Friday, October 17, 2008

Don't Shoot from the might backfire

Don’t shoot from the hip…it might backfire- or at least not be appreciated for the genius bit of writing that it is.

Reading aloud can be a powerful tool towards increasing the literacy of our students. Publishers try to help us by providing a reading interest level to guide us in our choices. However, one needs to be conscious of the fact that a book that is promoted interest level K-3, may not, in fact, be a good idea to read to kindergarten. They really work better with older students. If you have ever read Amelia Bedelia books to young students, you know exactly what I mean. I call these books: Don’t-shoot-from-the-hip-because-it-might-backfire books.

For example, one of my favorites is Tadpole’s Promise by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross. It’s a love story about a caterpillar and tadpole who fall in love and promise to never change. That’s what these creatures do. They are all about change. The tadpole changes faster than the caterpillar. He is her “shiny black pearl” and she is “his beautiful rainbow.” When he breaks his promise the third time, she goes away angry and cries herself to sleep. Time passes and she has transformed into a beautiful butterfly. She has also lost her anger and decides to forgive him. She flies down to where the lily pad meets the water where a little green frog sits. “Have you seen my shiny black… But before she can finish her sentence, the frog leaps up and eats her- in one great gulp. And there he sits thinking fondly of his beautiful rainbow and wondering where she went. The end.”

Sometimes when I read this with adults, even they are taken aback. If you share this with your high school students, they will see the power of writing. They appreciate the surprise ending. It breaks the ice in a new class because people want to talk about it. If you read these to kindergarten, you may have to get out the box of tissues and spend the rest of the morning consoling little souls. So use the following books as a starter list of books that may be recommended by the publisher for K-3, but they will be better appreciated by grades 3-12.

Tadpole’s Promise by Jeanne Willis
Where Willy Went by Nicholas Allan
Whatever by William Bee
Beware the Frog by William Bee
Princess Justina by Ellen Dee Davidson
The Library Dragon by Carmen Deedy
Martina the Beautiful Cockroach by Carmen Deedy


Esme Raji Codell said...

This book cracks me up! I like to pair it with BEWARE THE FROG, too.

Really nice blog! Well done. I look forward to return visits...

DaNae said...

I have been reading this book all week, Valentine's week, to 5th graders. As a cautionary tale of romance.