Trying something new– this post also contains reflections & instructions on an activity that could be used in the English classroom in response to Shaun Tan’s picture book, Rules of Summer.
I would use this activity as an energizer hook to engage students at the beginning of the school year. It seems fitting given that Tan’s book is about summer! Sometimes it seems difficult to see how we can bring more seemingly ‘juvenile’ texts in the classroom, like graphic novels (read: not comics!) or picture books/ kids books, but hopefully we can overturn that thinking through this book/ activity. Rules of Summer can be read together as a class, without giving students a premise about what the book is about. They should be reassured that if they don’t understand the context of the book or the specifics upon first read, that’s perfectly okay! Each reader has a different interpretation of a text, and this book certainly encourages a use of the imagination in its consumption. Students will be directed to pay attention and consider the (intentional) use of colours, symbolism and imagery, the drawings, repetition throughout the book, a possible theme, overall message, etc. Students can be broken up into groups to discuss an assigned page, or their favourite page, and discuss with each other with a set of guided questions to report back to the larger class. It’s important that the teacher doesn’t put values on student responses as correct or incorrect. There is often a tendency to over-analyze texts and render them lifeless and unenjoyable after picking and prying each word apart for deeper meaning. Tan’s text is meant to be enjoyed!
Let me know what you think! This book is so worth the purchase, both children and adults will enjoy the read. What your favourite rule?
Here are some of my own rules!
View the full post, explanation, and my own example of this activity on Storify!