One of the biggest frustrations I have as a parent is that my oldest son is a reluctant reader. He reads fine and does well in school but he has zero interest in reading for pleasure outside of an assignment. When he has read books for assignments he just gets through them and rarely enjoys the process.
When he was assigned to read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, that attitude changed. He came home from school and started talking about Hatchet. It was sparking an interest in my son! He told me it was a fantastic book and he hated to have to wait until the next day to continue reading. He wanted to sit down and read it as fast as he could! He’d never felt that way about a book before!
Each day my son would come home from school and voluntarily, which you know isn’t common with a middle schooler, tell me all about the chapter he had read that day! Seeing this book spark so much excitement in him made me realize this was a novel study that I needed to create!
Summary of Hatchet (from the book jacket):
Brian is on his way to Canada to visit his estranged father when the pilot of his small prop plane suffers a heart attack. Brian is forced to crash-land the plane in a lake and finds himself stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness with only his clothing and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present before his departure. Brian had been distraught over his parents’ impending divorce and the secret he carries about his mother, but now he is truly desolate and alone.
Exhausted, terrified, and hungry, Brian struggles to find food and make a shelter for himself. He has no special knowledge of the woods, and he must find a new kind of awareness and patience as he meets each day’s challenges. Is the water safe to drink? Are the berries he finds poisonous? Slowly, Brian learns to turn adversity to his advantage; an invading porcupine unexpectedly shows him how to make fire, a devastating tornado shows him how to retrieve supplies from the submerged airplane. Most of all, Brian leaves behind the self-pity he has felt about his predicament as he summons the courage to stay alive.
A story of survival and of transformation, this riveting book has sparked many a reader’s interest in venturing into the wild.
Hatchet is a great novel to accompany a study of:
- Research the Canadian oil fields.
- Investigate the purpose of flight numbers and flight plans.
- Research how airplanes work.
- Study search and rescue practices.
- Learn about heart attacks and CPR procedures.
- Research dehydration effects.
- Learn about survival skills, such as making a fire.
Using Hatchet in the classroom is a great way to hook those reluctant readers and turn them on to reading!
Hatchet is a riveting book that will grab the attention of even the most reluctant readers.
Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!
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