I read The Little Prince aloud to my 3rd grade class. We stopped after a few chapters to do some drawing in response to their reading. The kids might not have the life experiences to really "get" a lot of the moralistic aspects of the book, but they have enjoyed listening to it and talking about it and definitely enjoyed this activity!
I'm kind of surprised I haven't read The Little Prince before now. It is one of the best-selling books ever, and is actually the most prolific French-language book ever. It was written in the 1940's by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
In the story, a pilot has crash-landed in the Sahara desert and soon meets a "most extraordinary small person". He engages in conversation with the "Little Prince" while trying to fix his airplane. We learn about the prince's life (he's the only person living on his planet) and his travels from tiny planet to tiny planet (asteroids, actually), the characters he meets and the lessons he learns.
The pilot acts as narrator and illustrator. he self-referentially refers to his own writing and drawing throughout the novella, which makes for a uniquely toned narrative. Interestingly enough, de Saint-Exupéry actually DID crash-land an airplane into the middle of the Sahara desert, and much of the book is allusion to and metaphor of his own life experiences and philosophy.
Before starting the chapters where the prince recounts his travels from planet to planet, I had my class do a little art project in response to our reading. I posed the question "If you had your own little planet like 'The Little Prince', what would it look like?" I gave some instruction on drawing on their "spheres" with the right perspective and discussed some ideas and set them on their way. I really liked their results!
|My 3rd Graders work on their "personal planets".|
|The final results. I thought they were really cool!|
As a mentor text, The Little Prince great for studying symbolism, metaphor, and allusion. Those aren't big focuses in 3rd grade, but I like to discuss those deep comprehension concepts with my students, especially during read-alouds. Some kids really are amazed when they start to see the "story behind the story" and understanding such concepts can really enrich their reading experiences. I generally try to use poetry to teach metaphor and symbolism to such young students, but the flower on the princes planet, the inhabitants of the other little planets he visits and their idiosyncrasies, and the characteristics of the planets are all ripe for symbolism and metaphor discussions.