I was not expecting a small group of kindergarteners today so I was dashing about to get the perfect K books ready for their visit. I have great love in my heart for 5 /6 not yet in 1st graders. This is the time when their senses of humor, and their capacity to play with language is at the ready like no other time in their young lives. I say this not as an expert or an academic or a teacher. I say this as a public librarian. I have these children so briefly, knowing full well I may never see them again, yet I feel missionary in my desire to engage them and offer a way in to books and language. My job is to act as a turnstile. Here is what I shared with them:
No, David (I do a visual reading with them asking them questions on each page like, What do you think just happened? What do you see that makes you say that? By the end of the book, we are totally hooked, lined, and sinkered into Davy's fate. I have to say that one of the kids was so stuck on the nose picking page that he told us all that after the hug David was going to pick his nose. He then told me he picked his nose and I assured him that everyone did and that he was the only brave soul to admit to it. There were several adults in the room, but I never make eye contact with them because they insist on sitting way in the back out of my realm of vision so if any adult was embarassed, I didn't know it. I read Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus which is such a primo opportunity to talk about speech and thought bubbles. I personally love the "I have dreams ya know" and before you know it they're learning about point of view and perspective and reader response criticism all before 12 noon! You sneaky pete Mo! And to the incomparable David Catrow, haven't you won anything yet other than the hearts of children everywhere? I Ain't gonna Paint No More! written by Karen Beaumont is a perfect Kindergarten book for so many reasons. Here is their opportunity to say BUTT and it's OK because the book made them do it and it rhymes with nut. If you are a color fiend like moi then you can wax poetic about the balance of black and white and the subversiveness of color evidenced by its chaotic kudzu-like spread across the pages which even a bathtub can not expunge. I have to put in a plug for another book illustrated by Catrow and written by Patty Lovell, Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon. I have used this book with 1st and 2nd graders b/c they have the experience of being new to school and have a sense of what it feels like since it's still fresh. Molly Lou Melon is tiny and she has buck teeth and she sounds like " a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor" but her grandma always told her to stand tall and that's just what she does throughout. I tell the students that I wish I had had this book when I was starting a new school in a new country when I was in 1st grade. This is a tribute to grandmothers wherever you are!! The last thing I did with my kindergarteners who at this point feel like my own family was to share a flannel board song. My colleague SR made the felt pieces. The pattern and the CD with song is on one of our favorite books for preschoolers Ready-to-Go Storytimes by Gail Benton and Trisha Waichulaitis. The song is "Flip-Flap Jack" and it's about a man made of food--all Breakfast foods like French toast feet and a raspberry belly-button and link sausage smile. There is a refrain and the kids get to name the foods along with the CD playing and clap and slap their knees. They made me do it twice!