This past week, we started reading the novel A Day No Pigs Would Die as part of our Family Dynamics unit. I had found this novel in our school's Language Arts book room in August and was very glad that I picked it up to read. After reading it, I discovered that both my now college-age sons (Peter and Andrew) had read the novel when they were in middle school. When I asked them about it, they both remembered it, and both of them said they were glad they read the novel. With their endorsement, I added it to our first unit readings for family dynamics!
The novel is a classic "coming of age" story, so it definitely works for the theme of Family Dynamics. And, the book is rich is vivid descriptions, great dialogue and characterization, figurative language including the use of idioms, and other fun things that Language Arts teachers love to teach and talk about. I'm experimenting with students developing their own vocabulary lists for our "chapter chunks" and working on developing meaning through the primary use of context clues. Students will also be completing reading comprehension questions and quizzes as well as learning about various literary and plot elements while reading it.
As background before starting the novel, we read several articles about the Shakers. Even though the family in the novel is described as being Shaker, they aren't Shakers in the most true sense. However, their strong religious beliefs are an important part of the story. In addition, the novel spotlights the farming life of the early 20th century and the tough lessons that farmers, and farmers' children, learn and live with as part of their everyday lives.
I invite parents, students, and others who've read or who are reading this novel to post their thoughts about it here. It would be great to have specific posts about the novel's language in addition to having posts about the storyline and plot! What do you guys think about it?