Today I was greeted by a first grader who had just visited his school Book Fair. He was gripping his new Predators (Smart Kids) book by Priddy. Just the cover told me that kids would love this book–its scared me! But, when I opened it up, each page had several facts about an animal including a cheetah, grizzly bear, tiger, or piranha to name a few. A chart on each animal page compared the size of the animal to a man, rated how vicious and deadly it was by the number of skulls (5 was the worst), and told how fast it could move.
We read the page, discussed the chart including such facts that a cheetah can accelerate to 60 mph in 3 seconds. Then I closed the book since one of my goals with this child is to build comprehension skills based on the text, with diminishing visual aids. Finally, we began a conversation about the animal and added a foam shape each time we added to the conversation appropriately. I offered my friend the option of starting or I could start the conversation with a comment about what we found interesting or a question. After we read a few of the animals, we had more to talk about as we could compare sizes, how fast they were or where they stood on the continuum of viciousness.
I was so proud of my little friend when I asked him how the wolf was like a cheetah. He said, “If he’s alone he eats rabbits and birds but if he’s a pack, there’s a group of wolves, they could bring down big animals.”