My students took a look at figurative language in their independent reading books today (although they really still wanted to talk about who stole the school mascot in that five minute mystery we worked on last Friday). Simile, metaphor, and personification should be a review for them-- they're on the state standards for earlier grades-- so my assignment was for them to pull an example from their books and then come up with a theory about why the author chose to use that particular comparison, taking into account the context and their knowledge of the plot and characters.
Yeah. That was a stretch. Despite the examples I gave them in my introduction to this task, their critical thinking skills were put to the test. Many wrote that the author chose that particular image "to describe what was going on better." A broth that tasted like springtime itself had no greater meaning to them, despite the recent reawakening of the character's desire to fight for life.
It's okay. I know this is higher level stuff, and we'll talk about how authors deliberately choose images again. For now I'm content to plant the seed.