I mentioned a couple of months ago that the girls and I love to read books together. They are still young, only 4 and 6, however the snuggle time in Mommy and Daddy’s bed is a huge treat to them so they like to listen to bigger books even though there are fewer to no pictures.
It’s taken us a few months to get through The Secret Garden, especially since we took a few weeks off from reading. But we finally made it through the book. At each reading session we always gave a recap of what was going on, then the girls snuggled in for some reading. Sometimes while we were in the middle of a chapter, and sometimes when we were done reading we stopped to talk about some of the points we had just read about.
On good days the girls had questions about the book, characters, plot, etc. On bad days their attention span was shot and they had no idea what they had just listened to. On occasion they would fall asleep, and I would just consider that a need for them to catch a few zzzz’s before dinner.
I thought I would share some of the discussion points we covered while reading The Secret Garden. Remember, these were points discussed with a 4 year old and a 6 year old, but you can adjust them to use with kids of any age. Don’t forget to keep these open ended. Ask the kids what they think and try not to give them too much help. Just discuss and ask them questions to forward the conversation and enhance their own critical thinking on the subject.
1. Respect and Manners: There are so many wonderful concepts in The Secret Garden, however with any great book, there needs to be conflict. In this case, one of the conflicts the characters need to overcome is a somewhat disagreeable personality, to put it in terms related to the book. With our girls we talked about the actions of the kids throughout the book and noted how they changed over time. We talked about Mary’s personality right from the start and how she treated people. I asked the girls how they would have reacted if they were the character or in a similar situation. We did the same with Colin and how he treated other people. We also talked about how they became more agreeable as the story progressed and discussed why they thought that happened.
2. Quotes: This book is full of wonderful one liner quotes. These are great to just discuss or even give to your kids as journal prompts. Some of my favorites are “If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.” Also, “How does thee like thyself?” Or even, “Of course there must be lots of Magic in the world, but people don’t know what it is like or how to make it.” Ask your kids what their favorite quote was. You might be surprised.
3. Magic: I don’t think I can skip over the concept of magic when discussing The Secret Garden because it is such a loaded word. It seems as though you ask 100 people what magic is and you’ll get 1000 responses. Magic is different to everyone and often everyone has more than one definition of it. This is a fun question to ask the kids about as we read through the book, especially as we get toward the end and Colin is commenting on it frequently. When the girls get a bit older and we read this again, I’ll be asking them about the comparison of magic and science Colin is discussing. As well as the legitimacy of his scientific experiment. For me this is probably my favorite concept in the entire book.
4. The Secret Garden: Ok, probably the most important player in this book is the garden. It brings out curiosity, friendship, love, energy, healing and so much more. It’s amazing what getting into nature can do for you, and the same thing applies to the Secret Garden and how it affects everyone involved. Talk about the different types of flowers found in the Secret Garden. Talk about how excited the kids are to be in the Secret Garden. Talk about they mystery and stories contained in the Secret Garden! There are so many directions you could take this concept, just talk about it and see where the conversation goes. Maybe the kids will want to start planning and planting their own secret garden!
What is your favorite concept in The Secret Garden? Tell me in the comments.