Life Lessons

Stories, true or otherwise, carry meaning and can teach the reader something about life.  Today during Reader’s Workshop, we explored the purpose of narrative nonfiction.  We read Ivan: The Remarkable Story of a Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate, and I invited students to ponder these questions:

  • Why was this story worth telling?
  • Why should it never be forgotten?
  • What lesson does it teach?


The discussions that ensued were rich and varied.  One cluster of students focused on the innate need for family or companionship.  Another group talked about the importance of respecting nature, including animals.  A partnership intently discussed the parallels to the Golden Rule.  This text sparked so many great conversations, and when I sent students off for their independent reading, they were ready to search for the deeper meaning and life lessons woven into their current texts.

I never cease to be amazed at the power of literature to ignite conversation and thinking.  And, on a side note, the long request list for The One and Only Ivan is making me think that maybe I should purchase another copy!


Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana, and Betsy at Two Writing Teachers for creating a place for writers to share their work and hosting the March Slice of Life Story Challenge!


4 thoughts on “Life Lessons

  1. What a great class! I want to try these questions with my 4th graders. We have discussions about our read-aloud book, but I really like the idea of giving them questions that can transfer to their choice reading. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great book to use with finding life’s lessons! We are in the middle of our biography projects and I find it is often difficult for my third graders to put into words what it is we can learn from the particular person they have been reading about. I am going to try this tomorrow and see if we can dig a little deeper after having our own discussions. Thank you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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