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Love Ladder

Page history last edited by Teri Lesesne 14 years, 2 months ago


There are so many different ladders that can be created with such a broad topic.  We could design a ladder about first loves, a ladder about familial love, or a ladder aboutlove of country.   The more broad the topic, the greater number of ladders that can be created.  Let me start with a simple ladders and then we can move on and collaborate on some more complex designs.

Unconditional Love 



                             Hope Was Here

                    Al Capone Does my Shirts

              My 100 Adventures 

          The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane     

     Mama, Do You Love Me?

Where the Wild Things Are


The bottom two rungs of this ladder are picture books.  I find that picture books are often an excellent choice when beginning a new unit or topic.  That is because picture books make it easier for most students to identify theme and other elements of story.  However, do not  think picture books cannot be challenging as well.  WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE has a complex sentence structure.  Additionally, the illustrations are a veritable treasure trove.  How do we know this book is about unconditional love?  At the end of Max's advenure, his dinner is waiting for him in his room despite his wild behavior and mischief.


MAMA, DO YOU LOVE ME is structurally interesting as it uses a call and reponse pattern between the mother and child.  Using a book with Native American characters also pulls in a multicultural element to this ladder.  The nother continues to assure her child that, no matter what, she will always be there to love her child.


From the two picture books  we now proceed to three books that are appropriate for tweens and young teens.  Two are Newbery Honor winners.  THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE is the story of a ceramic rabbit, a toy, that learns all about the true nature of love.  MY 100 ADVENTURES features a family whose bonds of love are often challenged but remain intact.  AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS is historical fiction set on Alcatraz Island in the 1950s and centers on a tightly knit family with a special needs daughter.  And in HOPE WAS HERE, unconditional love is the tie that binds Hope to her aunt, the only family she knows.


This ladder has fantasy, history, and realism.  Of course it is possible to construct a variant of this ladder that remains within one genre.  Or we could create a ladder composed solely of picture books or novels or short stories.  The ladder could continue to grow and move toward books geared more to older teens as well.  That is what I love about using ladders: they are limitless in their possibilities.

Love of Country



               A FAREWELL TO ARMS 

          PURPLE HEART



This is an example of a small ladder, what I refer to as a step stool.  The idea here is not really to take great steps up, but rather to move from one format to another.  We begin with a short story, one frequently anthologized in literature books, THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY.  Starting with a shorter work of fiction when introducing a new topic can be one way to ensure more students can access the concepts and themes you will cover.  From the short story, we move to a work of contemporary YA literature, PURPLE HEART.  This is the story of a young soldier who awakens in an Army hospital.  He is praised for his heroism in the face of war (this one set in Iraq).  However, he has niggling doubts: is he truly a hero?  Does he deserve the medal for valor?  Finally, we come to Ernest Hemingway's class A FAREWELL TO ARMS. Set during another time and another war, it does cover some of the same territory as the short story and the YA novel.  This step stool could become a stepping stone to another ladder (War and Peace).  Students could also be asked to search for poems and other genres and forms to add.  "Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind" comes to mind immediately. 



Copyright 2010 Teri S. Lesesne


First Loves (and lessons learned)

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