10-second review: A quote to think about.
Title: "Realistic Reading and Literature or Let’s Tell It Like It Is.” FT Humphreville. Elementary English (April 1969), 537-540. Elementary English was the NCTE’s elementary school journal before it was replaced by Language Arts.
The Quote: “The ‘reaction sessions’ and the correlated activities with pupils are not intended to border on the psychological in any fashion for there is nothing more dangerous than amateur attempts at depth probing by even the most well-meaning individual, unless she has been carefully trained for it. Rather these sessions are meant to provide a varied approach to individual thinking in a way that takes recall or comprehension away from the unrelated obvious such as ‘How many people were in the story? When did the boy take the wagon to the back yard?’ ”
Comment: If you haven’t heard of “bibliotherapy” before, it’s a technique to give children books related to their personal problems. It’s a dangerous practice. And, if discussions about a book begin to involve issues that might relate to a student's personal problems, that, too, is dangerous.
From my point of view, the best questions to start a literary discussion are the children’s questions about what they don’t understand. There’s a thin line between dealing with literary problems, personal experience to help in interpreting a literary work and dealing directly with students’ personal problems. RayS.