Sunday, January 22, 2012

Twenty Thousand . . . What??

On Friday, during a speech session with a group of seven-year-olds, we had an interesting discussion about books. Our discussion of one book in particular I found VERY interesting (if somewhat hard to decipher). But let me back-track a moment.

Just so you don’t think we waste time in speech, I’d like to explain that, to begin with, when a child is learning how to pronounce a certain sound, I teach them how that sound is made. Here is a child demonstrating how to make the “ l” sound – at least she is heading there.

(Photos of children on this blog are used with parent permission.)

Once they can produce the sound with their own mouth, they practice it in words, phrases and then sentences. Finally, they need to carry this new skill into conversations, and what better conversation to have than one of books? Book discussions are full of language-enriching possibilities. And they have an added benefit for me - I write stories for children so I love finding out what is currently popular with the younger crowd.

And that brings me back to the group of seven-year-olds in my speech room on Friday. They were at the conversation level in working on their "L" sound so I asked them to tell me about their favorite books. One child told me his was, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea”. (At least I thought that’s what he said.)

“Isn’t that kind of hard to read?” I asked.


Before he could say more, another seven-year-old interrupted. “I love that book!”

“You’re reading it too?” I know the educational standards are getting fairly rigorous but this seemed a bit excessive. I was amazed but doubtful, so I asked, “What is ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea’ about?”

One child told me it was about an octopus with LOTS and LOTS of legs but the first student looked a bit confused and asked, “What’s a League?”

“A measurement,” I told him, “a large one”.

“Not League, - legs! You know. Twenty Thousand LEGS Under the Sea.” Then he walked his fingers across the table to make sure I got the point. (This is a speech group after-all and we are used to using alternative forms of communication when necessary.)

I have since searched the Internet trying to locate this book and have found a children’s version of Jules Verne’s original but I have not located, “Twenty Thousand Legs Under the Sea”. Does anyone out there know if it exists? If not, I know a couple of young authors with great imaginations who would be willing to work on it.

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