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Who didn't love Dr. Seuss?
What a great introduction to an accessible learning experience of "reading between the lines." It's a classic frustration point that all too frequently leads to annoyance and reliance upon a "I'll never get it, but I can learn to fake it Thanks to Spark Notes Plan B" attitude for many students.
Having probably liked Dr. Seuss in childhood and gained a bit more understanding of the world by the time students reach high school, it might be quite a bit easier to only have to stretch one's Vygotsky borders by exploring the real-world references made in these retitled Dr. Seuss books. A bit of understanding of what the titles reference added to an existing recollection of fondness for these classic stories, might provide a pre-engaged interest in rereading the stories with more "grown-up" eyes.
A follow up exercise might be to employ the opposite strategy. Have students start with a different personal favorite childhood story and have them create retitled versions of the covers for those stories.
Or have them choose a book they more recently enjoyed and have them create a retitled book cover. I would probably ask them to choose a book that they had chosen themselves rather than one that had been required reading.
I think the key is that they start with a book that they read and enjoyed rather than one they did not choose, may have had to struggle through because of a lack of pre-existing interest, challenging vocabulary, or plotline of no particularly attractive nature.
For example, a student may be a skateboarder who happened to read a book about Tony Hawk simply because the student thinks Hawk is pretty cool. That student might in retrospect see that the book might easily be retitled "Perseverance Pays Off" or "Fun Ain't Always Easy And Easy Ain't Always Fun."
It wouldn't need to be a time consuming experience, but maybe a single period early in the semester might be an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.
An alternative followup might be for students to be invited and then scheduled to bring in one or two or more of their favorite childhood books on the same day. And, then students are given a chance to blind draw one of the books brought in that day. I'd probably have a list of the titles they brought in so that those titles would be unacceptable for this single experience. So if they did happen to blind draw a title that matches one of the books they brought in they would get to draw again until they had drawn a book other than the one they'd brought in. They might then read the book cold and then try to draw a retitled cover.
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