A Wrinkle In Time for Second Graders?

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A Wrinkle In Time for Second Graders?

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Originally posted on: Sat, 21 Jan 1995 by Kathleen Jo Powell Hannah


Chris Saad writes:
I read _A Wrinkle in Time_ aloud to a class of 2nd graders. It was over some kids’ heads, but many other kids loved it and looked forward to each day’s chapter.

Monica Edinger replies:
Oh, I wish you hadn’t done that! Those kids’ heads you read over may well have been turned off for good. That is a mighty long book to read to 2nd graders, especially for those who were not enjoying it. I am sure there are other books that more of the class would have enjoyed that connect to astronomy. I’m glad some looked forward to it, but what about those who didn’t?


I’m interested in this dichotomy. If we do as Chris would do, we interest smart kids & bore not-so-smart ones. If we do as Monica would do, we interest not-so-smart kids & lose smarter ones. Which is the lesser of the two evils? I (and probably many others on this list) feel as if I was the victim of the least-common-denominator method of education; no one really expected me to live up to my potential, so I probably wasn’t introduced to a lot of books that might have pushed me a bit harder. Obviously, the best teachers are aware of this & try to recommend books that will suit the various levels of intellect in their classes. But not all of them do. What are everyone’s thoughts on this subject: do we challenge above average students, ask average students to struggle to understand, and lose below average students; or do we challenge below average students and bore average and above average? Or is there some other way to handle this?


Originally posted on Sat, 21 Jan 1995 by Faythe Dyrud Thureen

Chris Saad: How fortunate your second graders were to have you read aloud to them A Wrinkle in Time, a beautifully-written, exciting book. Most children don’t have access to such books until their reading ability lines up with the book’s reading level. Their minds, however, are ready to handle the content long before most of their reading abilities. I read this book, as well as all the Narnia books, the Laura Ingalls Wilders books (complete with Mom’s comments and discussion), and many others to my son and daughter BEFORE they started school. As teenagers, they still make comments that remind me that they remember them well. –When it comes to read alouds, I think it’s good occasionally to ere on the side of reading over a couple kids’ heads rather than never challenging and delighting most of them.

Originally posted on: Sat, 21 Jan 1995 by fairrosa


On Sat, 21 Jan 1995, Kathleen Jo Powell Hannah wrote:
I’m interested in this dichotomy. If we do as Chris would do, we interest smart kids & bore not-so-smart ones. If we do as Monica would do, we interest not-so-smart kids & lose smarter ones. Which is the lesser of the two evils?


First of all, 2nd graders who cannot enjoy or grasp _Wrinkle in Time_ are not necessarily not-so-smart kids. Do we really “lose” the “smarter” kids if we wait until they are 4th-6th grade to share that book with them or to share that book with them in smaller group or one-on-one?

I’m in the most part favoring a somewhat “elite education.” I, ever since I was in junior high, have believed that people (I never thought of myself as a “kid” or “small adult” but always a “person”) who have more potential should get more encouragement to develop their talents/capabilities/whatever-you-call-it. But, I also realize as I grew older that I often say “Oh, that book (or that thing, or that music…). I read it when I was 10 (11, 12, 13..). Yeh, it’s fine. It’s alright.” And then, if I’m lucky, I’ll re-read that book and be surprised that I didn’t see many more sophisticated layers of the book as a younger me. Then, I become a little more cautious at recommending a book to a young person just because he or she is “capable” of reading through the book without stopping every 3rd word to check the dictionary. I really don’t want to “rob” the many wonderful meanings or allusions of a good book from a young person.

My 8th grade teacher once said to me, “Why do you want to live ahead of your age? Stay here and enjoy the only one “14th” year of your life and wait till you’re 17 to enjoy that age.” I took her advice and stopped being an “old child.” I am forever indebted to her for all the wonderful friendship and happiness of a teenager I had!


Originally posted on: Mon, 23 Jan 1995 by Monica R. Edinger

fairrosa writes:
“I’m in the most part favoring a somewhat “elite education.”

Me too! Of course there are 2nd graders who will love “A Wrinkle in Time.” They should be encouraged to read it or have it read to them. Chris described reading it to a class to enrich his astronomy unit. I think there is a big difference between reading a book aloud to a whole heterogeneous class and inviting individual children or a small group to read it.

I have a reputation at my school as providing a “cerebral” curriculum (whatever that means!) Some parents want it, others think I should be teaching high school rather than fourth grade! So, I totally believe in teaching above, not to the so-called lowest common denominator. Now, Chris may have totally won over most of his kids with his reading of “Wrinkle in Time” just because of his enthusiasm. I’m just concerned about the percentage of kids in the group who were totally put off. Meg and Calvin are way beyond 2nd grade and some of the stuff about tesselating is pretty complicated. I just have an image of some of those seven year olds totally lost day after day as the book was read to them.


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