The Great American Eclipse in ELA: Literature

The Great American Eclipse in ELA: Literature

Plenty has been written in the world of nonfiction regarding solar eclipses throughout history, but literature is equally versed in beautiful prose and meter about this topic. Below, find links to a few pieces of literature that feature or relate to solar eclipse, then try out one or two of our suggestions for ways to incorporate August 21st’s phenomenon into your ELA or Reading classroom!

 

Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass (Middle Grades, 740L)

The lives of three very different teenagers intersect during a rare and total solar eclipse.

https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/books/every-soul-a-star-by-wendy-mass/

“And as streams of light fan out behind the darkened sun like the wings of a butterfly, I realize that I never saw real beauty until now.”

 

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain (Classic, 1020L)
Chapter 6: The Eclipse

Hank uses his knowledge of the eclipse to manipulate those around him. He is slated to be killed, but claims that he can cause a great catastrophy, using the date/time of the eclipse. This both saves his life and sets him free and keeps him in constant danger. This sets up a primary conflict in the narrative.

This link includes the text of the chapter, and audio version, and a student activity.
http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/174/a-connecticut-yankee-in-king-arthurs-court/3049/chapter-6-the-eclipse/

“Banish this calamity, spare the sun!”

 

All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury (Science Fiction Short Story, 770L)

This short story takes place on the planet Venus in a future world where people have come to set up a civilization.  On the planet Venus, as imagined by the author, the sun appears for only two hours every seven years. A class of nine-year-olds eagerly awaits a brief glimpse of the sun, especially one student named Margot.

This story features events that can be viewed as the opposite of an eclipse—rather than the sun disappearing, it only appears once every 7 years. Students may compare the excitement of “summer” in the story to that of a natural event like an eclipse.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaLzm3B1ewY

 

Total Eclipse by Annie Dillard (Personal Essay)
from Teaching a Stone to Talk

This essay from the book Teaching a Stone to Talk is the author’s description of the February 26, 1979 solar eclipse, ripe with imagery and figurative language.

https://home.ubalt.edu/ntygfit/ai_05_mapping_directions/ai_05_see/ad_total_eclipse.htm

“I turned back to the sun. It was going. The sun was going, and the world was wrong. The grasses were wrong; they were platinum. Their every detail of stem, head, and blade shone lightless and artificially distinct as an art photographer’s platinum print. This color has never been seen on earth. The hues were metallic; their finish was matte.”

 

Mythology

Mythology has added its own take on astronomy, and even eclipses in particular. Use the following link to learn about mythos from other cultures that explore natural phenomena.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/11/131101-solar-eclipse-myth-legend-space-science/

 

Ideas for Literature Connections related to the Eclipse:

  • Write poem after experiencing the solar eclipse. Consider a haiku, or an ode similar in style to Odes to Common Things by Pablo Neruda.
  • Make connections between literature, themes, and the eclipse. For example, the eclipse (darkness) is a symptom of an astrological event. How is this theme illustrated in life and literature?
  • Compare two or three pieces of literature, specifically the literary devices used to describe a solar eclipse in each. Perhaps pair a short story, novel excerpt, and nonfiction passage.
  • Write a short story titled “The Day the Light Died.”
Tori Friedrich, M.Ed has a background in Curriculum and Instruction and music education. She has been writing for Teengagement for over 15 years and is passionate about engaging people through relevant, meaningful content. Outside of work, Tori enjoys music from Bach to Hamilton, and cheering on the Kansas City Royals with her husband and three young sons.

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