Monday, February 14, 2011

Alcatraz Smedry meets Percy Jackson

I found the Percy Jackson and the Olympians Hardcover Boxed Set (Percy Jackson & the Olympians) at a discount book store several years ago. Recently in my quest to find audio CD's to exercise with I borrowed The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Book 1 from the library. I am always looking for ways to distract myself from how much I dislike exercising. As I found myself getting lost in the reader's voice, I realized that listening to a good reader inspired some interesting thoughts. As I listened to the opening of a story I had previously read, I was making connections I had not made when I had just read the books.

One of the exercises I used to do when I used literature circles with my students was asking them to make connections with other books. How would the characters in this book relate to characters in other books they had read? It has been a while since I helped students create questions for literature circles. However, as the reader described Percy Jackson and his experience at school, my mind immediately made the connection to Alcatraz. I wondered how these two boys would have dealt with each other. What would a story be like if the two attended school together prior to setting off on their adventures? Would they have been friends? How would their powers have interacted? Would they have been allies or enemies? Would they have understood each other's worlds?

When I taught students, these were questions many did not have experience with answering. While they eventually got used to exploring these types of questions, in the beginning it was challenging to get students to think beyond traditional expectations. Sadly, many only are taught to read the book, answer the questions and move on to the next book. If reading a series of books by genre or author there might be some expected questions. However, most of my students had little experience thinking out of the box about literature.

It would be interesting to see what kids would say about Alcatraz and Percy. There is no right or wrong answer. There is enough supporting material to suggest they could be friends or that their issues would end up having them choose not to be united.

I will be exercising to Percy Jackson while reading Alcatraz Versus The Shattered Lens. I will have more time to think about how these two characters would have interacted. This is a great activity to try with your own children as you read to them. Choose age appropriate questions and this kind of reading comprehension practice can be started with even young readers. Children can find ways to compare and contrast their favorite characters learning valuable skills in a fun way.

Why is there a sea creature picture? Well those of you who have read Percy Jackson will know.

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