Thursday, December 01, 2005

Narrative Improvisation

The child gets new books every week. This week he received The Bear Under the Stairs.

I read the book to him several times. Then something very interesting happened. The child, who can't read, set out to read the book to me. He took it in his hands, parted the covers, and turned the pages. As he did, he narrated the book. Bits and pieces were words and phrases he remembered from my readings. Other bits and pieces he filled in from his own imagination.

When he reached the book's midpoint, he stopped. "It's too scary when I read it," he said. "You read it to me again."

It seemed his imagination turned the bear into a personal demon infinitely more fierce than the (imaginary) bear in the (actual) book.

I wonder. What if my Composition students wrote papers, illustrated them, arranged the illustrations in storyboards, then gave them to others to narrate? This might be a good way to encourage developmental editing that is, at the same time, imaginative and collaborative both.

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