The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
April 29, 2009 in Books With Social Studies Content, Twain, Mark, Young Adult Novels Tags: historical fiction, journal writing, Mark Twain, slavery issues, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Underground Railroad
Reviewed by Margo Dill, www.margodill.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
*Young adult novel, historical fiction
*Young Huck as main character, of course!
*Rating: This is a classic you won’t want to miss!
Short, short summary: You meet Huckleberry Finn for the first time in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and now he gets to star in his own book. You’ll love his storytelling voice, as there’s no better master storyteller than Mark Twain. When Huckleberry Finn escapes from his drunk father, he befriends, Jim, a runaway slave. (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the perfect book to read when you are doing a social studies unit on the Underground Railroad or slavery issues (see below).) Together, Jim and Huck float down the Mississippi River on a raft, and they run into all kinds of troubles and adventures. If you haven’t shared The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with your children or your students yet, now is the time.
So, what do I do with this book?
1. As mentioned above, this is a great classic to go along with a social studies unit on the Underground Railroad or slavery issues. What can your students learn about a slave’s life and/or freedom from Jim? What do your students think Huckleberry Finn learns from Jim? Your students should make a list of facts that they can learn from this historical fiction book, and then write an essay, using examples from the book, on how historical fiction can actually help teach history while entertaining a reader at the same time.
2. Use a Venn Diagram to do a character study between Tom Sawyer and Huck. Students often think they are very similar and can get their characteristics confused. But Mark Twain is a master writer, and these are two different boys. Once students have the Venn Diagram filled out, ask them to make up questions for each other about the two characters such as, “Which boy would never go to a tea party just because he liked a girl?” “Which character would be scared of a town drunk?” and so on. The answers to the questions could be Huck, Tom, or both. All the answers should be inferred from facts about the characters. The answers to the questions should not be able to be found in the text.
3. Work on reading skills such as making predictions and summarizing while reading this book. How do students feel things will end up for Huck and Jim? Ask them to write their predictions in their journals and support their answers with examples from the text. After students finish reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, they should evaluate how accurate they were with their predictions. To practice the skill of summarizing, you can ask students to summarize chapters or sections of Mark Twain’s book.
If you have used this book with your students or your children, please let us know what you did!