Novel Comes Alive to Seventh Graders

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What was it really like to be a young soldier in the Roman army? How much did Jesus’ culture depend on sheep and goats? What did the bitter herbs of the Passover meal taste like? These and other questions were answered as seventh graders recently connected in a tangible way what life was like during the time of Jesus, which was the setting for their spring novel, “The Bronze Bow.” Awarded the Newbury Award in 1962, Elizabeth Speare’s novel blends history and fiction into an intriguing tale; the main character, an orphaned Jewish teen named Daniel, redirects his hatred for the Romans and their domination of the Jewish people into a new way of thinking after a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. 

English teacher Nancy Perry said, “I asked the students to focus on teaching their classmates something new and meaningful about the culture of the times to enrich our understanding of the novel setting and characters. Their preparation paid off as they enthusiastically and confidently shared their knowledge.”  

Working with partners, students shared and documented research, developed an outline, and prepared a visual aide, culminating in a presentation for the class.  Some of the topics included were the Sea of Galilee, the Zealots and Essenes, common trades and occupations in the time of Jesus, clothing, food, Roman weapons, the lifestyle of a Roman soldier, the Passover, and the role of livestock.  

“The presentations were an enlightening, fun way to top off the novel,” added Perry.

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