At my high school, we give the honors English students lists of books to choose from for summer reading requirements. One problem that we often discuss is whether some of the students actually read the more contemporary books, or if they just watch the movie (as with, for example, Life of Pi). To address this, I created a “Fiction and Film” category on my summer reading list. Students must read the book AND watch the film. When they return in September, I put them into small groups of 5-6 on Edmodo (the groups each revolve around the same book/movie), and they have a week to discuss the book and film online with their small group.
Below is my instruction sheet with a rubric. Students must have a minimum of four posts, and demonstrate knowledge of both the book and film versions. They must also make a comment on one of the director’s, screenwriter’s, or actors’ choices in adapting the book to film. Finally, they get a grade for actually interacting with their group on Edmodo–for having a discussion instead of just firing off posts that fulfill the rubric requirements.
When I tried this last year, I was floored by the discussions. Students were amazingly perceptive in their analyses of the film adaptations. It was also a good way for me to start the students on Edmodo, and for me to get to know the students a bit in the beginning of the year. In addition, comparing film and print versions of texts is a requirement for high school students on the Common Core.
My book choices in this category this year are: Life of Pi, The Good Earth, and Cry, the Beloved Country. Since the movie for The Good Earth was made in 1936, it makes for quite an interesting discussion! Another great choice would be Cyrano de Bergerac and its film counterpart Roxanne.
If you’re looking for a way to spice up your summer reading list, you might want to try a “Fiction and Film” category.