Monday, November 17, 2014

Slice of Life - A Unique Read Aloud

Slice of Life is sponsored on Tuesdays by Two Writing Teachers.

As I mentioned a few posts back, I am in the middle of a Mock Caldecott unit. Margie Myers-Culver and I selected 25 books. For the next 25 days, I share a book a day with my students. We discuss the story elements, illustrations, and critique it. The students record their thoughts in their own notes and on a Padlet. It has been a fabulous first week and I know it will be an enjoyable unit.

When Margie and I pick books, there are some she suggests and some I suggest. Two of our last entries were Draw and The Baby Tree. Both were on the New York Times Best 10 Best Illustrated list. When the list came out, I realized we had zero of the books on our list. After reading Travis Jonker’s post (HERE), I asked Margie what she thought about Draw and The Baby Tree, both of which Travis mentioned as the most likely to nab a Caldecott from the list. Margie said both were beautiful, so they were added to our list.

Draw I shared with my students last week. Amazing book and they loved it. The Baby Tree arrived in the mail this weekend. I read it and paused. The premise of the book is a little boy who wants to know where babies come from. He asks many people, with each answer confusing him more and more. Finally, his parents give him a brief, but correct, answer:

"They begin with a seed from their dad which gets planted in an egg inside their mom."

Oh boy.

My mind reeled with what the reaction could possibly be from fifth graders. If I were teaching kindergarten, this would be a no brainer. It would be enough to possibly make some students want to start a conversation with their family, but wouldn’t be a big deal.

Fifth graders? 

Hmm. I debated. I thought of skipping the book. I thought of skipping that page. But then, I paused. I have students reading The Hunger Games. If they can read about kids killing kids, but this would be upsetting, then we have bigger problems.

So, I shared it today. I began with the book trailer. I told the kids to think back to when they were in kindergarten. We talked about what five year olds are like. I shared my experiences teaching them. And then, I shared the book.

You know what? They rocked. The book rocked. They giggled; they cried out for the glorious thing we call rest time (the boy has rest time on a page in the book), they reminisced. It was magical.

They recorded their thoughts on the Padlet below.

It could have been embarrassing. It could have been awkward. It could have led down a path that I didn’t want to go.

But it wasn’t.

It showed me once again what an awesome group these kids are. How insightful, curious, and passionate they are about learning. How they “get” the job of looking at a book critically.

It was a cool lesson, an amazing day. And, best of all, it made me smile.