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Teaching Literature

 

My Life Among The Aliens

Plot and Climax:

My Life Among The Aliens is a series of connected short stories, each one with a separate plot and climax so that you can discuss these ideas over and over again. There is also a climax for the book as a whole, which is another opportunity to discuss that concept.

Characters:

Each character in a piece of fiction should be unique. Aliens provides an opportunity to discuss how Will and Robby are different from one another, both physically (see "The Intergalactic Games") and as far as their personalities are concerned. What about the parents? Are they interchangeable or different? What about Tom O.? Does he seem different from Will and Rob?

Show Don't Tell:

This is a basic rule for writers. You might like to point out that the author shows the brothers' physical appearance through dialogue ("The Intergalactic Games") instead of just telling the reader what they look like in a descriptive paragraph.

Setting:

See if the readers are able to locate a setting for these stories (the family's home and yard) on their own. You might like to discuss 'sense of place' (the strong feeling of knowing the setting of a story) and whether or not your students felt such a sense while reading the book.

Comparing and Contrasting Different Works:

My Life Among The Aliens was influenced by the Soup books by Robert Newton Peck. Aliens is a series of short stories about two boys' adventures, just as the Soup books are. You might like to read one of Peck's books to the class and then discuss how Aliens is similar to it and how it is different.

Genre:

You can use Aliens to introduce the idea that there are different categories of books. Just what is My Life Among The Aliens? Is it science fiction because it's about aliens? Is it mainstream fiction because it's about a contemporary family? Is it a book of short stories? Do your students enjoy the book more if they think of it as science fiction or would they rather think of it as something else?

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February 7, 2015