“Another teacher, Jackie Griffin, and I were assigned to the lunch and story-time block,’' explains Worden, who teaches at Gloria B. Samms Elementary School in the Aldine Independent School District, a multicultural melting pot in the Houston suburbs. “While one teacher monitors the kids during lunch, the other teacher goes off to eat. Then, when the kids’ lunch is over, the teacher who was monitoring goes to get something to eat, and the other teacher reads them a story.
“The problem was, we had two different classes; I was teaching pre1st grade last year, and Jackie had 3rd grade. Many of those pre-1st graders were immature, many hadn’t even mastered kindergarten skills. And some of the 3rd graders had the ability of 4th graders. How do you come up with stories that wouldn’t be too high for the pre-1st graders and too low for the 3rd graders?
“One Friday, as a reward for good behavior, we were showing the kids Disney’s Incredible Journey, and I happened to mention that it was also a book that you could get at the library. When some of the kids heard that, they wanted to check the book out. It made the children realize that many movies were based on books, and we began to compare the book to the video.’'
From that point on, Worden and her colleague tried to show movies or television films that had some connection to a book: The Wizard of Oz, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Meryl Streep’s reading of the classic Velveteen Rabbit. For the younger children, seeing the movie often made it easier to understand the book. And many of the older children, inspired by the movie, would then go on to read the story in its original form, comparing the author’s words to the dramatic rendering.
“It increased their comprehension; they’d look and listen for details,’' says Worden. “The movie helped increase awareness of the book, but kids didn’t realize that they were having a comprehension lesson. All they thought was that they were having a ‘free’ day. They didn’t realize they were comparing and contrasting.’'
A version of this article appeared in the January 01, 1991 edition of Teacher as You’ve Seen The Movie, Now Read The Book