A little book can do big things.
Way back in September, I picked up Odd, Weird and Little by Patrick Jennings (EgmontUSA, 2014) on impulse since I enjoy the author’s work. Once I got it home, I realized that it might be a bit too elementary for my readers and considered sending it over to my colleague at the elementary school. Then I read it. Not only did I think that it would be enjoyed by some of my students, I thought it would make a fun read aloud for a small, self-contained class of students with learning challenges.
I read the first chapter to them when they came to library one afternoon last fall. They (and their [absolutely amazing] teacher) were tickled and asked to bring the book back to their classroom to finish. It took them a while to get through the book. I thought that maybe it got lost in the shuffle of a busy school year, but it turns out that Ms. A. was really reading deeply with them. In fact, you might say they were immersed in this odd, weird and little book.
She gathered stuffed animals and objects to represent the characters and to recreate scenes.
She had her students make and write predictions. They also made character connections.
They asked a social studies teacher, who is also an artist, to draw Woody for them.
Working as a team, they created an alphabet based on the book. Then, they searched for images to highlight their alphabetical connections and put them in a slide show.
I had the good fortune to sit in on their final presentation. It was utterly delightful. All the students clearly enjoyed their work; had great affection for the story and comfortably presented their part of the presentation.
This clearly is not a case of a teacher "teaching" a book to death, but making one come alive for her struggling students. Every day, she sets the bar high and coaxes and cajoles the best from them.
They are now reading and enjoying Mr. Jennings’ next book, Hissy Fitz.
I can't wait to hear what they think.