The Island is a powerful picture book about refugees, xenophobia, social politics, social contact and human rights. It tackles big themes with a fable-like text and artwork that will provoke discussion for upper primary and secondary school levels about issues that remain so much a part of our national discourse. This picture book is a hard hitting, difficult and distressing text but we have included it here as we do know some teachers in monocultural schools who have used it to powerful effect with Year 6 children or secondary school children. It could be unsettling for a child who has any heritage of migration in their family history. It can be used with care and thought to develop understanding of the potential impact of hate and fear.
Using The Island by Armin Greder to explore concepts of anger, fear and hostility.
KS3 | 60 Mins | Teacher led
KEY QUESTION:What can the consequences of anger, fear and hostility towards others feel and look like?
The Island by Armin Greder is a powerful picture book for exploring the concepts of anger, fear and hostility. This is not a standalone activity; it needs to be part of a wider discussion and is only appropriate to use in a class environment where everyone is secure.
In this picture book, an outsider arrives on the island and the inhabitants want to send him back out to sea. However a fisherman encourages the islanders to take him in. As the plot develops, the outsider experiences anger, fear and hostility from the islanders. The story ends unhappily with the outsider being marched back to sea and the fisherman suffering crime at the hands of the islanders when they set his boat alight for suggesting they help the man.
The pictures in the story make this resource more suitable for key stage 3. However, the harrowing nature of the images alone creates opportunities for discussions about fear of perceived difference and prejudice related bullying.
The moral of the plot delves into discussions about how we welcome people into our communities, making this picture book particularly relevant to the exploration of the question: How do we all live together?
Below is a collection of different approaches that could be used separately or in sequence:
1. Read the text of the story to the class without showing the pictures, and ask learners to imagine, perhaps with their eyes shut, what is happening, and the emotions that are being felt by characters. Ask ‘What did you imagine/see?’ and collect some responses on the whiteboard.
2. Read the story showing the images and see what other ideas, thoughts and feelings can be added to the collection of responses, either in a different colour or in a different place. Be aware that many of these images are quite disturbing, and will provoke a lot of meaningful discussion that needs handling sensitively.
3. Discuss the ending with a group. You might explore these questions: Why do you think the author didn’t use a happy ending? What has fear led to in the end?
4. Share with learners the idea that some people write stories and poems to send a message, and consider what Armin Greder’s message might be. What is his message?
5. Learners might benefit here from individually writing their response to the story, and some answers or reflections on the key question: What is the best way for us all to live together?
Introduce learners to a news article that relates to the idea of immigration, deportation etc on a larger scale, and discuss or make links between the story and the news article.
One example for 2010 would be the expulsion of Roma people from camps in France. You could search the BBC news site for relevant clips.