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English Language Arts Blog

The home of Vocab Gal and other educational experts K–12 resources

February 2, 2016 CL Lesson Plans, CL Teaching Strategies Notice & Note, ELA K-5, ELA Focus - Reading, ELA 6-8, ELA Resources - Activities, Core Literacy

The Year of the Dog; A Coming of Age Novel, Grades 4–6

The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin is a great book to use with upper elementary grade-level students. The main character, Pacy, is trying to "find herself." She wants to figure out what interests her and where her talents lie. With the support of her family, Pacy tries a variety of different activities before she finds her talent, and makes a best friend along the way. This book will appeal especially to 4th and 5th graders trying to "find themselves," and figure out their likes and dislikes, talents and interests, and place within their family and friends.

the-year-of-the-dog-coming-of-age-novelI use this book during a “Coming of Age Unit” with my 5th grade students. In the unit, we analyze a variety of unique characters from several different novels. The Year of the Dog is always a popular book among my students. Before reading The Year of the Dog, have students answer the following questions:

  • What interests you?

  • What are your talents?

  • Do you have any hobbies?

  • What do you want to be when you grow up?

After the students respond to the warm-up questions above, explain that the novel, The Year of the Dog, is a “coming of age” novel and briefly review coming of age themes. Some coming of age themes to go over include:

  • The protagonist’s journey is from being a child to being an adult.

  • The journey is usually sparked by something that has happened in a character’s past.

  • The journey usually involves pain and suffering — growing up isn’t easy.

  • The main characters are usually faced with an important choice or come to a crossroad.

  • The protagonist grows from his/her experiences.

Tell students that in the novel The Year of the Dog, the main character, Pacy, spends the year trying to "find herself." In this coming of age novel, Pacy grows up and matures (rather than entering adulthood) as she finds her talent. Tell the students that with every chapter they will have a different reading strategy to focus on that pertains to that chapter, as well as a guiding question to help support their comprehension of the chapter. The chapter strategies and guiding questions are available for you to download.

coming-of-age-themes-activities-using-the-year-of-the-dogs-750px

persuasive-writing-lesson-Download-Now

I use The Year of the Dog as one of the students’ choices for independent texts during this “coming of age” unit. The mentor text I use is a read aloud, Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan, a novel I have written about in other posts. Stay tuned for more “coming of age' novels that I will share in upcoming posts. If your students enjoy The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin, there is a sequel called The Year of the Rat.

Download The Year of the Dog Chapter Strategies Worksheets now!

 

 

 

MORE READING ACTIVITIES INSPIRED BY NOVELS: