Monday, October 22, 2012

Having Fun with Common Core: Fun Formats for Reading Buddies

Today, we’ll look at some of the many wonderful books created by Steve Jenkins, often with his wife Robin Page. Many of Jenkins’s books feature a spare main text that is masterfully illustrated with paper collage art and enhanced by an extensive backmatter full of fascinating facts. Because Jenkins writes the text, creates the art, and conceptualizes the design himself from the beginning of the project, the result is books with fun, creative, distinctive formats.

As Reading Buddies work their way through Jenkins’ books, the younger child can read the main text. Then the buddies can flip to the back of the book, and the older child can read the relevant section of backmatter.

Here are some possible pairings for your consideration (All are published by Houghton Mifflin.):

 What Would You Do with a Tail Like This? and How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly?
The Caldecott Honor recipient What Would You Do with a Tail Like This? has a wonderful guessing game format in which one double-page spread asks a question and shows intriguing bits of animal bodies and the next double-page spread answers the question and reveals the entire bodies of the animals. Over the course of the book, readers learn how a variety of animals use their noses, ears, tails, eyes, mouth, and feet.
How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly? has a similar format, but it focuses on the different ways in which a diverse assortment of creatures performs a particular activity. Jenkins and Page use this structure to examine techniques for catching a fish, hatching eggs, digging holes, and more.

These books are wonderful for provoking discussion of animal adaptations. After students read What Would You Do with a Tail Like This? and feel comfortable with the format, you can ask them to make predictions about how particular animals will accomplish the various tasks presented as they read How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly?.

 Actual Size and Prehistoric Actual Size
This clever pair of books invites young readers to see how they measure up against a variety of different animals—some living, some extinct. Depending on the scale of the creatures being described, some of the colorful collages display the entire animal at actual scale while others can only feature what fits on the page—an elephant foot, a giant squid eye, a gorilla hand, the head of an ancient flying reptile, and even the complete body of a small dinosaur on a series of foldout pages. The presentation style introduces children to the glorious diversity of our natural world and illustrates the importance of comparison, measurement, observation, and record keeping in a truly engaging way.

After reading the books, buddies can measure and compare their own body parts and record their findings in a table. Before the students return to their separate classrooms, there can be time for whole-group sharing. There’s no doubt about it, these books inspire fun ways of satisfying, CCSS for ELA: Reading Informational Text #1 and #2.

1 comment:

  1. these are awesome books, both for their content and their art.