I began reading aloud a new chapter reading book, Little House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. In thirty minutes, I had read only four pages. Four! There was so much happening in the story, we had to stop and talk. That always means learning. And a captive audience.
Let me back up, as there is much to tell about yesterday…
The day before, we finished reading The Story of Doctor Dolittle. At the end of the book I closed it and said, “I don’t want the book to end.” This is what happened next:
Ella said, “Can we read it again and again and again?”
Me: ” I wish we could, Ella. Your Mom and Dad can read it to you again.”
Ella: “But I don’t have the book.”
Me: “The library has the book. Mom and Dad can get it at the library and read it to you again.”
Me to all the children: “Good books are meant to be read over and over.”
Alex: “What book are we going to read next?”
Lincoln: “Can we read Charlotte’s Web again?
Allie: “Yes! Please can we read it again?”
Noah: “I love that book.”
This was a perfect conundrum. Children had to let go of a favorite book that was over. Then, they wanted to read another favorite book. Yet, they knew that wouldn’t happen- there would be a new book. Life lessons, at their best.
I went on to tell the children how much I loved Charlotte’s Web. Then I told them the news:
“Every chapter book we have read this year has been fiction. Fiction is pretend, “Once upon a time.” Jennie stories are fact, “It happened like this.” Our new chapter reading book is fact. It’s real. It happened.”
That opened the door to reading Little House in the Big Woods. The children were thrilled. Well, they were more than thrilled. It happened like this…
In the first pages, we read that there was nothing but woods. There were no roads, no people. There were only trees and wild animals. And, those animals were wolves, bears, and huge wild cats. A child asked what was a wild cat (wait till we read that there were panthers in Wisconsin!) Another child asked about roads. Just the concept of nothing but woods and animals is not easy for children to grasp. It became even more difficult in the next few pages.
The little house was made of logs. “What are logs?” I asked? Good thing that earlier that day I had read the picture book, A House in the Woods, by Inga Moore. Beavers had felled the trees to build the house. That image helped to describe a log house (wait till I show them pictures of my grandmother’s childhood house!)
Laura called her parents Ma and Pa. We stopped to talk about all the different parent names we knew- four in all.
Laura woke up one night to see wolves outside the window (that was exciting!) The next morning she saw deer that Pa had shot, hanging in the big oak tree outside. That would be meat for dinner. I closed the book and asked, “Why didn’t Pa just go to the store to buy some meat?” Ten minutes later we were still talking about how and where to get food. “What do you think they grew in their garden to eat?”
The conversation was filling young minds with images. The words in the story were triggering questions and thinking. Best of all, it is a really good book. Children are already hooked- and we’ve only read four pages!