Chapter 1 Introduction This chapter presents poems, stories, brief discussions of grammar and writing, and explanations of common sayings and phrases. The best way to bring children into the spirit of poetry is to read it aloud to them and encourage them to speak it aloud so that they can experience the music in the words. Until children take pleasure in the sound of poetry, there is little reason to analyze it technically. Most of the stories in this book are either excerpts from longer works or abridged versions of those works. If a child enjoys a particular story, he or she should be encouraged to read a longer version. Several of the novels excerpted here are available in child-friendly versions as part of the Core Knowledge Foundation'sCore Classicsseries, available on the Foundation's Web site ( www.coreknowledge.org ). Parents and teachers can help draw children into stories by asking questions about them. For example, you might ask, "What do you think is going to happen next?" "Why did one of the characters act as he did?" "What might have happened if . . . ?" You might also ask the child to retell the story. Don't be bothered if children change events or characters: that is in the best tradition of storytelling and explains why there are so many versions of traditional stories. You can also encourage children to write and illustrate their own stories. Some children may be interested in beginning to keep a journal or writing letters to friends or relatives these are both fine ways for children to cultivate their writing skills. Another way to build vocabulary and foster language skills is by playing word games such as Scrabble, Boggle, or hangman, and doing crossword puzzles. Experts say that our children already know more about grammar than we can ever teach them. But standard written language does have special characteristics that children need to learn. The treatment of grammar and language conventions in this book is an overview. It needs to be supplemented and rounded out by giving the child opportunities to read and write and to discuss reading and writing in connection with grammar and spelling. In the classroom, grammar instruction is a part, but only a part, of an effective language arts program. In the fourth grade, children should be working on vocabulary and spelling. They should enjoy a rich diet of fiction, poetry, drama, biography, and nonfiction. They should be involved in the writing process, inventing topics, discovering ideas in early drafts, revising toward "publication" of polished final drafts all with encouragement and guidance along the way. They should practice writing in many modes, including stories, poetry, journal entries, formal reports, dialogues, and descriptions. For some children, the section on sayings and phrases may not be needed; they will have picked up these sayings by hearing them in everyday speech. But this section will be very useful for children from homes where American English is not spoken. For additional resources to use in conjunction with this section, visit the Foundation's online bookstore and database, Resources to Build On, at the Web address above. POETRY Monday's Child Is Fair of Face (author unknown) Monday's child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace, Wednesday's child is full of woe, Thursday's child has far to go, Friday's child is loving and giving, Saturday's child works hard for a living, But the child that is born on the Sabbath day Is fair and wise and good and gay. Humanity by Elma Stuckey If I am blind and need someone To keep me safe from harm, It matters not the race to mHirsch, E. D., Jr. is the author of 'What Your Fourth Grader Needs to Know Fundamentals of a Good Fourth-Grade Education', published 1994 under ISBN 9780385312608 and ISBN 0385312601.