Monday, May 19, 2014

BLACKOUT: Personal Narratives in the Dark

With thunderstorm season approaching and subsequent power failures, your students should enjoy an award-winning picture book by John Rocco called Blackout. In this brief story, a city family is too busy for a board game until the lights suddenly go out. Mom’s computer and sister’s telephone don’t work anymore. Dad can’t finish cooking dinner. The family huddles around a candle, making shadow puppets. They go onto the roof of their apartment building to watch the stars.

Blackout delightfully captures how a normal evening can be pleasantly interrupted by a power failure. And it could be a great writing prompt in your classroom. Read this story and have a class discussion about a time when the lights went out. Was it hot or cold? Did your family do something special together like play a board game or go outside for an evening walk? Students might remember eating melting ice cream from the freezer or going to the pool to cool off. Others might complain about having to use a flashlight to go to the bathroom or flipping on the light switch without results.

Ask students to describe the many things in their homes that no longer worked without electricity. Were they frustrated? Or did it become a time for storytelling and pretend games? If the power failure occurred at night, ask your students to describe the glow of the flashlight, the flicker of candles. Did they use their five senses more in the dark?

Since almost all children have experienced it at least once, the story of a power failure can inspire a fun personal narrative with lots of descriptive details. John Rocco’s Blackout is just short enough for a mini-lesson to leave plenty of time for student writing. I hope your classes enjoy this activity as much as mine did.

1 comment:

  1. This looks like a great book, Jacqueline. Your review reminded me of the derecho a few summers ago. Board games, melting ice cream, no AC in the summer heat. What a great topic for a picture book!