There's a Book for That, Day 8: The Hundred Dresses, part two

31 days large There's a Book for That, Day 7: The Hundred Dresses, part two

Yesterday, I talked a little bit about the inspiration and resources I have found to begin a book club at our homeschool co-op. Today, I am going to delve into what the discussion looked like with our little group.

We started our time together by reading a picture book, Anitole, together. This was a great way to start because we could read the book and still have a good amount of time to talk about the book within the confines of our allotted class period. As I explained yesterday, I began with a discussion of genres, having the girls name as many genres as they could think of. Then I challenged them to choose just one of the genres that could be one umbrella genre. This proved to be a little more difficult for them, though they had some great ideas. Finally, we settled, with some guidance from me, on mystery. This transitioned into a quick overview of the parts of the story. I purposely kept this short and succinct, using the chart from Teaching the Classics, because the concept feels somewhat abstract until you really dive in and look closely at a story.


So with the idea that every story is a mystery and the consistent parts of a story in our minds, I read Anitole to the group. Just by looking at the girls faces, I could see that they were listening carefully for clues. The discussion that followed was great considering our lack of experience with the process.

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The next week (We are meeting for a total of 6 weeks.), we read the first 2 chapters of The Hundred Dresses together, and immediately we started asking questions. I pointed out to the girls that asking questions is what keen detectives, and readers, do. The remainder of the class time was spent having an in-depth discussion setting and touching briefly on the characters. The photo shows our notes in all their raw detail. One interesting thing to note is that The Hundred Dresses contains illustrations, and the illustrations sometimes affected the girls’ interpretation of the setting. This was an important teachable moment. Whenever someone would offer evidence of the setting based upon an illustration, I would challenge them to find evidence in the text to back it up. This lead to further discussion about an illustrator’s role in telling the story.

Please excuse the blurriness of this photo. Please excuse the blurriness of this photo.

For the next week, the girls and I read chapters 3 & 4, and our discussion focused heavily on the characters. You can see from the photos that we reviewed our discussion from the week before and then looked very closely at the characters. To give each girl a chance to participate, I had them write down a characteristic of one the characters and then find some evidence to back it up, noting the page numbers. This was a great exercise and really helped us as we moved forward with our discussions in later weeks.

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Our third discussion for The Hundred Dresses focused on beginning to fill in the story chart, as you can see in the picture. And we also began to make predictions, based on the evidence we already have, as to the theme or message the author wants to convey. At this point we had read through chapter 6 and had a lot to go on. We each took a notecard and wrote our suspected theme on one side and our evidence to prove it on the other side, then discussed. To deepen our discussion of theme, I shared “Outside Looking In,” a song by Jordan Pruitt. We looked closely at the lyrics while we listened to a recording of it. The concise nature of song makes the theme easier to spot, and this song in particular is a clear parallel to the book.

Our fourth and final discussion will take place in just a few days and the week after that we will have a “book party.” I’ll be sure to post the details of that. Since I don’t have actual notes about what we have done, I will share with you my plans.

We will complete the story chart together, now that we have read through the entire book, and we will revisit our assumptions about the characters and setting to confirm that they are correct based on the details of the story. Then we will focus on theme. I will give the girls a new notecard and repeat the process from the week before, writing their idea of the theme on one side and their evidence on the other. I am predicting that this will lead to a lively discussion since a few different themes could be seen as valid, depending on which character’s perspective we look from. I also plan to share the quote below and this poem by Mother Teresa with the girls and have them make connections with them.

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