The Goose Girl
Shannon Hale

More Information About The Goose Girl

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Reading Activities

Reading Strategies

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  • SurLaLune Fairytales
    This website offers a variety of recorded original fairy tales, along with subsidiary materials to go along with each one.

Prior to reading the novel, it is important for students to understand the characteristics of a traditional fairy tale. Most of them have seen the Disney versions of many fairy tales, but may be unaware of the recorded versions. In this activity, students will read one of the various fairy tales available on this website, such as Snow White or Sleeping Beauty (according to teacher preference). They will write a short essay in which they identify the major characters, their roles, and how this fairy tale compares with others of which they are aware. Then, students will write a prediction of how they think the Goose Girl will progress based on their readings and observations. This will help students compare the novel as they read to traditional fairy tales.

  • SurLaLune Fairytales
    Bottigheimer, Ruth B. Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. 21 Sept.

2008. <>.

This website offers an informative article regarding the history of the fairy tale.

Because the Goose Girl is a modern telling of a traditional fairy tale, it is important for students to see how fairy tales have evolved to the present. Therefore, in this activity students will be given a brief introduction of the history behind the fairy tale as offered on the first website. Students will then explore the second website, including the timeline and various histories behind the different individual fairy tales. Using the information from the website, students will then complete a timeline of their own in any creative form that they choose and include a written paragraph on how they think fairy tales have changed since their beginning. This will help students analyze how the story is indicative of the “modern” fairy tale.

The website will display links to history and illustrations involving the Goose Girl. The history page gives a brief overview the fairy tale and its connections. The illustrations link offers several artists’ renditions of the Goose Girl based on the original tale.

Since the Goose Girl is a modern retelling of a Grimm’s brothers’ fairy tale, it is good for the students to know the history behind the original story. Students will visit the website and explore the history and art pages associated with the tale. They will then fill out a worksheet based on the website and write a character analysis of the Goose Girl based on one of the paintings available online. This will help students compare the original interpretations of Ani (the heroine) to that of the novel as they read. Side Note: Teachers could do a follow-up activity later by having students draw their own interpretations of Ani after they have completed the novel.

The website offers various statistics regarding each state, including population, race, economic status, and employment.

One of the major themes of the Goose Girl is accepting each other’s differences. Therefore, in this activity, the instructor will visit the above website and find his or her state. Then, he or she will share with the students the different demographics of the state, including race, gender, economic status, and any other relevant information. The class will then discuss how every society has different types of people and even each individual is different in some way. Students will then share something unique about themselves. They will be given a log to complete while reading the book of each major character in the novel and write the unique traits and talents of each individual. By doing so, students will learn how accepting each other’s differences is a major theme in the Goose Girl and applies to the real world.

The website offers a unique short fairy tale that, in reality, tells the story of the fairy tale.

As students are about to read a modern fairytale, it is important for them to recognize what a fairytale is as well as its major elements. By reading this story, students are learning the history and traditional form of the fairy tale at the same time. Have students read the story and then answer a few questions regarding the form of the story and elements of a fairytale. Then, allow them to write their own short fairy tale and share it with the class. This will help students internalize both the background and form of the traditional fairytale, which they can then compare with the Goose Girl.

The website offers an article that gives practical examples and definitions for foreshadowing.

One of the main literary techniques Shannon Hale uses in the Goose Girl is foreshadowing. As students have read the first hundred pages, introduce the topic by giving the students practical examples of how they use foreshadowing in their own lives. For example, in a movie they might see someone hide something or look at someone peculiarly. They have to figure out what that will mean later on in the film (a film clip could be shown). Explain to students that this is foreshadowing. Use the above website to offer practical examples of how this is used in writing. Then ask the students if they noticed any signs of Selia’s mutiny earlier in the story. Read the passages that do foreshadow this, such as “Ani noticed on these nights that Selia and Ungolad often stole moments in quiet conversation.” There are several more. Conclude by having the students write down a tentative definition of foreshadowing and give another example of possible foreshadowing in the story.

This website gives a Bloomsbury poll of sixteen-thousand British school children in which they identify their top literary villains.

Because the Goose Girl is a fairy tale, there must be a villain. However, in the story there are two. As students have completed at least half of the novel, introduce this lesson. Ask the students who they believe is the true villain of the novel – the Queen, Selia, or Ungolad. Ask them to name some of the qualities of a villain. What makes a villain? As the list is formed, then ask them to compare the Queen and Selia to this list. Who better fits into this mold? Are there ways both of them differ? Then, have them write down their “top two” villains from books of which they are aware or have read. Accept nominations from students, make a list on the board, and vote on who they think is the “greatest villain” of literature. Then, compare this to the list on the above website. Conclude by explaining how as the students continue to read the novel they need to look for the characteristics of the villains (Selia and Ungolad) and the ways she differs and conforms to the characteristics discussed.

  • Discussion
    The website offers excellent discussion questions regarding many different aspects of the Goose Girl.

