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Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading

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“Books are like puzzles,” write Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. “The author’s ideas are hidden, and it is up to all of us to figure them out.” In this indispensable reading companion, the Goldstones–noted parent-child book club experts–encourage grownups and young readers alike to adopt an approach that will unlock the magic and power of reading. With the Goldstones help, par “Books are like puzzles,” write Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. “The author’s ideas are hidden, and it is up to all of us to figure them out.” In this indispensable reading companion, the Goldstones–noted parent-child book club experts–encourage grownups and young readers alike to adopt an approach that will unlock the magic and power of reading. With the Goldstones help, parents can inspire kids’ lifelong love of reading by teaching them how to unlock a book’s hidden meaning. Featuring fun and incisive discussions of numerous children’s classics, this dynamic guide highlights key elements–theme, setting, character, point of view, climax, and conflict–and paves the way for meaningful conversations between parents and children. “Best of all,” the Goldstones note, “you don’t need an advanced degree in English literature or forty hours a week of free time to effectively discuss a book with your child. This isn’t Crime and Punishment, it’s Charlotte’s Web.”


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“Books are like puzzles,” write Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. “The author’s ideas are hidden, and it is up to all of us to figure them out.” In this indispensable reading companion, the Goldstones–noted parent-child book club experts–encourage grownups and young readers alike to adopt an approach that will unlock the magic and power of reading. With the Goldstones help, par “Books are like puzzles,” write Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. “The author’s ideas are hidden, and it is up to all of us to figure them out.” In this indispensable reading companion, the Goldstones–noted parent-child book club experts–encourage grownups and young readers alike to adopt an approach that will unlock the magic and power of reading. With the Goldstones help, parents can inspire kids’ lifelong love of reading by teaching them how to unlock a book’s hidden meaning. Featuring fun and incisive discussions of numerous children’s classics, this dynamic guide highlights key elements–theme, setting, character, point of view, climax, and conflict–and paves the way for meaningful conversations between parents and children. “Best of all,” the Goldstones note, “you don’t need an advanced degree in English literature or forty hours a week of free time to effectively discuss a book with your child. This isn’t Crime and Punishment, it’s Charlotte’s Web.”

30 review for Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    To let you know where I'm coming from, I'm a homeschool parent, I studied literature in college, and I'm a writer. And this book made me want to run headfirst into the nearest wall. The Goldstones' premise is that when an author writes a book, they start out by thinking of some moral lesson they want to impart, then create a plot around it. If kids are trained like dogs to sniff out the protagonist, antagonist, setting, climax, and other stuff that makes me sleepy, they can then peel all that awa To let you know where I'm coming from, I'm a homeschool parent, I studied literature in college, and I'm a writer. And this book made me want to run headfirst into the nearest wall. The Goldstones' premise is that when an author writes a book, they start out by thinking of some moral lesson they want to impart, then create a plot around it. If kids are trained like dogs to sniff out the protagonist, antagonist, setting, climax, and other stuff that makes me sleepy, they can then peel all that away to find this object lesson. Or something. As a writer, let me tell you that this is crap. Books are not a mystery with a single correct answer tucked away inside for children to find like the prize in a Crackerjack box. They're stories. Messy works of word art that mirror life and make us feel things. All the things, if a book is particularly good. Sure, they'd be much easier to teach if, like the Goldstones claim, you could sort them neatly into checklists using supposed clues left by the author and then find the shining, perfect moral in the middle, but they just don't work like that. And no, I won't be shutting down my daughter's questions about her books if they "lead to dead ends or superficial observations" that don't "make steady identifiable progress," like they advise. The idea makes me feel vaguely ill, in fact. I also won't be following their advice to never let my daughter read books that aren't really hard and don't provide fertile ground for handy charts. I mean, heaven forbid she enjoy a good story without having to come up with "insights about character, plot, and even the author's motives." And let me tell you, no one can know the author's motives. Half the time, even the author has no idea. Stories that are created because the author had some kind of motive to teach kids a lesson usually suck. If I want someone to beat me over the head with morality about something or other for several hours, I'll call my mother. Also, for some sick reason the authors feel the need to give away the ending of every book they discuss, so if you haven't read one of them yet, skip that section.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lekeshua

