Substantive Education

January 15, 2009

Simple Writing Exercise No. 3

pigOne of my favorite books is The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka. If you haven’t read the story you need to get a copy from your local library…or buy it. It’s a keeper. It’s the story of the Three Little Pigs told from the wolves perspective. Full of laughs and twists that you missed in the original, this retelling brings new life to the story.

I use this book in my creative writing classes and it’s one of the most rewarding classes I teach. Each year I’m amazed at the stories this one book generates. (One year I had a student tell the story of the Three Little Pigs from the perspective of a worker at Home Depot who was selling them the building supplies and listening to each of their plans.) After reading the book we make a list of other fairy tales that everyone is familiar with. As soon as we have a good list we begin to talk about the different characters in the story and how the story would be different if someone else were telling it.

Can you imagine Cinderalla told from the evil step-sisters perspective or perhaps the Giant telling us about that criminal Jack who climbed a beanstalk and broke into his house. Using this book as a guide children can create great stories out of stories they are already familiar with.

For many children telling a story from a different perspective can be quite challenging. At first you may just get a retelling of the original story with very little deviation. The idea of telling a story from another’s perspective may take several illustrations before they catch on to the idea. If they just don’t seem to get it, don’t sweat it, just put this exercise away for a time and come back to it down the road. That’s the nice thing about homeschooling, we don’t have to stick to a strict timeline and this exercise is fun in 4th grade or high school so don’t push it if it isn’t making sense to your child. Just enjoy the story and move on.cheese

After you have finished your story you may want to follow up with another book by the same author that involves the retelling of several other fairy tales. I’ve found that it’s best to save this book for after your child is done with their story. The Stinky Cheeseman uses so many different fairy tales that students could get frustrated that the author has used up all the good stories and they can’t think of another one to tell.

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