Start with a Story: Literature and Learning in Your Classroom


158 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-921217-62-5
DDC 372.64'044




Reviewed by Jean Free

Jean Free, a library consultant, is a retired public-school teacher and
librarian in Whitby, Ontario.


Start with a Story is a practical book that will give educators a
multitude of ideas for specific activities to support whole-language
programs. Sections in the book highlight sharing and responding to
stories, shared reading, dramatizations, a variety of writing
activities, and across-the-curriculum ideas for art, music, and
storytelling. Start with a Story would be an excellent choice for both
beginning and experienced teacher-librarians and classroom teachers,
since it gives creative suggestions to get students involved in reading,
writing, and interpreting quality literature. The detailed bibliography
in the book’s final section gives sources for ideas from each chapter.
A high percentage of Canadian books are used as examples, along with
classics from Western cultures. Creative activities using wordless and
patterning books, nonfiction, choral reading, and poetry would enrich
any elementary language program. Creating a word collector’s chair of
catchy phrases and vivid language, making semantic webs, learning logs,
lift-the-flap books, foldouts, dioramas, and storytelling balls are
suggested as creative exercises for teachers to try with students.

This is an important book for teachers who are looking for ideas to
excite their students about reading and writing. Its variety and
enrichment suggestions, and its author’s extensive knowledge of
literature, will make it a creative source to return to again and again.
Wason-Ellam is an associate professor at the University of Saskatchewan,
where she specializes in children’s literature. Her comprehensive
guide will provide useful strategies to teachers to help their students
discover fine literature.


Wason-Ellam, Linda., “Start with a Story: Literature and Learning in Your Classroom,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 18, 2024,