Emily's Runaway Imagination
- Grades: 3–5
About this book
Subject Area: Language Arts, Social Studies
Reading Level: 4.8
Irrepressible Emily lives with her mother and father in small-town Pitchfork, Oregon, in the 1920s. The world around her is changing — motorcars can be found on the roads alongside horse-drawn buggies and airplanes buzz overhead. But the real world is no match for Emily's imagination! Best-loved author Beverly Cleary spins a warm and compelling tale of one young girl and her funny misadventures.
Students will flex their reading comprehension skills with activities that provide opportunities to compare and contrast.
Standard: Makes connections between his or her own life and the characters, events, motives, and causes of conflict in texts.
Way Back When
The world Emily lives in is much different from our modern world!
- Provide a brief description of Emily's Runaway Imagination to your class. Emphasize the setting and historical period of the book. You may wish to read the front flap aloud.
- Talk about the ways in which Emily's world might differ from our own.
- Ask students for examples of items that we take for granted (microwave ovens, televisions, cell phones, for example) that Emily may only have dreamt about.
- Have students imagine ways in which Emily and her family may have compensated for the "lack." How might they have entertained themselves? What was cooking like?
- As you read through the book, have students note how closely (or not) their imaginings mirror Emily's real experience.
Compare and Contrast
Now that they've read the book, students are well versed in 1920s lifestyles!
- Ask each student to choose from the book one example of an instance in which Emily's life is different from his or her own. This could include: having to wring out just-washed clothes, having a five-party phone line, getting around in a horse and buggy, or simply not having a library nearby.
- Have students imagine that they are reporters with an assignment to write about the advent of modern replacement — clothes dryers, private phone lines, automobiles, libraries. They should pretend they are trend spotters.
- Students should present a clear picture of life before the replacement was invented and ways in which the invention will change people's lives.
- One at a time, have each student read his or her news article aloud to the class.
City Girl vs. Country Girl
Although Emily and her cousin Muriel are great friends, they lead very different lives.
- Talk about the ways in which Emily and Muriel experience life differently. For example, Emily dreams about being able to read Black Beauty , while Muriel fantasizes about riding a real horse. Automobiles are rare in Emily's rural world, but more common in the city.
- If your students are "city" kids, have them imagine what their lives might be like living in the country. If your school is in a rural area, ask your students to imagine that they live in a big city. (If your area is in-between, you may wish to divide the class in two; having half write about city life and half write about country life.)
- Have each student write out a schedule of what one day might be like in the other locale. Ask each to include at least three examples of ways in which his or her day might be different if he or she lived in the other setting.
- Share each student's daily schedule with the class. On your blackboard, keep a tally of the examples of differences your class is able to produce.
- Conclude the activity with a discussion of the similarities all students share, no matter where their school is located.
More Books About Other Times and Other Places
Sarah, Plain and Tall
by Patricia MacLachlan
When Anna and Caleb's father advertises for a mail-order bride, they have no idea what to expect. Motherless since Caleb's birth, the small family has survived, but not thrived, in a simple prairie lifestyle. When Sarah, plain, tall, and unlike Mother in every way, arrives, the children grow to love her and the family becomes whole once more.
Little House in the Big Woods
by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The first title in the best-loved series about Laura Ingalls and her family's adventures in the Wild West.
The Door in the Wall
By Marguerite de Angeli
Set in 14 th -century England, this is the classic story of one boy's bravery when he loses the use of his legs.
Number the Stars
by Lois Lowry
It's 1943 when 10-year-old Annemarie Johannesen and best friend Ellen Rosen's lives are turned upside-down by a Nazi decree directed at Denmark. All Danish Jews are to be rounded up and sent to death camps. Quick-thinking Danes unite to send their country's Jews to safety in Sweden.
Other Books by Beverly Cleary
Beezus and Ramona
Dear Mr. Henshaw
Henry and Ribsy
The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Ramona and Her Father
Teaching plan written by Rebecca Gómez