A part of any successful book launch in a guided reading lesson is allowing students to preview the text. Prior to starting the book, our first lesson on Lord of the Rings began on February 21, 2013. My students were amazed at the massive size of the text they were about to read. The edition we are using includes The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, all in one book (see Provisionals and Resources page of the blog). I asked my students to respond to the following question: What does the book feel like in your hands?
I received a variety of responses from expected to rather unexpected:
“This is a brick!”
“It looks like a dictionary.”
“It’s longer than the Quoran!” (my personal favorite)
“The cover feels like it is 3-D” (referring to the slightly-raised image of the one ring on the cover)
“The cover looks like real gold!” (another reference to the ring)
“It smells store-bought.”
“It’s the most glorious book ever!”
“I like how the pages feel on my hands.”
Many students complained of the book being too heavy. I also asked the students if they thought it was a good thing to be reading Lord of the Rings. Most of them felt it was and one said, “it’s good because you learn new words.” Another student looked at it and said, “there’s like a million words in here!”
As the students perused the book, they began to note the text features. One said, “ooh, it has an index!”. Some asked why there were maps in the book. I also gave the students opportunities to ask their own questions as they explored the book. Most of their questions were those I had anticipated, such as “What does Tolkien look like?”, “Why is it called The Lord of the Rings?”, “What does it say on the ring?”, to which another student replied, “Maybe it means something in Bilbo language!”. Some students were also curious about the use of runes in the text. Most students were not aware that the symbols were a form of written language, but most assumed they were just pictures.
After today’s lesson, their attention was primed and all were well-aware of the literary mission they were about to undertake.