    Love this idea of a Book Detective book club. Wish I was taught to read and critique books in this way. I've always had troubles taking a book to the next level after comprehension. I love how the children and parents participated together and opinions accepted as equals. A wonderful way to develop a love of learning and close relationships between book and child, parent and child, and adults and child. I am so inspired now use the tools provided and share with family and friends. Love this idea of a Book Detective book club. Wish I was taught to read and critique books in this way. I've always had troubles taking a book to the next level after comprehension. I love how the children and parents participated together and opinions accepted as equals. A wonderful way to develop a love of learning and close relationships between book and child, parent and child, and adults and child. I am so inspired now use the tools provided and share with family and friends.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne

    I think the subtitle of this book is uninformative, a lost opportunity to really tell people what it's about. "Parents, kids, and the bond of reading"? Sounds lovely. But what does it MEAN? People, this book is awesome. It's about teaching kids to be book detectives, how to find out what a book is REALLY about. It teaches you how to guide kids through a discussion of a book, identifying the protagonist and antagonist, what their conflict is about, how the setting and other elements contribute, an I think the subtitle of this book is uninformative, a lost opportunity to really tell people what it's about. "Parents, kids, and the bond of reading"? Sounds lovely. But what does it MEAN? People, this book is awesome. It's about teaching kids to be book detectives, how to find out what a book is REALLY about. It teaches you how to guide kids through a discussion of a book, identifying the protagonist and antagonist, what their conflict is about, how the setting and other elements contribute, and what the author is really trying to tell us. And it uses truly great books to do this, like Charlotte's Web and Animal Farm. Yes, Animal Farm. For kids. :)

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gitisha

    A great inspiration for parent-kid book club. It makes the kids think and teaches them how to interpret what the author is talking about. This book will definitely help me have meaningful book discussions with my kids.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    I thought this was a fine way to discuss literature with elementary schoolers. ...It's just my personal conviction that there are far, far better ways. The Goldstones present each fictional book as a mystery, in which your job as the reader is to become a book detective, searching for clues about who the protagonist and antagonist are, how the setting changes the meaning, and what the climax is. These are all needed skills, and I liked some of the ways they presented specific literary terms. Som I thought this was a fine way to discuss literature with elementary schoolers. ...It's just my personal conviction that there are far, far better ways. The Goldstones present each fictional book as a mystery, in which your job as the reader is to become a book detective, searching for clues about who the protagonist and antagonist are, how the setting changes the meaning, and what the climax is. These are all needed skills, and I liked some of the ways they presented specific literary terms. Some of their analyses were fun to consider--and right-on! I especially appreciated Babe: the Gallant Pig and Call of the Wild. And yet--even with these great analyses--their interpretations still felt flat and lacking. There is something at the core of my Lit-Major, English-teacher heart that defies seeing books primarily as puzzles to be solved. They are not primarily for dissection, for looking at--for Contemplation (to borrow a term from C. S. Lewis). They are primarily for participating in, "looking along," or Enjoyment (again borrowing from C. S. Lewis). There are certain things, scientific things, that can be learned by looking at the object; there are other things that can only be learned by looking along it, participating in it, soaking in the atmosphere of it and letting its influence pervade your mind and spirit. (Here I am leaning heavily on Lewis's "Meditation in a Toolshed," Michael Ward's Planet Narnia, and Philip Sidney's Defense of Poesy.) So, their literature-as-puzzle paradigm leaves me feeling downright icky for two reasons: 1. It seems to assume that there is only "one answer" to the book--and once they feel they've arrived at that answer, they actually "grade" the book based on whether the author delivers it well enough. Fully aware of the potential irony of my own habit of "grading" books on Goodreads, I don't like this. For example, The Giver loses points because the ending doesn't support what they've decided the book's full message definitely is. But what if the ending is there just for that reason: to give kids a book that defies easy answers and opens up multiple interpretations on purpose (because that whole society was built on easy answers)? What if it's the perfect ending, and you simply don't understand it because your analysis was too narrow? Look at the book holistically, not as parts to be analyzed, and maybe you'll change your mind--or, even better, the book will change you (see reason #2). I realize elementary school kids like black-and-white interpretations, so I can see the appeal of their "only one answer" method. But I also think it shortchanges the kids to leave them thinking a book can be solved like a Sudoku puzzle. 2. Rather, a piece of literature is "a speaking picture with this end--to teach and delight" (Sidney, Defense of Poesy). What is it supposed to teach? Virtue. I know that's considered an old-fashioned thing to say, but I'm in good company--thousands of years' worth. So when the elementary schooler reading group dissects the book, then grades the book based on the one answer their dissection has made evident to them--how do they learn virtue from that? Is taking this tactic opening the kids up to learn from the book, giving the book (so to speak) a certain level of authority over them as their teacher, or are they always assuming a position of authority over the book? How can you learn virtue from something you're examining in this way? Even with their excellent analysis of Babe: The Gallant Pig, does it leave the kids actually wanting to be more gallant? Not as far as I could see. It's looking at, not looking along, not participating. I think enjoying the book with no literary terms at all would do more to teach my kids virtue than this method. My philosophy of teaching literature is one I am fairly passionate about. So, though I liked the ways that the Goldstones teach kids to identify the antagonist, and though their reading group does sound fun to me, and though I am always grateful for anyone getting kids to read books--I also think they miss the most important point. So their method fell flat: presenting a strategy, but not necessarily inculcating love for literature.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amanda - Cover2CoverMom

