The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 3 - Page 12


Sample prompts might be:

• Write about a time you saw someone treated unfairly.

• Write about a time when you were afraid of someone different from you.

• In this chapter, you read about Uri driving the streetcar like a maniac, so write about your craziest escapade.

These quick writes motivates reluctant writers when the teacher writes along with them.

Mini-lessons play an important role each day in deepening students’ comprehension. Besides literal comprehension, though, these lessons when coupled with discussion and writing, open our students’ hearts and help them feel empathy toward others. A final teaching chart, Probing Our Thinking (Table3) guides discussion, moving students from the literal to ever deeper considerations, including what can we do to save the world?


“Books are like truth serum,” says Rodman Philbrick in Freak the Mighty. A world without books as depicted in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a world filled with people inured from feelings. Though Milkweed is sad, it tells the truth about what people are capable of—ugly brutality and redeeming love. Using literature

not only meets the national literacy standards but more importantly teaches our youth about the effects of prejudice and bullying. The themes in literature show that the scars of violence and inhumanity can be redeemed with

love, empathy and heroism.

Teachers armed with powerful literature can heal the world one student at a time.


Altman, L.J. (2000). Amelia’s road. New York: Lee & Low Books.

Borba, M. (2001). Building moral intelligence: The seven essential virtues that teach kids to do the right thing. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Bradbury, R. (1951). Fahrenheit 451. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Calkins, L. M. (2003). Units of study. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

D’Ambrosio, R. (1970 ). No language but a cry. New York: Random House.

Dengler, M. (1996). The worry stone. Flagstaff, AZ: Cooper Square Publishing.

L’Engle, M. (Fall, 1993). Keynote at National Council of Teachers of English.

Philbrick, R. (1993 ). Freak the mighty. New York: Scholastic.

Spinelli, J. (2003). Milkweed. New York: Random House.

Table 2