As students read the Goose Girl, there are many different issues and themes to consider. Include this lesson when students have read at least half of the novel. Begin the lesson by asking students to name some of the questions they have had while reading the book. List them on the board. Then, divide the class into groups and assign each different questions to discuss. Give each group a piece of poster paper with divisions that read – “What my group thinks,” “Why we think this,” and “Evidence from the book.” After they have discussed have each group present what they have decided. The above website has some excellent discussion questions to consider assigning as well.

  • Discrimination
    This website offers excellent information regarding the Holocaust, including examples of children who suffered from it.

As students are reading the book, they need to notice the major themes, one of which is discrimination. This lesson can be included when students have read as little as the first five to ten chapters. Begin by reading the passages in which Ani is talking to her mother, the Queen. Focus on the repeated expression, “Separation, elevation, delegation.” Ask what students think this means and if they can think of other times in history similar feelings have been expressed towards certain groups. Explain that in history, there have unfortunately been many instances of discrimination. In America, the Japanese internment camps, the American Indians, and the Civil Rights Movement. One of the most prominent examples, however, that fits with this quote is the Holocaust. Ask the students what they know about the Holocaust and how it began. Then, allow the students to explore the above website and have them fill out a scavenger hunt worksheet in which they search for relevant information regarding the discrimination that started the Holocaust.

  • Journey
    This article offers a very simplified look at the different ways setting can be used in literature, including to create mood, be used as an antagonist, set historical background, and for symbolic purposes.

In the first hundred pages of the Goose Girl, Ani goes on her journey from Kildinree to Bayern. During this time, setting plays a major role in the story. Begin by having students write a paragraph in which they describe a place they have visited without telling its location. Ask the students to try to offer enough specific details that others can picture the place. Have a couple of the students read their paragraphs and the others guess the location. After this activity, point out that in order to get a clear picture from writing, it must be specific and detailed. Read passages in the Goose Girl that describe the setting. Then, look at the different ways setting is used. Refer to the website above, which simply illustrates some of the uses of setting in literature. Conclude by having students create their own map of Ani’s journey (in comparison with the one in the front of the novel).

  • Storytelling
    The website offers some excellent information regarding the various elements of storytelling for beginners.

In the Goose Girl, one of Ani’s gifts is the gift of storytelling. Throughout the novel, she is telling the stories of her childhood – legends and folklore. Ask the students to recount some of the stories they remember from the book. Then, ask why they think those that heard Ani’s stories were so engaged in what she was saying. Give the students a handout that explains the basics of storytelling (as provided by the website). Review it with them, and assign students to take one of the Grimm’s fairy tales and prepare to tell it. Have them either present this to the class or present it in smaller groups.

  • The Original Tale
    This website provides the original tale of the Goose Girl in its entirety.

Because the Goose Girl was originally a Grimm’s brothers fairy tale, it is important that students understand the changes that took place in the modern retelling. Have the students read the original tale as provided by the above website. Give them a worksheet in which they fill out information that allows them to see the differences and similarities between the two. Discuss these as a class. Are any of the characters different? Are all of the characters in both stories? Are the themes still the same? What are the differences in Ani’s personality and gifts? Then, have students write an essay in which they compare the two stories.

  • Symbols
    This website outlines some of the uses and definitions of symbols. Some of the content may be too complicated for a middle school audience; therefore, teachers may want to only use portions of the material.

As students have read the Goose Girl, there are many different symbols they should have noticed. Use the information given on the above website and discuss what symbols are in literature. Give several examples from the book, such as the handkerchief, the wind, Ani’s hair, etc. Then, see if the students can explain what these things symbolize in the book. After the discussion, give students a piece of paper and ask them to create a symbol of themselves. They can use one quote if they would like along with illustrations. Have students share their drawings and explain how this symbolizes them.

  • Language
    This website translates various words and phrases into hundreds of languages.

One of the major themes in the Goose Girl is that of the art of communication. Some people are labeled with the gift of “people-speaking” while Ani has the gift of speaking to other things, including animals and the wind. Ask students to explain the different types of communication in the novel. How did Selia and the Queen communicate? How did Ani’s communication skills grow through the novel? How did they help her to adapt in her new culture? Use the above website to show students all the different ways that people communicate with one another. Allow them to choose a word and find it in ten different languages. Have them present these words through a creative medium (poster, PowerPoint, slide show, etc.) along with a paragraph in which they explain how communication is important in breaking down cultural barriers.

  • Self-Discovery
    The link to a student interest survey that allows students to think about many different aspects of themselves, including their hobbies, cultural interests, and relationships.

One of the most important themes in the Goose Girl is that of self-discovery through the character of Ani. Ask the students to explain some of the ways that Ani changes in the course of the novel (if they did the before activity in which they have been keeping a log, they can use this). What are some of the things that cause her to change? Make a list of their responses on the board. Then, ask how this relates to real people. What are some of the things that characterize each of the students? Have the students take the student interest survey offered on the above website or one similar. Conclude by discussing how this might have helped them know a few things about themselves. Did any of them have a self-discovery?

Before Strategy
Concept Analysis
During Strategy
Multicultural Strategy
Problematic Strategy
Questioning Strategy
Raygor Estimate
Taxonomy Overview
Vocabulary Strategy