Saturday, November 15, 2014

Add Mystery and Fun to Your Teaching

I just read a delightful book,  a mystery story for children, but it is so much more than that. It's The Mystery of the Missing Lion by Alexander McCall Smith. You might know him from his series, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, featuring Precious Ramotswe. I loved the stories of Mma Ramotswe and the cast of colorful characters who fill the life of this clever sleuth.

In The Mystery of the Missing Lion we meet Precious Ramotswe as a nine-year-old child. On a trip to the Okavango Delta to visit her aunt, Precious becomes involved in the filming of a movie. When the actor-lion disappears, Precious uses her skills of observation and clear thinking to help find him.

This is one of three books in McCall Smith's Precious Ramotswe Mystery for Young Readers series. Iain McIntosh's illustration bring the story to life. In this book children receive some good sense lessons -- reminders about manners and examples of paying attention to details -- as well as learn about life in Botswana and the geography and animals of the delta, all while following Precious on her adventure. It would make a wonderful addition to the curriculum of any teacher in grades 3-5, whether in a classroom or a homeschool setting.

An illustration by Iain McIntosh from The Mystery of the Missing Lion

Indeed, the book has a Reader's Guide after the story, offering a pre-reading activity, discussion questions, and other curriculum connections for your students.  (Here's an example. Language Arts: Write a description of your favorite character in the book. What questions would you like to ask this character about his or her life in Botswana?)

The author spent most of his childhood and youth in what is now called Zimbabwe. He returned to Scotland for university, earning a PhD in law and going on to teach law in Great Britain as well as Botswana. He began writing in the 1980s and has authored over 50 books. Many are set in Botswana, others in Scotland, some in Portugal, and possibly even some in other parts of the world. (I can't be sure, since I've focused on the books about Precious Ramotswe.)

If you're looking for a something to spice up your teaching, you can't go wrong with the Precious Ramotswe Mystery for Young Readers books. Check out Alexander McCall Smith's website here.

Author Alexander McCall Smith with one of his young friends

No comments: