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On the READ at HOME

August 23, 2021 by Maria Cleary

Welcome back! We are On the Read, a short series of blog posts all about travel. Together, we have set off on an adventure across continents and oceans, through the pages of our favourite Helbling Readers, extending our steps both in space and in time. We are on a journey to six major destinations, doing some sight-seeing, learning about culture, and getting some travel tips.

Our first destination was London. From London, we travelled to Italy and visited Venice and Rome. Then we travelled to Asia and explored India and the Himalayas. We continued our journey to the United States of America and now we travel to the vast continent of Africa, just before packing our bags for our journey back home.

Travel tip: if you cannot do this project over the holidays, plan it for the next semester or year, as a reading club or extensive reading project.

1 The destination

Home is where everything starts and ends, but until the COVID-19 pandemic we rarely thought of it as a real holiday destination. However, home is where important things happen to us on a daily basis, and our home shapes and defines us just as much as our most memorable holidays do. Let’s take a look at our homes with fresh eyes and explore them just as if they were places of our travel dreams and embark on a staycation together.

Activity tip 1: Brainstorm ideas about home. You can start by writing the phrase ‘Home is where …’ without finishing it. Ask your students to complete the sentence with their own ideas. 

Activity tip 2: Tell your students to imagine moving into a new, empty house in a new town or city. What do they need to feel that this new house is their home?

2 Getting there and getting around: experiences of home

Home can mean a wide range of things, for example your house, neighbourhood, city or country. What does it take to get the sensation that not only your own house but also your neighbourhood, town or city and country makes you feel at home?

What do you need to navigate these home environments safely and in comfort? You can write the words ‘people’, ‘friends and family’, ‘experiences’, ‘emotions’, ‘life events’, ‘food’, ‘smells’ on the board. Then ask students why they think these are linked to the concept of home. Then, they can summarize their own ideas around these topics in connection with their own home. You can further help students by giving them questions:

  • Who are the people that make you feel comfortable?
  • What do you need to feel safe at home? Do you have favourite objects or things?
  • What are the most important life events that happen at home?
  • What food makes you think of home? If you had to host a dinner party, what dishes would you prepare to show what home tastes like?
  • Think of smells which are typical in your home. Describe them.

You can also discuss that one person can have many homes. Can you imagine feeling like home in two different places, two different countries, two different cultures? 

3 Stories to think about home

In the Helbling Readers series, there are many stories that tell us about different aspects of home. They show us what home feels like and what it takes to call a place our home. Ask your students to pick one of these stories and answer some questions about the home in them. For each story, first ask students to describe where the home of the story is and what it looks like.

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie, adapted by Geraldine Sweeney (Level 1 A1)

  • What do the Darlings do that make their evenings special together? 
  • Who is Nana? Why is she a special member of the family?

The Railway Children by Edith Nesbit, adapted by Jennifer Gascoigne (Level 1 A1)

  • What do the children pack for their new home?
  • What would you take if you had to move to a new place?

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, adapted by Jennifer Gascoigne (Level 2 A1/A2)

  • Who is missing from the March family home?
  • Who are the most important people that make a place feel like home in your life?

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery, adapted by Nicole Harrick (Level 2 A1/A2)

  • What things and events make Green Gables feel like home for Anne?

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, adpated by Geraldine Sweeney (Level 2 A1/A2)

  • How is Mary’s new home different from her old one in India?
  • How does the new home really start feeling like a home?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, adapted by Frances Mariani (Level 4 A2/B1)

  • How many different places does Jane live in?
  • Which place really feels like home to her?

The Fall of the House of Usher in Tales of Mystery by Edgar Allan Poe, adapted by Janet Olearski (Level 5 B1)

  • What does Usher believe about the house where he lives?
  • What does the crack in the wall symbolize?
4 Top sights around your home

We have an activity tip for your students. Ask them to imagine that they are tourists in their own home or they can be hosts to visitors. First, tell them to walk around as if they were on holiday and imagine which buildings, parks, sights they would like to visit and where they would sit down for a meal, a cake or a coffee. Then, they can think of travel options (from the capital city) and accommodation in their home. Ask them to write a holiday plan for a one- or two-day stay in their own homes.

5 Top literary homes

Many authors’ homes are now museums you can visit. We have collected some of our favourite literary homes of authors featured in the Helbling Readers series. Check out our list and then ask the students to visit the online website of the home of an author whose book they have read. They can also search for photos and check the location of the house on the map. 

When students talk about these homes, ask them to check when the authors lived in them and think about these questions:

  • How did people travel at the time when the author lived there?
  • Was there electricity?
  • How did people cook their meals? 
  • How did they heat their homes?
  • Did the use the home as a writing retreat?

Top literary homes of classic authors in the Helbling Readers series. Where are these places? What can you see there?

If the author whose book you have read is not on our list, do check if there is a museum connected to his/her birthplace or residence.

For more literary homes, check out this article and map on the Times Literary Supplement website:

6 Home vocabulary

Check out these different synonyms for home and house. What do they exactly mean? Remember, they are synonyms of different meanings of home so do check the many meanings of home.

  • abode
  • digs
  • dwelling
  • residence
  • place
  • roof
  • birthplace
Phrases with home: What do these phrases mean?
  • hit home
  • close to home
  • feel at home
  • home bird
  • homey
  • home run
  • home is where the heart is
  • home and dry
  • a home from home
7 The Helbling Readers Day at home

Planning a Helbling Readers Day at home is easy. Everyone has an ideal day of spending the day at home, and hopefully it always involves a lot of reading. The Helbling Readers Day at home starts with a tasty breakfast. It is followed by reading the daily papers (either online or offline) and some articles we have been looking forward to reading. You need a nice cup of tea or coffee to do this much reading! After a light lunch, we pack our bags and head to a park or beach where we can read our favourite novel. Of course, we love telling our friends about what we have read and we listen to book recommendations, too. The evening cannot go without reading either. There’s nothing better than a good bedtime story, no matter how old you are.

What is your ideal day at home like? What do you read? How many different types of things do you read during a day?

This is the end of our journey around the world. Which was your favourite destination? If you have any other cities, countries or continents you would like to visit but weren't on our list, just plan a similar journey there as you did with us. Remember, when you pick destinations, you can also travel back in time, not only in place!