"We met for the first time. She is a very engaging student. She has several different assignments to complete this summer revolving around the novel 'The Book Thief'.
After reviewing the assignments she is to complete, we read together the first chapter, and discussed some of the figurative language found there. She correctly identified alliteration and imagery as we ran across them in the text. We also discussed predicting themes (the book thief suggests that books and criminality will both be themes the author touches on).
Perhaps the most challenging portion for her was identifying the speaker in the first chapter. In the book, Death is a compassionate, somewhat harried, and humorous narrator. The entire first chapter is told in Death's voice, from his perspective. However, she found it challenging to overcome her preconception (based on the movie) that the story is only told from the POV of the main character, Liesel.
I challenged her on this, asking her to prove how she could tell it was Liesel, or if the text was ambiguous, leaving an opening for another character (who we nicknamed Joe for the purpose of this exercise). After she presented her rationale, I presented points from the text, explaining how Death fit my rationale. Despite this, she was fairly certain it was still Liesel.
I challenged her to read the next chapter before my next session with her and to find further supporting evidence that the narrator of the first chapter is Liesel (a 9 year old girl). If she cannot find evidence that it is Liesel narrating, then she is to present a new take on who is narrating. From there, we will look at 'why did the author choose this character to narrate? what purpose does it serve in the story? as a literary device?'.
My goal with this is two fold: 1) that she will acknowledge the layers of storytelling (largest being 'why did the author write this', smallest being 'what happened at this particular moment to a character'). From this we will work on identifying the layers in a novel, which will help her better summarize topics and discard irrelevant details.
2) This exercise and the discussion that stems from it will provide her with several points for her first Journal response and starters for her worksheets."