Familia Mala – Mythology for the Novice learner.

Familia Mala: Saturnus et Iuppiter

Other level B novice Latin texts:

Agrippina: Mater Fortis by Lance Piantaggini at Magister P – A Roman matron has a secret.  Who else knows?

Brando Brown Canem Vult – A young boy wants a dog but his parents do not think he is ready.  What will he do?

Ego, Polyphemus by Andrew Stephan Olimpi at Comprehensible Classics – The cyclops Polyphemus has strange visitors and learns the hard lessons of love.

Self directed reading has been a positive for students.  A big reason for that is because many authors have published a variety of materials.  The intention of these novella reviews is to offer observations from my classroom as students interact with the text.  Student directed reading of comprehensible materials is one of the most powerful ways we can facilitate comprehensible input for students.

Recently I purchased a copy of Familia Mala:  Saturnus et Iuppiter by Andrew S Olimpi for the SDR library.  It has quickly become a student favorite.  I’ve discovered that materials for the novice reader tend to struggle to accomplish compelling input.  There is a fine line with repetition and a compelling narrative.  Familia Mala walks the line of repetition and a compelling narrative, while retelling myths from antiquity.  It literally brings comprehensible access to antiquity.

Students enjoy learning about the myth of Saturn and they often tell me with confidence that they understand it from the Latin.  Many of them have continued to read Via Periculosa and Filia Regis also authored by Olimpi.  They comment on enjoying the style of a complete story line with just enough support with images throughout the text, appropriate for novice level readers.

Over the past 3 years, we have used this title as a class novel for 2nd semester Latin 1.  I find it fitting as students are able to approach family dynamics from a story that presents clear familial conflict.  This creates numerous opportunities for language tasks, personalized question and answer discussions and book club reading sessions with multiple repetitions with vocabulary common to explore family.  Make sure and check out the SSR handbook in preparation for book clubs and reading activities to promote a positive reading environment.

Familia Mala is a fantastic title to start a free reading program or a class novel reading.  It is comprehensible, yet students do not seem to be deterred by repetition.  Many of level 2 and 3 students read it as well as a leisure read that keeps them engaged with Roman mythology.  An early novice learner will be able to read this title but many of my students emerging into novice high or intermediate low choose it.



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