    You can read all of my reviews on my blog -> Cover2CoverMom Blog *3.5 Stars* This was a very interesting little book about a husband & wife team that run book clubs for parents & their children.  The Goldstone team encourages book club members to be "book detectives" and work on breaking down books into their elements (characters: protagonist vs antagonist, setting, themes, etc.) to really dig into what the author was trying to convey with the books they read. The authors go through and talk about You can read all of my reviews on my blog -> Cover2CoverMom Blog *3.5 Stars* This was a very interesting little book about a husband & wife team that run book clubs for parents & their children.  The Goldstone team encourages book club members to be "book detectives" and work on breaking down books into their elements (characters: protagonist vs antagonist, setting, themes, etc.) to really dig into what the author was trying to convey with the books they read. The authors go through and talk about a selection of the books they frequently utilize in their book clubs in detail laying out questions they frequently ask & how they get members to think like a "book detective."  I would like to warn readers that Deconstructing Penguins includes spoilers of all the books discussed, so if you do not want to be spoiled for these books, you might not want to pick this up. I did think this would be a beneficial book for ELA teachers, librarians, parents, or youth book club leaders to pick up.   I really loved the idea of a parent-child book club as a way for parents to not only bond with their children, but also allow parents to instill a love for reading in their children. My only criticism of the book would be that I STRONGLY disagree with the Goldstone's on their opinion on which books children should be reading... "What children read is important.  The theory that it doesn’t matter what your child reads as long as he or she is reading something is plain wrong." I strongly disagree with this statement.  I subscribe to the theory that it doesn't matter what your children read as long as they are reading, whether that be graphic novels, comic books, sports magazines, etc.  The whole point is to instill the love for reading into children so that they will grow up to be life-long readers.  Allow those comic books and graphic novels to be gateways to fiction novels.  Allow sports magazines to be gateways to nonfiction books.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

    "The best part is that every September, the experience renews itself." (brb, sobbing.) "The best part is that every September, the experience renews itself." (brb, sobbing.)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Vivian

