The Last Book in the Universe Lesson Plan
- Grades: 6–8, 9–12
About this book
Subject Area: Language Arts
Reading level: 5.3
Life is tough since the Big Shake. The world is a harsh place and the people are unforgiving. In the backtime, people used to escape the hardships of the real world through reading. But that time has passed and books have all but been forgotten. Now the only relaxation is a mindprobe needle that shoots any image you desire straight to your brain. Spaz, unlike everyone else, has never been able to use a mindprobe because he has epilepsy. Without the probe his mind remains sharp and his memory is far better than others. But it isn't until he meets Ryter, "a saggy old gummy," that Spaz realizes the importance of how the written word can preserve the past and change his future.
Objective: Students will write a chapter of the main character's book and investigate the importance of the written word.
Standard: Student reflects on what has been learned after reading and formulates ideas, opinions, and personal responses to text.
Standard: Student will make inferences and draw conclusions about story elements.
Ask students to think about the first book they can remember reading. Have them write about an early childhood experience that dealt with either reading or writing. Who were they with during this experience? What emotions did they feel? Can they remember their favorite books when they were little? Share these experiences.
A World Without Reading and Writing
- Ask students to identify places where they find writing (e.g., movies, menus, books, articles, speeches, ads).
- Tell them to imagine a world where writing and reading do not exist. How would life be different?
- Ask students: Why do we write things down?
- Split the class into groups of no more than three and give them chart paper. Give each group a question and ask them to web their answers. You may want to group students depending on their skill level since some questions are more difficult than others.
- Think of examples where words are powerful (e.g., speeches, stop signs, directions, etc.). Locate words or passages that you think are powerful in this story to read aloud.
- What events would you want to preserve through writing?
- How are mindprobes similar to books? How does reading or writing allow you to escape from the real world?
- Look at Ryter's definition of literary immortality (p.89). What books or characters do you think have or should achieve literary immortality?
5. Have students present their charts to the class.
Write Your Own Chapter
- Ryter never finishes writing his book. He tells Spaz, “You're the last book in the universe.” Tell students that they will be writing a chapter from Spaz's book. Brainstorm ideas for this original chapter with the class.
- Go back to the charted questions from the previous activity. How will Spaz use writing? Will Spaz write about his future? his past? his relationships? Will Spaz use writing as an escape? as a way to imagine himself back in Eden? Will he use it to gain power? What events would Spaz want to preserve?
- Have students read each other's stories. Students should look to see what purpose writing has for Spaz in their partner's story.
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