The Rainbow Fish

Is Marcus Pfister’s The Rainbow Fish a nice little story about sharing, or is it the disturbing tale of an aquatic dystopia in which bullying is the preferred tactic to enforce absolute conformity? Join us for an episode that will make you realize for the first time that you’ve been reading a book about the worst possible form of communism.

Activity: Should Government Be Involved?

Have students fold a piece of paper into thirds to create three columns. At the top of the columns write “always,” “sometimes,” and “never.” List various aspects of public and private life, such as education, marriage, parenting, transportation, health care, banking, dietary choices, product safety, imports and exports, the environment, careers, public safety, and so on. Have students write which things should always, sometimes, or never be regulated by the government they live under. Do not influence the students by telling them where you would place a certain item, but do ask questions that encourage them to think thoroughly about where they would place a certain topic and why. Encourage students to think about how not all societies are the same, and how something that works in one political setting may not work in another due to factors like demographics, population size, the level of economic development, and available financial and material resources. Remind students that their views may change over time, and it’s good to think about these issues from time to time.

Much Ado About Nothing

Much Ado About Nothing is one of Shakespeare’s most accessible works to modern readers, and its themes will be very familiar to young people today, since they still have to deal with the issues of gossip, relationship drama, and toxic people who just want to tear others down. Teenagers will enjoy this play not only for its fantastic wordplay and raucous plot, but also they way it addresses problems that affect trust, friendship, and forgiveness that will be very familiar to them.

Activity: Essay Prompts

Use one of the following prompts for a discussion or written essay about Much Ado About Nothing:

    • If you were Hero, would you have taken back Claudio at the end after he had caused you so much harm? Why or why not?
    • When Claudio accuses Hero, at first her father believes him and not his own daughter. What does Leonato’s angry outbust say about him? Was this just a moment of high emotions or does it show that he isn’t as good of a father as he seemed?
    • Is it ethical for friends to scheme to get couples together, even if the intentions and outcome are good? Where is the line between encouragement of and meddling in others’ relationships?
    • Don Pedro gave his toxic brother Don John a second chance, and sadly Don John used this as a chance to hurt others. How can you tell the difference between someone who deserves a second chance at friendship and someone who will just continue to be hurtful if you stay close to them? What should you do if it seems impossible to know for sure?
    • If you have had a big fight with a close friend but you want to make amends, what is the best way to get started?

Activity: Modern-day Beatrice and Benedick

Choose a scene from Much Ado About Nothing in which Beatrice and Benedick have a “merry war” of words between one another. Rewrite the scene, using the same style of insults and teasing but with modern-day English. The scene could be written as a play script or in prose as if it were in a novel.