Using “Control F” to add Sophie’s Voice to “A Summer’s Reading” by Malamud

Some might find this “creature” intimidating! Naomi’s Photos

There is something intimidating about looking at very long lists of vocabulary items, each list spanning several pages of words written in three columns. There is this feeling of being lost in a wood where the trees are made of words.

Fortunately, technology makes it so much easier to deal with such word lists. I found myself introducing the “control F” function on the computer to several teachers over the last two weeks. Holding down those two keys open a “dialogue box” that allows you to type in a word. If the word appears in the list, you will be magically transported to the right place. If those letters appear in other words as well, those places will also be shown, but the little number on the side of the “box” shows you the number of words available. There are arrows to move between the words.

So helpful!

It particularly came in handy while I was thinking about the character of Sophie, George’s sister in the story “A Summer’s Reading” by Malamud. She’s a very minor character in the story but I thought that adding her point of view could give me a useful way to review the story,  practice vocabulary from the word list in context and the higher order thinking skill known as “distinguishing different perspectives” all in one go.  It’s quite easy to imagine some things Sophie might have thought in reference to her brother.

Her voice is hardly heard…
Naomi’s Photos

I identified 58 vocabulary items from the Band 3 word list as words to use while teaching this story. You can find them on the Quizlet list here:

I wrote sentences on index cards. Each sentence uses a vocabulary item from the list (a word or a chunk) and a few use two words. The words are highlighted in orange. I used 28 items from the Quizlet list. Each index card presents a statement one of the characters in the story may have thought or said. These are not sentences from the story itself!

My class of Deaf and hard of hearing students and I read each card together and then discussed who might have said/thought such a thing. It was really great to see how they explained to each other which parts of the sentences gave them the information they needed to decide from whose perspective it was written. The students were very involved in the activity without officially turning it into a game.  The students could be asked to read the sentences out loud “in character”, but I haven’t tried that yet. Frankly, I was very pleased with the students’ reactions!

Here are examples of sentences from Sophie’s point of view. The activity also includes George’s and Mr. Cattanzara’s possible statements. For the full list of sentences,  click on the title of the attached word document below (you can download it). I hope you find the activity helpful too!

“He won’t come out of his room. I don’t know how he can breathe in there! It is very hot.”

“I don’t understand. He says he is reading books but I don’t see any evidence around the house. Is he telling the truth?”

“Working in a cafeteria in the Bronx means that I’m not home during the day”.

“I wish he would get a job! it would enable us to stop living in poverty!”

“Our mother’s absence really made a difference in our lives. I have to live at home and take care of my father and brother”.

Or as George may have said, sadly:

“Getting some money from my sister is my only source of income“.

Summer Reading Perspective-1owtxz2




5 thoughts on “Using “Control F” to add Sophie’s Voice to “A Summer’s Reading” by Malamud”

  1. Naomi — Thank you . I always find your suggestions to be creative, interesting and effective . I pass them on to my colleagues.

  2. “Sophie” means “wisdom,” so she is George’s foil. They are also described as being physically similar & in literature that’s a sign that they should actually be similar in all things, meaning George is SUPPOSED to be wise, he just got stuck as a stone as his name “Stoyonovich” indicates. Mr. Cattanzara (“chained” in Italian as well as קטן + זרה in Hebrew, which Malamud knew, indicating that his lack of formal education at a young age made him “small” & an “outsider” (note it’s also the feminine form, indicating weakness). BTW, “George” is (was) the ultimate American name (as in George Washington), he has all the opportunities that his immigrant father could only dream of. Note, his father has NO name because he has no language & is forced into an existence of early risings, fish markets, a railroad flat above a butcher. Cattanzara, on the other hand, wears a halo when he reads the NY Times since that type of “education” was seen as holy. Note, too, the shoemaker references. The light of the shoemaker. There’s a midhrash that relates to a shoemaker as someone who helps people walk, move forward. So the REAL changemaker makes change in George & not in his underworld subway existence. Note, too, that he does that NOT by spreading bad rumors about George, but by spreading good ones!

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