Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eight Reasons to Teach Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

ShilohLooking for one more novel to read out loud or have your students read this year? Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor may be just what you are looking for. Here is why:

Point of View/Writing Style
Shiloh is written in first person in the voice of eleven-year old Marty Preston. Marty lives in rural West Virginia and his speech patterns make that very evident. This is a great opportunity to analyze how an author can use a local dialect to shape a character.

Ethical Issues
In the story, Marty rescues a dog that is being brutally mistreated by his owner. Since his parents won't let him have a dog (because they are too poor to afford one), Marty finds himself lying on several occasions. Because Marty is a good person, this does not sit well with him at all. There are so many great discussions here as students weigh Marty's good intentions with what he does to carry them out.

A Villain with Depth
The villain in this story is Shiloh's owner, Judd Travers. Judd is a really dreadful person, but Naylor helps both Marty and the reader find compassion for him by giving us a glimpse into his past and by giving him a small amount of humanity near the end of the story.

A Protagonist to Admire
At first, there doesn't seem to be all that much to Marty, but as he wrestles with himself over his own bad behavior and his love for Shiloh, he grows into a more complicated character. He struggles to understand Judd Travers and at the end of the story when he chooses the high road, at much personal expense, he defines himself even more. 

Newbery Award
It won the coveted medal in 1992. 

There's a Movie
The movie adaptation of the book is quite good. While it does follow the story line fairly closely, there are some changes and students will enjoy discussing how these changes affect the story and why they were made.

There are Sequels
Two of them in fact, Shiloh Season and Saving Shiloh (there are movies for both of these books as well). Reading a book with sequels is always a plus for those kids who want to keep reading.

Resources Galore
There are lots of literatures guides and other resources for teaching this book including this terrific set of comprehension questions.

So, consider Shiloh for your next reading assignment - after all you can't go wrong with a boy and his dog, and unlike so many other ones in this story the dog doesn't even die in the end.

And if you are looking for more great ideas for teaching reading, be sure to head over to the
Reading Workshop Linky Party at Effective Teaching Solutions!

1 comment:

Laura Candler said...

Thanks for reminding me about this book! Shiloh is one of my favorites, and it's definitely a great read aloud. It was always a favorite for Classroom Book Clubs. Lots to discuss!

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