Print

A Story Like the Wind / After Reading / /

The Dark Lord’s Story

Exploring the concept of the unreliable narrator

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from A Story Like the Wind series

Text potential

  • Narrative features: Narration: first person
  • Narrative features: Narration: third person
  • Writing opportunities: Unreliable narrator

Strategies used

  • Thinking Maps

Purpose

This lesson provides an opportunity for the children to consider the different effects created by writing in the third or the first person and in particular, to consider whether all narrators can be trusted.

Preparation

  • A copy of The Story of the Three Little Pigs by Joseph Jacobs.
  • A copy of The True Story of The 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka.
  • Copies of A Story Like the Wind, at least one between two..

Process

Ask the children to recall the story of The Three Little Pigs, or read Joseph Jacobs version from Collected English Fairy Tales (1890). Then read Jon Scieszka’s The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs.

Use a Double Bubble Map (David Hyerle, 2011) to make a comparison between the two versions.

Ask:

  • Can you suggest reasons there are discrepancies in the two versions?

Clarify the differences between first and third-person narration, if needed. Make the point that writers make choices about whether to write in the third or first person.

  • What are the benefits and limitations of writing in the first person?

Introduce the term ‘unreliable narrator’ – a first-person narrator who distorts the truth. This can be deliberate or unconscious

  • Is B B Wolf an unreliable narrator?
  • Why would he want to distort the truth?

Ask the children to imagine that the  Dark Lord has written his version of the stallion race. How might his story be different from the third-person narration if he was writing to justify his behaviour?

Challenge the children to rewrite an eyewitness account of the race as if the Dark Lord is justifying his actions to his people.

Final reflection

  • How can we detect if the narrator is unreliable?

Key vocabulary

unreliable narrator

Resources

Double Bubble Map

_Double Bubble Map

Contributors

Nikki Gamble

Nikki Gamble
Director, Just Imagine
Nikki has worked extensively in schools across the UK and internationally. She is the author of Exploring Children’s Literature (4th edit) (2019) and co-author of Guiding Readers (2016) which was awarded the UKLA Academic Book of the Year Award 2017. Nikki is KS2 reading advisor and series consultant for Oxford University Press and content creator for the Oxford School Improvement and Oxford Owl websites. Nikki is Associate Consultant at the University of London, Institute of Education and Honorary Fellow at the University of Winchester

Read more