Please Don’t Ignore the Repetition: a Mini-lesson

My students are pretty good at noticing rhetorical devices in texts; they aren’t so good at analyzing what effect they have on meaning. Since we immerse ourselves in independent reading all year, and we read bookshelf after bookshelf of YA novels, I find that using bits from those books and then talking about why the author wrote the text that way helps when students need to analyze these devices in more complex texts. Somehow this practice takes their tentative and repetitive “for emphasis” away and makes their analysis so much richer. (Most of the time.)

Like this passage from Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King:

I wonder if I’d called the police back when I was ten or thirteen or fifteen, would Charlie be alive now. I regret it. I regret every minute I lived keeping that secret. I regret every time I didn’t talk to Charlie about it. I regret having parents who couldn’t try to help or seem to care. I regret not being reason enough to make them care more. I regret never saying what I was thinking, never saying, “But what if that was me? What if I marry some loser who hits me? Would you care then? Would you help?” And I regret not called the police that first day we met the pervert. Because I’m sure he had something to do with how Charlie was acting at the end. p264


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