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Samantha Monaco

Realistic Fiction Module

6 min read



"According to the article Shut My Mouth Wide Open: Realistic Fiction and Social Action written by Cynthia A. Tyson, does she feel that fairy tales should be taught throughout the curriculum? Why or why not?"

This was an amazing article that I really enjoyed reading. It was so real and the teacher did a great job explaining everything that she was saying. I would say that Cynthia A. Tyson has a stand where it depends on the reader. In the article, she mentions that, "This suggested to me a need for more con- temporary themes in reading material for some readers." This point was made after she saw a group of African American males in her classroom who struggled to remain interested in fairy tales such as Little Red Riding Hood. The boys would make comments about the unrealistic features and what the grandma could have done. They weren't able to read these and learn from them because they couldn't see past the unrealistic aspects. So, this teacher decided that maybe for this group of boys, she should move to a more contemporary realistic fiction. She had a goal of "opening wide" the mouths of these boys through realistic fiction who had "shut mouths" to the genre of fairy tales. In order to test her hypothesis, she met with seven of these boys throughout the year and read contemporary realistic fiction. As she had predicted, this opened up a whole new world that the fairy tales never did, for THIS group of boys. I don't believe that she's putting down fairy tales as a whole because everyone has a different learning style. What doesn't work for these boys (fairy tales), might work for another group of students. In my opinion, I would say that she believes it depends on the group of students and their individual needs. This group of African American males became able to relate their lives to the new stories she was telling and this really interested them. They were able to compare and contrast their lives to the stories and then even have discussions about their communities and way to fix certain issues. So, this genre, was able to tighten their literacy skills as it also worked on their ability to be civically competent and know about the issues of a society. For this group, she wouldn't recommend fairy tales to be taught throughout the curriculum. For another group, she might.

"In the article Depictions and Gaps: Portrayal of U.S. Poverty in Realistic Fiction Children's Picture Books why is it that some areas in the books reflect the reality in the United States, but areas such as poverty are misrepresented? Provide examples and support your thoughts."

This article was also interesting. In this article, the author discussed how the areas of poverty are misrepresented. It talked about how many children's picture books, there are stereotypical situations. In the beginning, the author mentioned how students were unable to find "themselves" or the environment they lived in in the books. They found that children's books rarely showed children living in poverty but on the rare ocassion they did, it was a stereotype of certain races. The author even mentioned that sometimes these books could give off the sense of race and poverty being intertwined which is something we've and still are working so hard to get rid of the notion. They would find African American and Latino families to be depicted as the poor families but underrepresented white families which is feeding into unfair stereotypes. When they analyzed the books, they found that contemporary rural poverty was practically being ignored. They also found that the books were overrepresentative of the white population at 66% in the books and only 46% in real life. They concluded that more books must include contemporary rural poverty to more accurately depict what is going on. The gap needs to be filled and it must be filled accurately so that we can start, "educating tomorrow’s leaders of the need for acceptable living standards and opportunities for all people."


"Write a short realistic fiction mini lesson. You can choose how you would like to incorporate realistic fiction into in. Think about how culture, ethnicity, income level, and interests would relate to your age group and through realistic fiction. Choose a realistic fiction text to support your lesson that is appropriate to the chosen age group. Make it interactive and fresh, try to gear it towards an age group that you have not tried before, experiment!"

For my realistic fiction mini lesson, I have chosen the book "Shiloh" by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. This lesson is geared for fourth grade which is a lesson that I have yet to create any lesson plans for or even work with. "Shiloh" is a book that incorporates realistic aspects such as abuse, honesty, equality, justice, pets and honor. This is a book that I remeber learning about and it's one that captures most students' interest. For this lesson, we are going to read the book and then we will create a poster that includes things such as the elements, important events, character traits, theme/message and problem/solution. We will conduct this poster as a whole group after done reading the book. Before we create this poster, we will have a discussion on the book where I will ask literary questions such as the following:

Where does Marty find Shiloh? How does he finally get the dog to follow him?

Besides the fact that Judd Travers is cruel to animals, what are the other reasons Marty dislikes Judd?

How does Marty explain the food he saves at the end of each meal for Shiloh?

Judd is always complaining about how much Shiloh disobeys him, so why does he care so much about getting Shiloh back?

How does finding Shiloh change Marty's opinion about the way all animals should be treated? For instance, how does he say he would get rid of a snake?

After praying, Marty decides that it's okay to hide Shiloh from Judd Travers because he's protecting the dog, and God would approve of that. How does Marty discover that one lie, no matter how noble, leads to another?

These are only a few questions that will be asked. As you can see, these questions are discussing important issues. They're discussing how animals should be treated, lying/telling the truth, etc. These are all realistic features of an environment that students should learn about.