If your students would rather fall into a black hole than complete their reading assignments, here’s a solution. Fantastic Reading is the only activity book providing high-interest science fiction and fantasy stories that make students eager to read.
Isaac Asimov, the world-renowned science fiction writer, helped edit the collection and contributed a foreword and three Part introductions to this anthology. David Clark Yeager, an experienced public school teacher and language arts specialist, provided follow-up activities that challenge students’ imaginations and reinforce vital academic skills.
Fantastic Reading offers a unique total language approach to reading and language instruction. Reproducible activities that develop vocabulary, writing, comprehension, and study skill saccompany each reading selection. These motivating activities help you create an integrated language arts program that your students will enjoy.
Fantastic Reading contains other galactic features. Each unit is reproducible, self-contained, and can be assigned in any order. Concise directions for students minimize your preparation time. In addition, a Writing Skills Index and a Content Skills Index help you select readings for particular language and comprehension skills.
Your students will think Fantastic Reading is out of this world. And you’ll find this the perfect way to launch your reading and language arts program.
Over the course of his career, Asimov wrote a number of books which are appropriate for use in the classroom—a cousin of mine, for example, had The Universe as a college introductory astronomy text—but only three written specifically for the classroom. The first is one of my favorite anthologies, Where Do We Go From Here?, and the third is The Complete Science Fair Handbook, which I enjoyed rather more than I’d expected to.
This middle book is an attempt to put into action Asimov’s contention that science fiction would be an excellent teaching tool, stimulating the curiosity of those who read it. I can’t say this book is the best example of how to go about it.
It’s divided into three parts: Creatures, Macabre, and Fantasy. The first has five stories in it, the second also five, and the third seven. Each section of the book has a general introduction by Asimov. Each story is preceded by a vocabulary list and followed by extensive quizzes and activities that might be used in the classroom to get the students to think about the stories. The stories themselves tend to run towards the short-short length and are generally light in tone.
Asimov is represented by three tales—“Dreamworld,” “The Fun They Had,” and “Buy Jupiter.” There’s no doubt but that “Dreamworld” is not only my favorite story of the three but my favorite of the seventeen in the book. This selection, however, tends to give one a good idea for the overall uneven quality of the book, which is a sharp contrast with Where Do We Go From Here?, where I enjoy nearly every story. Part of the problem is that it’s aimed at fifth- to eight-graders, and average ones at that, which means not-very-bright twelve-year-olds are expected to be able to manage the stories, and that, in turn, means that the stories can’t be terribly challenging.
As for the educational ideas and activities, which actually account for perhaps twice as much of the book’s 164 pages as the stories and which were presumably the job of co-author David Clark Yeager—I can’t say. I’m not an elementary school teacher, I’m not an elementary school student, and all of my kids have elementary school well behind them. I think that many of them would be stimulating and interesting for the kids and certainly there are a lot that I’d have been willing to help my own fifth grader on when I still had one. It’s for their sake that I give the book two spaceships-and-suns for the target audience. For me, there’s no real reason to go through it again.