How to Deconstruct a Penguin

penguinsI recently came across this book Deconstructing  Penguins by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. It’s basically explaining how you can establish a book club for kids and their parents. The Goldstone’s conducted their own parent/child book club for years with such great success, that they decided to put the detais in a book for the rest of us.

Up until recently, I haven’t been a big fan of the novel study curricula available to homeschoolers. These are typically geared towards elementary school kids and are loaded with somewhat predictable questions seeking just as many predictable answers. In short form, if the child has read said book with minimal interest, then it is most likely they will find these types of questions on the fringe of boring. For these reasons I discarded many of these types of novel studies.

Enter Deconstructing Penguins. This book was like a breath of fresh air. It made literary analysis; dare I say…exciting to kids! Not only are kids and their parents encouraged to read the book together, the book created opportunities to get together with other families who have read a particular children’s novel, and dig a little deeper with regards to what the story was really about. I found it almost effortless to introduce the kids to things like protagonist, antagonist, setting, climax, and plot. I also discovered that such an approach to digging deeper into literature really lent itself well to a group setting. The kids fed off each other, brainstormed together, shared different points of view, and…..wait for it…..LEARNED together.

I find as homeschoolers, there are vast amounts of quality time spent in independent learning. Occasionally, I find independent learning can sometimes lack opportunities for our kids to hear others’ points of view. I personally see this as not only beneficial, but also necessary. So, where time allows, I would like to do more of it, and Deconstructing Penguins has provided our homeschool with just such an opportunity.

I highly recommend this book and found it worthy of the valuable real estate in my resource library. Give it a read, and give it a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised – and my kids can’t wait to do the next book! (oh, and btw – the parents had fun too!)



Filed under Books, Curriculum, Language Arts, Learning

6 responses to “How to Deconstruct a Penguin

  1. For more information about starting a family book club, read The Parent-Child Book Club: Connecting With Your Kids Through Reading (Melissa Stoller & Marcy Winkler, HorizonLine Publishing, 2009). Homeschooling families will definitely appreciate this book! It’s a comprehensive resource presenting easy-to-follow, practical, and economical ideas for organizing and conducting a parent-child book club for children ages 4-9. Significantly, our book includes 20 fully-tested “Book Club Model Guides” that offer everything busy parents need to run successful meetings. Through reading and discussing books, and engaging in related enrichment activities, families will foster meaningful connections to last a lifetime.

  2. Lawrence Goldstone

    Thanks so much for the kind words. People such as you and the members of your group are the precise reason Nancy and I wrote Deconstructing Penguins. Curiously, we have spoken to any number of school administrators, all of whom waxed enthusiastic about the book, but, after five years, not one of them has instituted a book group program along the lines we suggested. Home-schoolers, on the other hand, seem to have taken to the notion with much more energy. We were convinced that the reading experience could and should be enhanced from what one would call the “traditional method,” and nothing has changed our minds. Nancy and I wish all of you continued success. (And it is more fun, isn’t it?)

    • homeschooljourney

      Hi Larry,
      Thanks for stopping by my blog and posting your comment. Wow – what an honor. Your book is circling our homeschool community and it has been very well received. Our little parent/child book club has just finished The Phantom Tollbooth, and we had a great time digging deeper into this book together. Your book made it so easy to conduct the study, and YES it is so much more fun!

      • Lawrence Goldstone

        We ended up running our groups into the ninth grade. We had some amazing discussions about classics such as The Great Gatsby, All the King’s Men, and The Ox-Bow Incident, as well as some less well known gems such as Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture. The book editor for the Connecticut Post sat in on our discussion of Catcher in the Rye and said it was better than his adult group. So, keep going and if you ever need advice on anything, just shoot me an e-mail.

  3. Thanks for the recommendation of this book! I’ve ordered it from the library to see if it will help us start our own group.

  4. Pingback: The Phantom Tollbooth « A Day In The Life Of Our Homeschool Journey

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