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Using Children’s Literature to Teach Symbolism and Allegory

Author: Jessica L. Coldren


William L. Sayre High School

Year: 2011

Seminar: Children's Literature

Grade Level: 9

Keywords: Aesop's Fables, allegory, symbolism, The Giver

School Subject(s): English

Teaching symbolism is a challenge. Teaching allegory using the stories provided in the literature textbook is nearly impossible. Teenagers today are not likely to identify with stories about two small towns in China with allegorical references to the Cold War. This would not be much of an issue if the planning and scheduling timeline for English I coincided with the planning and scheduling timeline for the world history class. However, by the time the English I curriculum reaches allegory, the world history curriculum has not even touched the Cold War. Before even teaching allegory and reading the story, students need a history lesson that the English curriculum does not provide time for.

Students are adept at recognizing visual symbols, but when it comes to interpreting textual symbols they struggle. The difficulties in teaching symbolism and allegory are compounded with the use of texts that students cannot relate with. This unit will look at symbolism and allegory using materials students are more familiar with. The lessons will address public symbols, the most well known of Aesop’s fables, and a novel (The Giver) to teach symbolism and allegory to 9th grade students.

Download Unit: 11.01.12.pdf

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