Children’s Questions and a Serenade

I finished reading aloud the chapter book, The Story of Doctor Dolittle.  This is a favorite book with children, and I discourage watching the movie which makes silliness out of an excellent story.

The animals are the characters, each with an engaging personality.  Doctor Dolittle is the essence of kindness and understanding.  The adventures he and the animals encounter are thrilling, from monkeys and a king in Africa, to pirates and kidnapping on the high seas.  I read this book aloud to children every year.  It never grows old.

At the end of the story, Doctor Dolittle is serenaded each night under his window. Children asked, “What is a serenade?”  Every “What is…” question is my opportunity, and I grab that brass ring.  As much as I explained a serenade, I was not able to make that word come to life…

Until a few days later.  I was out to dinner with my husband at a favorite Mexican restaurant.  Two people strolled over to the table next to us, a man with a guitar and a woman with a microphone.  They began to serenade the couple who were having a celebration.

Sernade!  I whipped out my cell phone.

“What are you doing?”, asked my husband.  He was not wearing a happy face.

“I have to video this for the children.”

“Have you lost your mind?”

“No.  I have to show the children what a serenade is.  Doctor Dolittle was serenaded and they didn’t understand.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’ll explain later.”

I was able to get a short video to show the children.  They loved it!  Now they understand ‘serenade’.

After the song, the musicians broke into “Cielito Lindo.”  We knew the song and sang along.  I swayed, even though my husband gave me a disapproving look. The Spanish words sound so beautiful.  Why weren’t we taught to sing the song in Spanish when we were young?

A quick shopping trip followed dinner.  Can you guess what song was playing over the store’s intercom?  Yup, “Cielito Lindo.”


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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80 Responses to Children’s Questions and a Serenade

  1. Ritu says:

    Look at you with your teacher brain on constantly!

  2. ksbeth says:

    one of my favorite books, my teacher read it aloud to us and she had so much fun with it that we did too. you know exactly how that is. and love that you captured the video of that fun moment to share )

  3. Opher says:

    All grist to the mill! Life provides the lesson!

  4. Luanne says:

    Have we chatted before about the appalling racism I learned was in one of the Dr Doolittle books? Have you read the other books?

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, we have. I also like the longer book with Long Arrow, but it is too difficult for preschoolers. I use those racist moments as a teaching tool. In the Little House series which I just started reading aloud to the children, Ma says something like, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” I stop, act shocked, and begin a conversation. Thanks, Luanne!

  5. Darlene says:

    Our poor, long-suffering husbands. My hubby hates being the centre of attention so he would have acted the same. It has seldom stopped me though. He gets very uncomfortable when I ask other diners if I can photograph their meals. LOL A great example to show the children!

  6. Dan Antion says:

    Quick thinking and an odd coincidence = great story!

  7. What a great way to demonstrate “serenading” with this video. The kids won’t forget it now.

  8. Ah, you have forgotten Lady and the Tramp, Jennie, when the doggie couple are serenaded over dinner. I love Dr Dolittle, one of my favourite books.

  9. The Hook says:

    Thank you for being one of the good ones, young lady.
    And by “one of the good ones” I mean a human being as well as an educator.

  10. Another wonderful lesson for adults and children. Wonderful!!! Always something to learn.

  11. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, what a wonderful teacher you are!

  12. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Jennie is an excellent teacher, and here is another lesson from her!

  13. Yesss!!!
    And…you could add troubadours to the list of serenading musicians! Lots of Medieval & Renaissance music was troubadour wooing music and then there’s Irish serenades via Turlough O’Carolan the harpist back in the day…
    What I like is that your Mexican mariachi serenade adds the visual element of ‘diversity’ to your teaching, too. Which is part of the overall theme in Dr. Doolittle too, right?

    • Jennie says:

      Yes, I would have grabbed the phone to record any serenade. I felt lucky to happen to be in the moment. And to think it added diversity to teaching, in keeping with Doctor Dolittle, too! 😀

  14. Having been married to a teacher, for twenty-nine years, prior to her passing, and being a teacher myself, I can say we left no opportunity to impart knowledge unturned. Brava to you, for illustrating “serenade”!

  15. What a wonderful way to teach children another language and also a great new addition to their musical training. Excellent! Whoo hooo!!!

  16. I love “Cielito Lindo”. We learned to sing it in school – sadly not in Spanish.

  17. This is what my husband does in his spare time…he is a trio musician of Mexican music…Don’t think I don’t know how lucky I and my cats are to listen to rehearsals!

    • Jennie says:

      How wonderful! He may never know the lives he has touched or the ripple effect he had on others in the restaurant. And you get to listen to his rehearsals!!

  18. ren says:

    How wonderfully wonderful and oh so perfect….of course. (wink, grin and a nod)

  19. reocochran says:

    Serendipitous occasion to create a “teachable moment” which is built upon a true happening, Jennie Fitzgee! 🎸🎈🎉🎶

  20. beetleypete says:

    That’s a great children’s book indeed. And now they know what a serenade is too. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

  21. dgkaye says:

    Best way to teach Jennie – by example. 😉

  22. jilldennison says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again … you are one AWESOME teacher! Your day doesn’t stop when the bell rings at 3:00, but you are never actually “off-duty”. Thank you! By the way … how did “I Want to Hold Your Hand” go?

  23. delphini510 says:

    Beautiful way to engage and teach and I have a feeling you enjoyed it too. 😊


  24. abbiosbiston says:

    I am married to someone who makes me film him falling off his skateboard amongst other things so I get a way with filming/photographing whatever I want. Hahahahaha!

  25. books project much better on the screen of the mind.

  26. It had to be a lovely journey for your own heart, Jennie.❤

  27. Annika Perry says:

    No better example of showing instead of telling than this video! 😀 I bet the children loved it … and I can imagine your husband’s bemused look!

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  29. Sarah says:

    I love how you’re constantly drawing inspiration for your teaching, Jennie! It’s not easy explaining certain words and things but you do it wonderfully! Bravo! 😄

    • Jennie says:

      I think having ‘teacher radar’ 24/7 is important. Otherwise, how would those impromptu moments transition to teaching in the classroom? Thank you, Sarah!

  30. Fantastic. Oh yes you got the “teacher radar” 24/7. Its wonderful to read about your ideas and realisation. Michael

  31. srbottch says:

    Wonderful and so funny. I can just see your husband. My wife would have frowned, as well, and maybe abandoned me on the spot 🙀. Good job, Jennie.

  32. srbottch says:

    By the way, how were the tacos?

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