Thursday, April 26, 2007

Here's Why I Love My Job

Today was Let Your Child Skip School Day Take Your Child to Work Day. Instead of 25 students, I had 12. It was the perfect day to share the book Once Upon a Banana, by Jennifer Armstrong (illustrations by David Small).

In this wordless (except for street signs) picture book, a monkey escapes from a street performer, steals a banana from a grocer's outdoor display, drops the peel on the sidewalk, and, well, you probably know the rest. One thing leads to another and then another.

We had great discussions from the very beginning. The monkey escapes in the end papers, the banana is stolen on the title page spread, and the monkey scampers away from the street performer while he is detained by the angry grocer on the copyright page spread. "It's like an...introduction," I said. "No, a PROLOGUE," corrected one of the students.

As we read on, they made inferences based on facial expressions and body language, made predictions, and used the terms "cause and effect" and "point of view." Then, right when the judge who accidentally stepped on the skateboard runs into the lady with the baby carriage, my Firecracker who was tipping in his chair fell, knocking his desk over, and dumping its contents on his head.

They thought it was hilarious (and no one more than Firecracker himself, who was not injured in the least) that this had all happened at the moment in the book when there's the most chaos.

And then someone brought up the time when I was reading BLOOD ON THE RIVER and the character Samuel punched the character Richard in the mouth and Richard lost a tooth. At that very moment, one of my students lost a tooth. At the time, we went, "Ooooh, ahhhh," because it was like I made my student's tooth fall out. But now it happened again.

"It's just like in INKHEART!" one of my super girl readers said.

"Yeah!" said another. "You're like Mo!" (That might be enough to help me make it to the end of the year!!)

After we explained to the rest of the class about Mo being able to read book characters to life, one of the boys commented that I better not read aloud any books with guns and killing.

"But I already have," I replied. (BLOOD ON THE RIVER currently and DANGER ALONG THE OHIO last year) "I must only be able to read into life things that could happen in a classroom."

"Read a story about cookies!" tooth-loss boy cried out.

"Read a book about Christmas!" begged another.


  1. That's actually pretty cool that half of your class was gone today. At my daughter's school, it was really only a handful. My 2nd grader was the only one in her class. My 5th grader was one of maybe four to take off.

    I like the concept overall, and both of my girls have had a good time the last couple of years.

    Congrats on the Mo compliment. I can only wait for that day, alas.

  2. Do you often have a pre-read aloud book talk around the end papers? Seems like a neat idea... we're obsessed, in my class, with end papers since we've been doing the picture book study. However, I often don't say much more than some kind of noticing I have about the end papers. Seems like a great pre-reading strategy... do you do this regularly? Please let me know. Thanks Mary Lee!

  3. MR -- I think you're waiting for a DIFFERENT Mo compliment than the one I got!

    NYCT -- We examine EVERYTHING about a book before starting read aloud -- cover, blurb on the back, dedication, end papers. That's what I do when I pick up a book, so that's what WE do when we pick up a book!

  4. This is a wonderful post! What a great story teller you are and how exciting your class sounds! It's so cool that your students get the power of story and have such clever comments.

  5. I'm so glad you had fun with the Banana -- I've shared it with lots of classes now and it never goes ... quietly. :)


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