Wednesday, November 24, 2010

We Are in a Book!

On Thanksgiving eve, I wanted to post about one of the things that I am most thankful for...teachers like Mrs. Dunn, Mrs. Wilson, and Mrs. Selario that made me the reader I am today. That is not to say that I always had my nose in a book as a child, but I always felt connecting to Mo Willems beloved newest Elephant and Piggie book seemed a great choice to appreciate the love of all things books!

In their latest adventure, Gerald (the elephant) and Piggie are biding time when Gerald realizes they have an audience. Piggie introduces Gerald to "the reader." They come to the realization they are in a book and they are being read. With the realization the book is drawing to a close, Gerald panics, then pleads the reader to read the story again. For fans of Elephant and Piggie it's a fabulous addition to the series.
For early readers it is fabulous to work on concepts of print - it discusses how characters "speak" to the audience, bubbles show speech, punctuation (! ? ...) we read from left to right, front to back. With it's plethora of high frequency words, it encourages participation from early readers.
As writers, it also provides plenty to discuss. These characters demonstrate voice consistently - through small and large font, all capitals, repetition, italics and facial expressions. For young writers, this is often a very difficult concept to provide instruction on and often difficult for children to convey in their writing. The dynamic between the two characters provides a fabulous guide for including voice and expression in writing.

There are a few stopping points in the text that are opportunities to predict. The best opportunity is near the end, when Piggie has a suggestions for how Gerald can be read and the story can go on. After taking and discussing predictions, then reading the end of the book, it's a great way to discuss how readers read stories multiple times with a different purpose. Another opportunity is in the middle of the text Piggie says he can make a reader say anything if they read aloud - this provides a great discussion point about how authors choose their words carefully, and readers could predict, knowing Mo Willems, why he choose the word Banana for the word Piggie has the reader say.

I always enjoy the dialogue between the two characters - a great way to get your students writing conversations is to remove the words from the bubbles and have the children write their own stories using the same facial expressions - providing a few pictures in a sequence, students can use the illustrations to support their writing as the two characters interact.

Elephant and Piggie often speak to each other, including the reader in their conversation in this text is a new twist. As readers, this allows for a reaction addressed to the characters. As the book closes, Elephant and Piggie hope the reader will return to the book. Readers can then respond to the characters about their plea, letting them know if they were persuasive enough or providing suggestions to persuade them further.
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