    If you are not yet involved with a parent and child reading group this book is going to make you want to begin one or join one. Not only that, it's going to put plenty of "tools in your belt" to pull it off with success! I loved all the examples they used. Admittedly I was surprised at some of their selections, but I am duly persuaded that they will all work if approached as presented here. In fact, one afternoon my sixteen-year-old mentioned that she needed to write an essay on "agency" or "free If you are not yet involved with a parent and child reading group this book is going to make you want to begin one or join one. Not only that, it's going to put plenty of "tools in your belt" to pull it off with success! I loved all the examples they used. Admittedly I was surprised at some of their selections, but I am duly persuaded that they will all work if approached as presented here. In fact, one afternoon my sixteen-year-old mentioned that she needed to write an essay on "agency" or "free choice". Having just read the chapter involving their discussion of THE GIVER by Lois Lowry I was primed to dive into a discussion involving some of the distopia novels we've read (THE GIVER not having been one of them for us). By the way, this chapter was tantalizingly titled "Obvious Characters, Contrived Endings, and Convenient Plot Devices" with the subtitle: "Grading the Author". A nice feature of "Deconstructing Penguins" are the book summaries which they include and their thoughts on how they go about selecting books to discuss. (Even though only Lawrence Goldstone is credited as author this is definitely the combined work of a husband and wife team.) Our library recently launched a monthly mother - daughter book group night for which I've volunteered to help lead the discussion of FROM THE MIXED UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER by E. L. Konigsburg. Happily, there is a sample discussion of this title included in the chapter "Crisis and Conflict : Identifying the Climax". Another personal observation I'd like to include is that I appreciated the approach they used for discussing Jack London's CALL OF THE WILD with fourth-graders (directly on the heels of reading and discussing ANIMAL FARM by George Orwell which they treat at length in their chapter "Putting It Together : What is the Book Really About?"). My daughter was required to read CALL OF THE WILD in middle school and found the book to be very distressing. Had her reading been followed up with a discussion such as is demonstrated here she would have come away with quite a different take on the work. I absolutely LOVED their chapter on poetry, or "Songs Without Music" as they put it. I wanted to copy the entire twenty page treatment and mail it to my father, who was my mentor into poetry. In their book discussions the Goldstones welcome remarks from both the parents and the children. Participants gain a respect for one another. The playing field is leveled and all come away enriched. Three cheers for this work! May it help launch a parent-child book discussion wave that swells to critical mass!!!!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn

    This book takes you through protagonist and antagonist characters(it's deeper and more subtle than I ever realized), how to discover a fiction author's reason for writing a book, how to run a parent/child bookclub, AND a bunch of individual books that they love to read with elementary-age school kids and why (I really love booklists). I didn't know Jack London was a socialist. These authors say that Buck going to be head of the wolf pack was London's way of saying that employees are suppressed a This book takes you through protagonist and antagonist characters(it's deeper and more subtle than I ever realized), how to discover a fiction author's reason for writing a book, how to run a parent/child bookclub, AND a bunch of individual books that they love to read with elementary-age school kids and why (I really love booklists). I didn't know Jack London was a socialist. These authors say that Buck going to be head of the wolf pack was London's way of saying that employees are suppressed and kept from being who they really are by their employers. THe title refers to their very first bookclub being about Mr. Poppers Penguins. I missed the fact that what made Mr. Popper different from his sleepy town is that he had a dream. There's a lot of great discussion that can go on around that. I missed it entirely--wondered why so many people liked it. I hope I can read and think differently about fiction having read this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Wendee

    This is a great how-to book for leading book discussions, especially with children. It is neat to learn from books at multiple levels. I can see how discussing the books we read can really make the impact they have on our lives more solidified and applicable. I was also impressed that book discussions with children AND parents together can have an even greater impact. One statement that really stood out was that it DOES matter WHAT children read. Some say that it doesn't matter what kids read as l This is a great how-to book for leading book discussions, especially with children. It is neat to learn from books at multiple levels. I can see how discussing the books we read can really make the impact they have on our lives more solidified and applicable. I was also impressed that book discussions with children AND parents together can have an even greater impact. One statement that really stood out was that it DOES matter WHAT children read. Some say that it doesn't matter what kids read as long as they are reading. However, there is a lot of fluff and junk in the world. If we want to encourage thinking and values, we parents need to care what our children read. Help them choose good books worth reading and read it with them. And then discuss the ideas in those books. And live the principles we learn.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sally

    Returned unfinished. It seemed that after the initial few chapters explaining how they got into parent-child book groups, each chapter was about a particular book. I skimmed the one about The Giver, because I really, really did not like that book. They very simply, yet thoroughly, analyzed the plot and problems and implications. I was impressed. I will definitely be checking this book out again, and the blueprint for understanding a book will stay with me. Highly recommended.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Trace

    I need to read this again.... An EXCELLENT resource for learning how to discuss literature with children. I had borrowed this from the library, but I'll be ordering my own copy (which says a lot about how much I value its message!). I need to read this again.... An EXCELLENT resource for learning how to discuss literature with children. I had borrowed this from the library, but I'll be ordering my own copy (which says a lot about how much I value its message!).

