Monday, November 21, 2011

Picture Books!

Week 12

We're celebrating picture books all month, and this week students read some classics in their library classes.

During story time, we activate our prior knowledge to give context to the story. What do we notice about the cover? What can we guess about the story? What do we already know about the topic?

As we read, we tap our temples when we think of a connection between the story and ourselves. If we have a question, we raise our hands.

After the story, we ask questions, talk about the characters' actions, and decide what we liked about the story. (We almost always like the story, but WHY do we like it?)

PreK 3 and PreK 4

Quick as a Cricket, by Audrey Wood, illustrated by Don Wood
A young child (girl or boy?) describes a full range of feelings using similes: she's quick as a cricket, mean as a shark, small as an ant...and comes to the conclusion that all of these feelings combine to make her who she is. It's an affirming message for youngsters. We read this twice, talking through the feelings the second time: have we felt small as an ant before? When? Have we felt as lazy as a lizard? When? 

This is a good read aloud for older students who are studying similes or learning about common expressions (such as "strong as an ox" and "busy as a bee").

The illustrations also make this an appealing read aloud: they are large with rich colors and show the child's expression and the matching animal in perfect harmony. For example, on the "Sad as a basset" page, child and droopy dog both look suitably gloomy.


Teeny Tiny, by Jill Bennett, illustrated by Tomie dePaola 

A "teeny tiny" woman takes a bone home to make a soup. But when she gets into bed, a haunting voice asks for it back. Yikes! 

A great story to show building tension and suspense, and also dramatic irony: we see the ghosts but the woman doesn't. It's also a funny story because everything is preceded by the adjectives "teeny tiny" so we develop a pattern throughout the story. Read in a "teeny tiny" voice and then an increasingly loud booming voice as we near the climax of the action. A big hit with kindergarteners!

There's a Nightmare in My Closet, written and illustrated by Mercer Mayer

Another classic dealing with fears, this story gives us a chance to talk about our nighttime worries and we admire the bravery of our main character. He invites his nightmare (a monster) out of the closet. We realize that the monster has been just as scares of the boy as he was of it! When the boy takes control of his fears, we imagine that we might be able to do the same.

Grade 1

Bread and Jam for Frances, by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban

One of my favorites of all time, this is the story of Frances, a picky eater with creative parents. She refuses to eat what everyone else in the family eats at mealtime, choosing bread and jam instead. After a couple of days of this, her mother employs some reverse psychology and only allows her to eat bread and jam. That certainly takes the fun out of the argument for Frances!

I love the little songs Frances sings to herself that reveal how she's feeling about her food choices, and I love the supporting characters. Her father is such a lovely fellow - so positive and sensible.  And the final scene, of Frances unpacking her lunch is one of my favorites in all of literature - it would make a great passage for looking at detail.

Grade 2

Dr. De Soto, by William Steig

The mouse dentist, Dr. De Soto, and his wife agree to help a fox with an aching tooth. They suspect he will try to eat them as soon as he feels better, however. They whisper together, forming a plan, and keep the reader in suspense and the fox a drooling mess.

Grade 3

Who Needs Donuts?, written and illustrated by Mark Alan Stamaty

More picture book brilliance! A young boy craves donuts and wants to collect as many as he can. He travels to "a big city" to find them and soon meets just the man to help: a fellow donut collector! Along the way, they meet an old woman who asks, "Who needs donuts when you've got love?" Great point! 

Through a series of bizarre events, both the man and the boy discover the wisdom of her question. But the powerful message is only part of this book's appeal. The highlight is the style of illustration: tightly detailed pictures we can get completely lost in. 

Grade 4 & 5: Book check-out and Reading time

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