The invisible threads hanging out of books

Hanging out of a book: pull me, please!

"What do you do with readers?" I asked in my talk on using graded readers the other day (and Hi! if you're coming to the session in Cordoba this Thursday). "I get the learners to read it and then ask questions about it," someone said. That's ok, as far as it goes, but I think you really need to do a lot more than that to interest teenagers (or adults for that matter) in books (ugh!) nowadays.

I fell in love with Spanish as a language when I was still a teen myself, thanks to reading the novels and short stories of Julio Cortázar. In Rayuela, his most famous novel, he talks about "un hilo tendido más allá, saliéndose del volumen", a thread hanging out of the book in other words.

Books have got threads that hang out of them: they are often invisible but if you look for them and pull, you can get so much more out of any book. If your reader is The Princess Diaries, for example, you can merely ask "What's the name of Mia's boyfriend?"; and anyone who knows the answer has read the book (or else just had the answer whispered to them!).

But "Why doesn't she break up with him" or "Should she break up with him?" is a thread you can pull on and get so much more out of.

And if you get your learners to do some of the creative tasks I suggested (such as the one with Wordle), ones that work around and start out from the text, your learners are not just pulling on the threads that hang out of the book, they're actually tying their own things to the ends, and are thus participating and engaged.

See also
All of the tasks for graded readers that I suggested.

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One Comment

  1. Here's another great idea: have two characters from books (not necessarily the same book!) go on a blind date together.

    Source: a great blog, Writing Prompts.

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