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ruchi

    I thought this book to be an incredible resource for kids.. i really liked the techniques such as approaching the book like a mystery, or the protagonist/antagonist techniques. Going to apply it with my child!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joanna

    This is a great book about reading critically for fun with grade school kids.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Anne Bogel

    If you ever read books with kids, it's worth reading through this how-to handbook at least once. If you ever read books with kids, it's worth reading through this how-to handbook at least once.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lynne

    Quick to read, but gives you lots to ponder. Great insight into how to get children to critically think about literature.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Abbey Dupuy

    Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone have created a solid template that adults could use to guide a children's and parents' book group in discussing almost any book. They have done this in a way that is accessible and easy to implement, given a willing group of adults and kids as participants. They have also shown parents a way to help their children become active readers who seek to understand the meaning of what they read and who tie their reading life to their loved experience. I appreciated their th Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone have created a solid template that adults could use to guide a children's and parents' book group in discussing almost any book. They have done this in a way that is accessible and easy to implement, given a willing group of adults and kids as participants. They have also shown parents a way to help their children become active readers who seek to understand the meaning of what they read and who tie their reading life to their loved experience. I appreciated their thoughts on the importance of quality books for children (debunking the whole "it doesn't matter what they read as long as they read" myth) and their arguments for why children should be taught to think critically about literature. I was pleased to see that the Goldstones both expect a lot from the children in their groups and offer them a lot of support as they're learning how to discuss books they have read. I did not expect so much of the book to be an amalgamated play-by-play of how the authors discussed particular books with their book groups. The second half, while offering some good insights on exploring basic literary elements with children, has a lot of "here is the question we asked, and one dad said this, and this particular child was wearing new gold earrings and the girl next to her was jealous." I suppose in some sense this could be useful, especially for someone who has limited experience working with children- a way of imagining how such a group might look and sound?- but I ended up skimming and flipping through a number of those sections. I still think the book as a whole is needed and could be helpful for anyone who is interested in facilitating kids' discussions of books. It goes far beyond typical questions and answers, offering strategies to support children in analyzing what they read and in developing their own informed critical opinions about it. Besides being an interesting thing to do with children, who are often very insightful in these discussions, literary analysis stretches brains and teaches children to think critically...and kids who can think critically are in everyone's best interest.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    I have very mixed feelings about this book. It certainly does a good job teaching how to analyze a book - its plot, characters, setting, underlining morals, etc. If you want to teach that to your child this book will give you a great framework. Something I'm sure will come in handy in high school and university. However, I'm afraid I don't agree with them about every author tucking away a single secret lesson they're trying to teach. I don't like the approach of analyzing the crap out of a book I have very mixed feelings about this book. It certainly does a good job teaching how to analyze a book - its plot, characters, setting, underlining morals, etc. If you want to teach that to your child this book will give you a great framework. Something I'm sure will come in handy in high school and university. However, I'm afraid I don't agree with them about every author tucking away a single secret lesson they're trying to teach. I don't like the approach of analyzing the crap out of a book and breaking it all down into a bunch of little parts and then putting it back together in one specific way. As an adult who thoroughly enjoys book clubs, if I went to one of theirs I'd never go back to a second. I think books can mean something different to every reader and that's ok. It's great to hear about a POV from a reader with a different life/background than me and appreciate their insights. I don't like the idea of guiding my child to the one lesson I've planned for them to learn. I like having meaningful back and forth discussions of what we got out of it, not "who is the protagonist" and "what does this teach us about society", blah blah. Idk, maybe my high school and college over-analytical teachers ruined it for me, but I think this type of analyzing totally kills books for me.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

