Ronia, The Robber’s Daughter
by Astrid Lindgren
Our Summer Reading Resource series is coming to a close with our seventh and final installment, Astrid Lindgren’s Ronia, The Robber’s Daughter.
Originally written in Swedish, this a tale of adventure that shares themes with literary classics such as Romeo and Juliet and The Adventures of Robinhood. The story’s protagonist – Ronia – is, as the title states, the daughter of Matt, the fearsome leader of a band of robbers. Ronia is raised at her parents’ fort, the headquarters for Matt’s ring of bandits. Surrounding the fort is a vast, dense, and magical forest, which provides beautiful scenery and fodder for Ronia’s childhood adventures.
The major conflict within the story is centered around a friendship that Ronia develops with a boy named Birk, who is just about her age and is every bit as interested in exploring the forest as Ronia is herself…
The two form a tight bond and eventually regard each other as siblings, despite the fact that Birk’s father Borka is Ronia’s father’s sworn enemy. The feuding bands of robbers battle over the children’s friendship and the resulting ties that the children have created between the two groups, but Birk and Ronia eventually devise a brave and clever plan that succeeds in ending the generations-old feud and teaches everyone a very valuable lesson.
Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter is unique amongst upper-elementary adventure stories. Ronia’s strength as a young woman allows her to stand as a role model for young girls, and allows the book to stand out amongst the scores of adventure stories that feature boys as their main (and sometimes only) characters. Along with its value for young women, the story can help all students to broaden their understanding of what it means to be strong. As they read about Ronia’s adventures and bravery, they will perhaps begin to widen their image of a strong and fearless characters to lack gender. Students will also learn to think about what qualities make a strong person, and will be forced to consider the differences and similarities between those who possess physical strength and those who possess mental strength.
The accompanying literature guide is written for fourth grade students, as their experiences at that age are similar to those of Ronia. Nine- and ten-year-olds are generally just beginning to broaden their understanding of their physical surroundings, and can be very adventurous. Just as a child might love to explore and adventure in the woods, Ronia lives for her time in the magical forest. Upper elementary-aged students will identify with her habits and interests, and may perhaps see a bit of themselves in her.
Though the guide is written for use in a formal classroom setting, the activities and – in particular – the discussion questions could be very useful for expanding a family reading of the book. Along with lessons and exercises in finding context clues and understanding characters, the guide includes a rich list of questions to ponder for each chapter in the story. By discussing, theorizing, and predicting together, families can work through the story as a group.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Hilltown Families weekly Summer Reading Resource series shares downloadable guides of children’s literature from graduate students in the Integrated Learning teacher preparation program at Antioch University New England. Each literary guide pairs a featured book with suggestions for ways to help children expand their thinking, create connections to the text, and allow their literacy skills to grow. These guides contain outlines with discussion questions, art projects, outdoor adventures, and many other activities that are designed for use in classrooms but can very easily be adapted for use at home for supplemental education. Featured titles cover a wide variety of themes, lengths, and levels of difficulty – meaning there’s something for every family, and for every reader! Some are classics, some are lesser-known gems – but all of the books present potential for helping families build upon the stories that they read together. — Interested in featuring this series at your local library or school? Email Sienna at firstname.lastname@example.org.