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Gail Skroback Hennessey taught for over 33 years, teaching sixth grade in all but two years. She earned a BA in early secondary education with a concentration in social studies and an MST in social...
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It's the Time of Year for A Christmas Carol and Learning about Charles Dickens

With this being the time of year for the story, A Christmas Carol, it's a great opportunity to learn about its author,Charles Dickens. One of the most famous writers of all times,Dickens also wrote Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield and more. 

Today, a person who is very tight with money, is often called a scrooge, after, the main character in A Christmas Carol. Did you know that several other words and phrases were coined by Charles Dickens?
 
Words such as abuzz, flummox, the creeps,round the clock and whiz-bang are credited with Dickens. Other words that Dickens helped to popularize include, kibosh, butter-fingers,boredom,messiness,squashed,bah humbug,and tousled. 
 
Interesting Facts about Charles Dickens:
1. In addition to a canary(named Dick), dogs(including Mrs. Bouncer), Charles Dickens had two pet ravens. Both were named Grip. The first was stuffed and now resides in the Philadelphia Free Library. 
2. A paw of a Dickens’ cat, Bob, became a letter opener after it died. You can see the letter opener on display at the New York Public Library. 
3.Someone said that if you counted all the words which Dickens used in his writing, it was an amazing 4.6 million different words! 
4. Charles Dickens may have had epilepsy. He also may have had obsessive-compulsive behavior making him comb his hair hundreds of times a day or to touch something several times for good luck.
5. Phrases including “Merry Christmas!” and “Bah! Humbug” became popular after reading Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
6. Did you know that Charles Dickens created 989 characters for his books?
7. Hans Christian Andersen was a good friend of Dickens. Interestingly, after 5 weeks of being a guest of Dickens’ home, Andersen was encouraged to leave when Dickens wrote on the mirror in Andersen’s room, “Hans Andersen slept in this room for five weeks, which seemed to the family like AGES”.
8. A “new”treat called the lollypop was featured in several of Dickens’ books.
 
Activities
1. Illustrate a quote of Charles Dickens and write a brief paragraph explaining what you think the quote is saying:
A. “The pain of parting is nothing to the joy of meeting again.” 
B. “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” C. “Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” 
D. “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.” 
E. “There is always something for which to be thankful.” 
2.  Would you have enjoyed reading an installment book, popular during the time of Charles Dickens? Why, why not?
3. Dickens got lots of his ideas for his characters from people he met in his life. Who might be 3 people you'd use in a story that you have met? Why would you use these people in your story?

Resources of Interest:
1. My webquest on Charles Dickens includes 9 fun/informative questions to learn about Dickens. Additional activities/links,too.
 
2. In addition to a webquest, I have a Ms. Bie Ografee Reader’s Theater Script on Charles Dickens. Great for this time of year!