    Ever wanted to start a book club? Never know what questions to ask your children to get a deeper discussion from the books they're reading? Want to know how to deconstruct any book and teach any child to become a "book detective"? This is your book. Such an easy, fast read packed with literal examples and discussions that you can apply to walk yourself and anyone else through a book to glean depth and a broader understanding. The beauty of this book is truly in the application. Applying the concept Ever wanted to start a book club? Never know what questions to ask your children to get a deeper discussion from the books they're reading? Want to know how to deconstruct any book and teach any child to become a "book detective"? This is your book. Such an easy, fast read packed with literal examples and discussions that you can apply to walk yourself and anyone else through a book to glean depth and a broader understanding. The beauty of this book is truly in the application. Applying the concepts from this book will really do more than just give you a well-informed reader. The application of this book is sure to change lives, how we interact with our children, how we view stories, authors, movies, and even how we choose to act in life. It really is all about applying this book. I would highly recommend having these conversations with your children or perhaps with yourself.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kristi

    Being both a newly passionate reader and a homeschooling mom working her way out of a job, this book was an amazing and encouraging read. The authors recount their parent-child book club journey giving numerous and specific examples of titles, topics, conversations, and methods of discussing good and great works of literature. Who would have thought we could introduce literary criticism to parents and their young children at the same time? I whole-heartedly agree with the premise of this work: “ Being both a newly passionate reader and a homeschooling mom working her way out of a job, this book was an amazing and encouraging read. The authors recount their parent-child book club journey giving numerous and specific examples of titles, topics, conversations, and methods of discussing good and great works of literature. Who would have thought we could introduce literary criticism to parents and their young children at the same time? I whole-heartedly agree with the premise of this work: “You wouldn’t believe someone who said it didn’t matter what your child ate as long as they ate something, and then fed them candy all day. Reading is no different.” In the end, this is a summarily engaging and helpful book. You just might be tempted to begin a club of your own.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I love their take on discussing books with kids! I used to teach middle school English, so helping kids discover elements like plot, setting, characters, and theme is nothing new to me. But I love the way they approach it! (And I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t know the fully accurate definitions of protagonist and antagonist until they explained them in this book.) They really encourage children to peel back the layers of a story, to find what the author was trying to say, and to think criticall I love their take on discussing books with kids! I used to teach middle school English, so helping kids discover elements like plot, setting, characters, and theme is nothing new to me. But I love the way they approach it! (And I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t know the fully accurate definitions of protagonist and antagonist until they explained them in this book.) They really encourage children to peel back the layers of a story, to find what the author was trying to say, and to think critically about both the message and the way the author presented it. I really wish I’d read this book while I was still teaching, but I’m looking forward to using their methods as I homeschool my own children!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Darla

    This book is a treasure. Readers of all ages can learn much from this relatively small volume. The authors report on the beginnings of a book group for grades 2-4 and their parents which started with a discussion of "Mr. Popper's Penguins." As they refined their process, their group expanded to higher grades as their initial members asked them to continue the group when they outgrew it. In addition to the information on decoding a book beginning with the protagonist/antagonist, identifying the cl This book is a treasure. Readers of all ages can learn much from this relatively small volume. The authors report on the beginnings of a book group for grades 2-4 and their parents which started with a discussion of "Mr. Popper's Penguins." As they refined their process, their group expanded to higher grades as their initial members asked them to continue the group when they outgrew it. In addition to the information on decoding a book beginning with the protagonist/antagonist, identifying the climax, grading the author, etc. provided by discussing real titles published for children, they also provide additional lists separated by grade level.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Fresh

