1. a reading sample – Island of the Blue Dolphins lends itself very well to being read aloud on stage. It’s prose – in fact the very tone of the book – is quite different from most children’s books. Read properly – and I recommend a stately, dead-pan, ‘let the prose do the work’ delivery – it should be quite arresting and intriguing to students. And probably not what they’re normally expecting.
4. a didactic intro – Assemblies that draw students into the unknown world of the book are usually the best. But sometimes learning more about the world of the book can enrich students appreciation of the book as they are reading it with their families. Occasionally having an expert come in to talk about some specific or factual or scientific aspect of the world of the book can be instructive. Some schools have brought in representatives from animal shelters for books about dogs. And a visit from a park ranger, talking about how to survive in the wild, has been effective for My Side of the Mountain. Something similar might be useful w/ Island of the Blue Dolphins. An expert – if you can find one – could talk about Indian culture in the Channel Islands in California – or just about Native American culture involving anything from fishing to ancestor worship. An expert (and it could be a parent expert…) could also talk about surviving in the wild – how to forage for and recognize roots and berries; how to fashion shelter; how to make implements to catch of hunt food. An expert might also talk about the wildlife of Karana’s island (e.g. sea elephants!). And, perhaps best of all, a local meteorologist might be able to explain about the relationship between earthquakes and tidal waves, the better to understand and explain the mysterious and threatening events in Chapter 27.