Using Texts for Comparative Studies
© Beverley Paine, 2004
If you have a family that is hooked on movies rather than books don't despair. A love of reading can be inspired by watching movies. I've seen it happen. My children enjoy comparing a movie, or several movies made over time, to the original book. Recently we noticed differences in the plot and characterisation of books that were written to complement a successful movie. Producing a quality book is an entirely different process from the production of a quality movie and it's interesting to investigate how and why changes are necessary. As a result, we've developed great respect for both genres.
Any cash-strapped homeschooling family has every right to groan when Junior's much loved computer game is not only turned into a movie, but a series of gripping novels, complete with a range of toys and cards that Junior simply must have! Forget the toys and buy book number one. He can buy the rest with his pocket money instead of the flashy toys. I strongly urge you to read the books, watch the movie, and play the game for a while so that you can understand the jargon and story line. This will help you join in with his never-ending, enthusiastic chatter. It's easy from here to gently extend his vocabulary, excite his imagination beyond what's presented on screen or on the page, and to discover how he feels about not only the story and its characters, but how it relates to his life. It will be much easier to expand his interest beyond the book to interesting craft and art projects, science investigations and more. If your child isn't a competent reader yet, read the books aloud at a suitable time - action stories with cliff-hanging chapter endings are perhaps not the best bedtime stories!
Not only can we compare books to movies or computer games, we can read books that have the same theme or topic. From there it's a matter of chatting about how each story or book deals with the issues differently. We can talk about how the book makes us feel, if the outcome was satisfactory, could things have been done differently and which book we liked best and why. Often we have these conversations at the dinner table. I've never required the children to write book reports or essays, knowing that the literary skills they've developed in these conversations will serve them well if they ever need or want to record their opinions and knowledge. Writing helps to clarify our thoughts though and if the children are interested and willing, encourage them to do this from an early age. They may like to write reviews, which can be published in children's magazines or local newspapers.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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