrary. It presented you with enough bits and pieces that you could likely cobble together a reasonable summary of the entire film. So why bother seeing the movie?
To that question, a multitude of answers. Me, personally? Nothing beats watching a movie on the big screen with a big tub of buttered popcorn warming my lap. 95% of the time I know exactly what will happen (especially if the plot line follows the universally popular Hero Myth). What I’m there to see is how the pieces fall into place. I’m there to see what lies between them.
With this in mind, I took a different approach to introducing a new novel recently. Rather than share thematically related picture books, or draw out prior experiences relating to the book’s topic, I showed them a preview. And you know what? It really got them psyched. More importantly, just as my colleague hypothesized earlier, it helped my students to relax and focus on elements beyond the basic plot.
See Scholastic’s preview of Swindle for yourself. See if it doesn’t create some excitement for the reading experience. (This book trailer is just one of sixty-five book video previews available at the Scholastic site).