Sunday, January 15, 2012

Teaching a Lesson Through Books for Kids with Maryann B. Sawka

“Close your eyes. Imagine yourself sitting on the beach, with the squeaking sound of seagulls as they glide along above your head, diving and rising along with the swirling tide as the surf announces its approach with a thunderous crash onto the beach. Use your imagination; focus on your senses so that with closed eyes you can visualize the scene unfolding in front of you as you dreamily transport yourself to another time and place. Now, open your eyes as we begin to read, Treasure Island by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson,” said the teacher in a sixth grade literature class.

Based upon that opening, which sets the tone for the book that will be introduced in class, the teacher is calling upon the students to stretch their imaginations and use their senses as she gives them a peek into the setting of the book. Teachers often use books outside of the required curriculum to teach a lesson, to reinforce a concept or to make a connection between a student’s prior knowledge and the new material that is going to be taught.

Teaching through a book broadens the scope of the lesson by incorporating many disciplines of study into each lesson, demonstrating the connection between reading and learning. Teaching a science lesson doesn’t just come from the science book each student receives at the beginning of the school year. The science material can also come from a book such as Treasure Island, as an example. The lesson could focus on the geographical terrain, the plant and animal life evidenced during the book’s passages, the environment and temperature patterns. In addition, a lesson on geography could be built from the book as you discuss life on an island, looking at other islands and discussing when some of them were discovered and by whom, and looking at the various cultures involved. Students would be introduced to a new set of vocabulary words that come from the story. Perhaps the students could be challenged to write their own ending for the book or to change one climactic point of drama in the middle of the story. Regardless of the focus of the creative writing exercise, a lesson is being taught on reading and writing.

For younger children, picture book and early readers often teach skills such as counting, alphabet recognition and phonics, shapes and colors. Just as with the example of Treasure Island, teachers can use young literature to teach lessons that correspond with their topics of study.

But, using literature to teach is not restricted to only teachers. Parents and caregivers can also use a book to teach a lesson, regardless of the child’s age. Remember the soft, puffy books babies often spend time drooling on? Taking a few minutes to talk about the pictures in the book and relating them back to the baby’s world is teaching a lesson. Point to the picture of a ball and then show the baby a real ball. They will love this activity and will want it to be repeated, like a favorite game. This is how they are learning about their environment, connecting what was shown in a book and then shown in real-life.

Literature is a powerful tool for teaching! It can be used in an obvious manner such as “read this book and write a paper about it” or through a more subtle approach where you use a book to reinforce the main concept of a lesson.

About the author: Maryann B. Sawka is an educator and parent, who has always embraced the notion that good manners are stylish and timely in every situation. She founded Charming Manners, a training company that educates all ages in the quest for civility and self-confidence. Sawka introduces good manners with a fun, engaging approach that makes the pursuit for knowledge an enjoyable experience.

Halo Publishing, Int. and the World of Ink Network will be touring author Maryann B. Sawka’s book Good Table Manners Made Easy, which released in January 2012.

Good Table Manners Made Easy is a quick, easy-to-read resource that teaches basic table manners in a delightful fun way. It also serves as a quick refresher for the table manners that we may have forgotten.

Get a sneak peek of the book at

You can find out more about Maryann B. Sawka’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Sawka and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.

In addition, come listen on January 16, 2012 to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth will be chatting with Maryann B. Sawka about her book, writing, the publishing industry and experiences. Sawka will also be sharing writing tips and trials, and the tribulations of the writer’s life.

To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit:

1 comment:

Julie Daines said...

This is good advice. I have some great memories of my grade school and junior high teachers using literature to awaken our senses and learn about the world.