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Reading to Write: preparing to write about fiction

Connecting elements of a short story to the themes of a course
by Jane Hammons on 9 March 2013

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Transcript of Reading to Write: preparing to write about fiction

using ideas from nonfiction as a lens
when reading fiction Making Connections:
from Reading to Writing How can Yi-Fu Tuan's ideas in Space and Place help us explore "Children of the Sky"
by Seno Gumira Ajidarma? Children of the Sky
by Seno Gumira Ajidarma
(fiction) Space and Place
by Yi-Fu Tuan
(nonfiction) "Turning points. The reader should look for turning points in the text. They are like marks blazed on a tree on a mountain trail, and more. They not only point the reader to where the reader should go, but they also quickly summarize where they think the reader has been. If you spot the turning points and understand what the writer believes has been said and intends to say next, you will begin to see how the piece is working." Use Donald Murray's tips for reading to help you analyze the story think about the questions below and then make some connections to the quotes in the next frame what other ideas about space and place can you connect to "Children of the Sky"? What are the adults like in this story? Who is the narrator? What is his relationship to the children in the story? "Place is security, space is freedom: we are attached to the one and long for the other" (3). Do the children in this story have a home, a "place," that offers security? What do you think the sky represents? "As soon as the child is able to speak with some fluency he wants to know the names of things. Things are not quite real until they acquire names and can be classified in some way. Curiosity about places is part of a general curiosity about things, part of the need to label experiences so they have a greater degree of permanence and fit into some conceptual scheme" (29). What are some of the significant objects in this story? Tuan writes about real, not fictional, children who live in ordinary or "normal" situations. How do the extraordinary conditions of the children in the story help us understand the conceptual frame or, in Tuan's words, "scheme" they might have for understanding the world they live in? Where do the children of the sky come from? What makes them different from those "of woman born" (Ajidarma 56)? "The young child, as soon as he learns to walk, will want to follow his mother and explore the environment within ambience. The more hostile the environment, the closer the attachment to the protective adult" (24). Where does the story begin? Where does it end? What is the key turning point?

How do passengers inside automobiles respond to the children?

How do the passengers inside the airplane respond?

Make a list of key scenes and images that helped you find meaning in the story. "Reading for experience is usually an emotional as well as an intellectual activity, and in many cases all our senses are involved. We see the world of the writer, smell it, taste it, touch it. In some cases it becomes more real to us than ordinary living, the way a dream has its own special intensity" (Murray).

"Experience thus implies the ability to learn from what one has undergone" (Tuan 9). Connecting Murray and Tuan What was your experience of the setting, the place, in Ajidarma's story?

Did the experience change once we are in the sky with the narrator and the children?

What emotions did the story elicit?

Were you consciously making connections to Tuan as you read? Ajidarma, Seno Gumira. "Children of the Sky." Words Without Borders. Eds. Samantha Schnee, Alane Salierno Mason and Dedi Felman. New York: Anchor Press, 2005. 56-63. Print. http://wordswithoutborders.org/

Murray, Donald M. "Reading as a Reader." Read to Write. New York: Harcourt, 1993. Print.

Tuan, Yi-Fu. Space and Place. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011. Print.
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