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A Story Like the Wind / After Reading / /

Thinking About the Title

Reflecting on a title choice as an indicator of a book’s themes

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from A Story Like the Wind series

Required reading: Whole book

Text potential

  • Literary features: Title

Strategies used

  • Discussion and Dialogue

Purpose

A great title is more than a description of a story; it will encapsulate the essence of the story. Returning to the title after finishing the story may reward with new insights. Indeed writing the title is often the last task a writer will do – not the first. 

This lesson invites children to think about the title and to consider how it relates to the story’s themes.

Writing a new title is a way of thinking through the process in a similar way that the writer might have done when crafting their title.

Preparation

  • Write the title on the IWB
  • Make some ballot slips for children to vote for their favourite alternative title.
  • A collection of books with interesting and catchy titles.

Process

Have an initial discussion about the title.

Now that you have finished the book

  • What do you think about the title?
  • What story is referred to in the title?
  • Why do you think the story is compared to the wind?
  • Is this a good comparison?
  • Is there anything else that you would compare this story to? Why?

Working in small groups, distribute a small selection of books to each group. Ask them to read the title and make a note of any that stand out. 

  • What qualities make a good title? Here are some qualities you might consider:
    • Short and succinct
    • Intriguing
    • Memorable
    • Alliterative qualities
    • Puns and language play
    • Sums up the ideas in the story

This can be summarised as a good title needs to appeal to readers and inform.

Make the point that different types of stories have different titles. A funny title is unlikely to work for a serious story unless the aim is irony.

Working in pairs or small groups, write three alternative titles for A Story Like the Wind. Your titles should reflect the themes of the story.

Now join with another group and share your titles. Explain how you arrived at your choice. Choose one of the titles as your favourite, making sure you can explain why it is the best title in your selection. Write your chosen title on a large strip of paper.

Gather the class. Collect the alternative titles from each group. Read each one and briefly discuss the merits of each.

Now distribute the ballot papers. Each child can vote for one title. Explain that it is essential that they vote for the title that has the most merit, whether it is their suggestion or not.

Count the votes and announce the winner of the alternative title ballot.

Final reflection

Ask the children to consider that they are pitching a suggested title change to the author Gill Lewis. They are keen to impress by giving a clear explanation of their choice.

  • What are the main points you should make about their chosen title?

Invite the children to write their pitches.

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

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