Fantasy Books: There's a Whole Other World Out There

byKarlene McGowen

This unit will focus on reading and analyzing the genre of fantasy. There are some specific aspects of fantasy that make it a genre of its own. We will study these aspects and learn what makes this genre so engrossing. In addition to reading, we will do some writing. It is amazing how easy it is for kids to create the supernatural. This unit includes a lesson to have pairs or small groups of students write an original piece of fantasy with illustrations — basically, to create a fantasy picture story book.

This unit specifically focuses on the use of fantasy books. Novels and picture books are used to teach the seven motifs of fantasy, which are: magic, otherworlds, universal themes, heroism, special character types, talking animals, and fantastic objects. The unit uses books that are for use in a sixth grade classroom. However, the stories can be used in any classroom, especially the picture books.

This unit also teaches seven literary elements, which are: plot, characterization, point of view, conflict, foreshadowing/flashback, tone/mood, and setting. These literary elements are looked at in fantasy picture story books as well as fantasy novels.

This is a great unit because it teaches the skills every English or Reading teacher needs to incorporate in their class, but uses stories that are popular with students today. We all know students these days devour any fantasy novel they can get a hold of. This unit takes that passion for reading and utilizes it for teaching basic concepts.

(Recommended for Reading and English, grades 5-8.)


Comments (6)

    Esmeralda Molina (ByCENED, Durango, Du)
    Subject taught: English, Grade: 7
    Good Information
    the information its really valuable for me, helps me to know what to do in some topics.thanks
    Cynthia A. Watson (Amy Beverland Elementary School of Communications and Techno, Indianapolis, IN)
    Subject taught: All, Grade: 5
    Fantasy Unit
    This was amazing! I am VERY thankful for this information! You have no idea how much this has helped me and therefore, immeasurably beneficial to my children!!!
    THANK YOU FOR THIS PUBLICATION!!!!!
    Juliette Bentley (Mt St Michael\'s Catholic College, Brisbane, QL)
    Subject taught: English/Religion
    Incredibly well conceived
    I just wanted to thank you for providing such a wonderful unit plan and for your generosity in sharing it. I plan to use it as a guide to the development of a website I am creating for my Grade 7 students next year. Naturally I will put credits in acknowledging you as a source. You have captured the rigour but also the fun. I will be making it a little more inquiry based but cannot thank you enough for sparking my imagination. Thank you again
    pascaline germain (Lycée St Hilaire Paris + Lycée Orsay , Paris France, Fr)
    Subject taught: English and English literature, Grade: 5
    Thank you
    Thank you for this impressive work.
    We, English Teachers in France, must now prepare out students to discover all kinds of literature and among the genres we must deal with is the imaginary worlds. I don\'t know about my colleagues but personnally I love Alice which I found immensely talented and mad. But I am not very fond of Narnia which I find unimaginative in Spike if The collection of weird things gathered in the cauldron and though the Hobbit and Potter are acceptable, I am surprised you didn\'t mention the Baudelaire children
    Matthew Clara (Central MI University, Lansing, MI)
    Subject taught: English Composition, Grade: 13
    List of fantasy literature deliberately didactic in nature
    When I say deliberately didactic, I\'m thinking of Le Guin\'s Earthsea Cycle. I know, no one does it like Le Guin. Still, I read a lot of fantasy and while I find many good stories (and some not so good), I\'m almost always left feeling that the books lack real depth, and they are unsatisfying as such. There are exceptions, of course, like Jo Walton\'s Among Others, and Neil Gaiman\'s The Ocean at the End of the Lane. Several times now I\'ve looked online for recommendations to fantasy with deeper meaning, and at least two of those led me here to your page. So I thought I\'d write. It would be a great service if you and your students could put together such a list. Hopefully you find such an endeavor worthwhile. Consider, if you will that there\'s a lot of dross to wade through when looking for a good fantasy novel, and that stories that are just stories don\'t maximize the tool that is the fantasy genre, which, like fairy tales, is didactic in nature. It\'s as though most fantasy authors just really think elves and swords are cool!

    Thanks!

    Ps. in your bibliography you cite Pamela Gates and Susan Steffel. Both of them served on my M.A.\'s thesis committee. Pam was a professor of mine. I was lucky to work with them.
    Tricia Hunt (Hampden Meadows, Barrington, Rh)
    Subject taught: General Elementary Classroom, Grade: 5
    Excellent Resource
    Based on the interest of my students I decided that I would like to kick off a Fantasy Guided Reading Unit. This resource has been incredible in helping me both understand the elements of Fantasy and in giving me a wealth of text options to use.

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