Humanities Washington has taken an already great idea, its Prime Time Family Reading program, and compiled it into a digital storybook and discussion guide for at-home reading.
The idea was to “get kids thinking more deeply about life’s big issues,” with children’s literature as a jumping-off point.
This library-based, in-person program was transformed into the online Cabin Fever Kids program for the pandemic, with participants receiving a link to a video reading plus questions for discussion among children, parents, and teachers.
The discussions are rooted in philosophy, critical thinking, sociology, psychology and other disciplines.
For example: “Who gets to decide what a person can and cannot do? Is that fair? Why or why not? How do you know?”
The idea is to use situations from the book and compare them to real-life, personal experiences in an exploration of their own lives, their families’ lives and society itself.
Now, a year in, with many schools and facilities still closed, the next step was to compile the Cabin Fever Kids project into a single digital book. Each story’s questions are printable and designed for use in remote learning, home learning or bedtime reading.
Here are a couple of examples for at-home reading and discussing:
Story: “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble,” by William Steig, in which a donkey collects rocks, one of which grants wishes. The questions include: “If you had been in the same situation, what would you have wished for? Why?” “What would be the best kind of wish? The worst? Why?”
Story: “Catching the Moon,” by Crystal Hubbard, the story of a young girl in the 1930s who dreamed of playing professional baseball. The aforementioned questions about fairness apply to this story, along with: “Has anyone ever helped you accomplish something?” “How would you help someone else achieve a dream?”
The Cabin Fever Kids digital book has links to readings of the stories, plus library checkout information. Happy reading — and happy discussing!