As we read and write in our class we are always discussing writer’s craft.
I sometimes pause while reading to point out techniques author’s use to make their writing more engaging. We examined foreshadowing the other day as I read aloud to the grade fives.
I am reading “Hana’s Suitcase” by Karen Levine to the grade fives. It is the true story of Hana Brady, a Jewish girl living in Czechoslovakia, who was sent to Auschwitz during World War Two. The story is told as a teacher in Japan searches for information about children of the Holocaust and ended up receiving Hana’s suitcase.
We read of New Year’s Eve 1938/39, there were rumours of what was to come but life was still good for the Brady family.
Despite bad times, the Bradys were determined to celebrate the coming of 1939. On New Year’s Eve, after a feast of Turkey, sausage, salami and pudding, the children got ready to play the traditional game of predicting the future. Hana, George, and their young cousins from nearby towns were given half a walnut into which they each wedged a small candle. A large basin of water was dragged into the middle of the room. Each child launched a little walnut boat into it. Eleven-year-old George’s boat wobbled in the water, turned round and round, and finally came to a stop, lopsided. Eight-year-old Hana launched hers and, for a moment, it glided along without a quiver. Then it shook, tuned on its side, and the candle hit the water and went out.
I asked the class to make some predictions base on the final sentence. Using our background knowledge about the war and the Nazi’s and what happened during the Holocaust, we were able to use this example of foreshadowing to predict that Hana would probably die in a concentration camp.
Today I read more of the book which led to a discussion about anti-Semitism. One student pointed out that the way the Jews were treated was like racism and I took the opportunity to teach them what anti-Semitism means. We talked about how some people decide to hate others based on fear and difference. I told them about the book I am reading at home now, “A Midwife in Venice”, which is about a Jewish midwife and her husband who lived in Venice in the 1500s and anti-Semitism was rife then also. We discussed how it dates back to the days of the Pharoah’s in Ancient Egypt.
The students are really interested in social justice issues and fairness. The writer’s craft analysis comes from their interest in the content of the text.