Why Literature Units Click with Kids
by Suzy Red


We live in a sleepy little Texas town where our two traffic lights and sprinkling of streetlights often brown out whenever the mayor turns on his electric razor, so we were in for a surprise when we hitched up our bags to an airplane one summer.  We could hardly wait to get an up close view of history in our nation's capital! 

The first time we ever saw Washington D.C., it was from the air, and we were awestruck.  After we landed and rented a car, we were car-, bus-, and taxi- struck.  We bumbled our way by monument after monument, museum after museum, receiving all manner of horn honks and unfriendly gestures as we craned our necks to try to identify each one.   It was clearly not a place we could maneuver through by ourselves in our own vehicle, let alone enjoy!


(Many of our students are a lot like we were that summer.  Eager, excited, a little green in the skills department, they can hardly wait for an exciting adventure in learning.   But, when the bumbling starts, the detours around big words and unfamiliar concepts, they, too, often decide that it is clearly NOT a place they want to maneuver through by themselves, let alone, enjoy!) 

On our second day, we parked the car and decided to find a hand to hold.  A tour guide in D.C. was exactly what we needed!  Onboard a caterpillar on wheels, with a brilliant leader, we came up close and personal to the treasures of our national capital.  We got out and touched the bricks in the Washington Monument.  We sat at the feet of Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial.  We sang patriotic songs!  We played in the museums.  We watched movies.  We asked questions, laughed, and cried.  We fell in love with our country.

Our kids are no different.  They need a strong guide who will inspire them to get onboard, to come up close and personal to the characters in books, to problem solve with them, to discover answers, to touch, sing, laugh, and cry.  Well designed Literature Units in the hands of open, caring, innovative teachers do just that. 
           They give students a chance to interact. 

           They inspire kids to question. 

           They invite children to talk. 

           They take them across the street to the library to learn more about a topic. 

           They open their eyes to the math in history and the music in science.

           They weave simple skills into deep understanding through application. 

           They insist on the synthesizing concepts into important projects.

           They allow students fail and try again.

           They show kids what character in action IS and inspire them to pursue it.

           They forge new paths that thrust students into a lifelong love of learning.

After our tour of D.C., we knew where we were!  We knew what to do there, and we came back time and again to discover that there is always something new to treasure.  We think integrated Literature Units will do the same thing for your kids, but make no mistake...you are the essential tour guide who will, at the end of the school year be able to sit in the back of the caterpillar on wheels and enjoy watching your kids doing all the work and loving it!

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