    I started out iffy on this and couldn't decide if I was going to enjoy it. This is about a library's family reading group. They went through how they deconstructed a book in each chapter. I skimmed the chapters with books I hadn't read and fairly thoroughly read the ones that I was familiar with. It would be useful to have this book WITH you if you are trying to discuss a book with your family. Not everyone is familiar with the way they pull a book apart, but this could be helpful for drawing di I started out iffy on this and couldn't decide if I was going to enjoy it. This is about a library's family reading group. They went through how they deconstructed a book in each chapter. I skimmed the chapters with books I hadn't read and fairly thoroughly read the ones that I was familiar with. It would be useful to have this book WITH you if you are trying to discuss a book with your family. Not everyone is familiar with the way they pull a book apart, but this could be helpful for drawing discussions about classic books that your kids read. I did add a few of the books to our library holds list in hopes of reading them with my kids.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    While I'm not sure I want to ruin the sheer joy of reading a book like "Charlotte's Web" with literary analysis, I do appreciate the tools that the authors have laid out for helping children to think more deeply about books. I would also argue that some of their book choices for 4th and 5th graders have some darker themes that I would personally save for middle school. "The Giver" and "The Call of the Wild" have some raw material that I would personally wait to discuss until a child is a bit old While I'm not sure I want to ruin the sheer joy of reading a book like "Charlotte's Web" with literary analysis, I do appreciate the tools that the authors have laid out for helping children to think more deeply about books. I would also argue that some of their book choices for 4th and 5th graders have some darker themes that I would personally save for middle school. "The Giver" and "The Call of the Wild" have some raw material that I would personally wait to discuss until a child is a bit older.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cyndy Defnall

    Great insight and help in discussing books with young children. The youngest grade that the author had discussion with was second graders. She gives great examples throughout the book about leading book discussion with grades 2-5 and even three examples book of different grade levels at the end. This is a great read for parents of public school and homeschooled children as well as public and private school teachers. She approaches book discussions and digging in deep to the literature as a detec Great insight and help in discussing books with young children. The youngest grade that the author had discussion with was second graders. She gives great examples throughout the book about leading book discussion with grades 2-5 and even three examples book of different grade levels at the end. This is a great read for parents of public school and homeschooled children as well as public and private school teachers. She approaches book discussions and digging in deep to the literature as a detective, which I think kids would love, as the author has proven with her own experience.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    I tried to read this very quickly to pick up some ideas to use in our family, but not make too much of it all. I feel like our family is fairly inclined to read and interpret. I have huge issues with the notion that there is only one way to interpret a story (a deep seeded resentment from middle/high school). But there were decent suggestions in here that were worthwhile. And I appreciate the book recommendations. I learned about this book from a podcast on the Read Aloud Revival website, which I tried to read this very quickly to pick up some ideas to use in our family, but not make too much of it all. I feel like our family is fairly inclined to read and interpret. I have huge issues with the notion that there is only one way to interpret a story (a deep seeded resentment from middle/high school). But there were decent suggestions in here that were worthwhile. And I appreciate the book recommendations. I learned about this book from a podcast on the Read Aloud Revival website, which too has great book recommendations.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Yet another unfinished book.... wish I didn’t have to mark it as “read” to remind myself not to revisit this. This started out interesting but I couldn’t get much beyond the first couple chapters. Some interesting ideas for kid and adult book clubs, but I just wasn’t convinced that their method of discussion is one I would feel good out about implementing. I much preferred listening to the author talk on the Read Aloud Revival.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Molly Christensen

    I really didn't know what to expect about this book, but I enjoyed hearing how they turned books into mysteries to be solved and hearing how they broke them down to discuss with children. I do disagree with introducing some of the heavier topic books so early though. For example, Animal Farm and The Giver are introduced to 4th graders, and while the authors did do a good job of discussing with the kids, I personally wait till the kids are older. I really didn't know what to expect about this book, but I enjoyed hearing how they turned books into mysteries to be solved and hearing how they broke them down to discuss with children. I do disagree with introducing some of the heavier topic books so early though. For example, Animal Farm and The Giver are introduced to 4th graders, and while the authors did do a good job of discussing with the kids, I personally wait till the kids are older.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Alanna Truong

    Well worth the read! This gave so much insight into so many elementary school novels, I am so excited to read/reread with my kids! It also gives a good model for staring your own parent/child book club, which I hope to be able take part in some time in the future. Meanwhile, have to get practicing in finding the hidden mystery in some books 😊

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie O'keefe

    I was skeptical at first of their formulaic approach to reading, but as I went along with the process I longed to be a part of the book club described by the Goldstones. I ultimately realized that just as you need to learn the rules of grammar before you can write, so also you must understand the rules of crafting a story before you can comprehend it.

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