Rewriting Comprehension

Drawing by kateatsmouse

Here at Living Outside the Lines we think reading the classics is fun! It’s because we make it fun. There are so many new and exciting modern stories to choose from that the idea of reading an old book might seem dismal. And, you know what, it just might be a dreary experience without a little help to spice it up. In a previous post, A Timeless Beginning, we talked about how digging into the context the author’s life or the setting in which he placed his characters brings an old book to life. A themed meal accomplishes the same thing. We do both of these activities at our literature club meetings, but we also prepare exciting projects. In my opinion, the effort behind the scenes of the project gives a workout to critical thinking skills and the enjoyment is found in the presentation of the project.

For Hamlet our literature club is rewriting the play and acting it using puppets. If you want to see the project sheet I gave the kids I’m happy to share it with you.

Why do we rewrite stories?

Our club has two reasons for doing it: it’s fun and we get to know the story more intimately. Think about it. One Sunday afternoon, you find a comfy place to rest and pick up your copy of Hamlet. By Sunday evening you have finished the story and maybe you’re cooking dinner. Story over.

But what if you were assigned to rewrite the whole play and shorten it at the same time? Every important twist and turn needs to be included. What to cut? What to include? See what I mean? You really get to know a story this in this way in order to rewrite and maintain the essence of the theme(s).

Why is important to know a story intimately?

Not every story should be rewritten. That would take the fun out of reading. The purpose is to get inside the workings of a story, the way a mechanic works under the hood of your car. You see, after completing this exercise, knowledge of scenes, plot, motivations of characters, setting and the devices in the story like allusions, metaphors, and writing style belongs to you in a more constructive way than it did on that Sunday afternoon.

Another benefit takes root when you read the next story on your reading list. A few of the interworking parts that you found under the hood of Hamlet will sneak into you comprehension.. Give it a try sometime. Start with something short that has depth to it –maybe a poem or a short story – and see what happens.

Trivia: The Lion King is a rewrite of Hamlet. Who knew?

What about you? Have you rewritten a story before? What do you think about this idea?

Want Help Starting Your Book Club? Read This Post.

Want Help Starting Your Book Club? Read This Post.

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