Saturday, May 23, 2015

Hats off to Jon Klassen! Inferring, Questioning, Writing Dialogue

Hats off to Jon Klassen for creating two amazing books! I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat look simple at first glance, but they are packed with possibilities for helping your kiddos infer, question, study details in illustrations and even write dialogue. 
What? My kids writing dialogue?
Yes, your kids can write dialogue.

Let's start with This Is Not My Hat, a 2012 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor book
The bear’s hat is gone, and he wants it back. Patiently and politely, he asks the animals he comes across, one by one, whether they have seen it. Each animal says no, some more elaborately than others. But just as the bear begins to despond, a deer comes by and asks a simple question that sparks the bear’s memory and renews his search with a vengeance. Told completely in dialogue, this delicious take on the classic repetitive tale plays out in sly illustrations laced with visual humor-- and winks at the reader with a wry irreverence that will have kids of all ages thrilled to be in on the joke. (Summary from Candlewick Press.)

Day One: The Text
The first day we look at this book we focused on the text. Notice how the colors change depending on which character is speaking? My kids also realized that the text matches the color of the speaking character...until you get to the rabbit. They decided the rabbit's words are red because he is wearing the red hat.

When I read the book aloud, I sped up during the "confessions." Hmmm...we wondered if we've ever sounded like this when we were guilty!

We talked about why some of the text is in all capital letters. We decided as writers, we also could write in all caps sometimes when we wanted to show a strong emotion. Scroll down to see a child put this into action.

Day Two: Inferring and Making Connections
On the second day we read this book, we paused on the spread where the bear finds the rabbit and his hat. We wondered what each character was thinking and recorded ideas on this chart. 

Next we recorded some of the ideas side by side on a chart.

Writing Lesson
Here's the follow-up writing lesson. Each child drew two characters of his choice on a folded sheet of paper. We wondered what other animals or people might look at each other the way the rabbit and bear did in the book. What would they think in their heads or say out loud to each other? After drawing, each child shared with a partner what the conversation would sound like between the two characters on his page. 

Finally, I helped each child pick a different color of marker to represent each of his characters. You're going to love this child's writing! Notice his use of capital letters and punctuation. There's some humor here, as well, because the kids all know about my intense fear of the pet snake in our building.

Snake: I'm hungry. I want to eat you.
Mrs. G: aaaaaAAAAhhhhh! Wait. I'm so old. I don't think I'll be a tender snack.
Snake: OK. But I'm not making any promises.

 Next up, This Is Not My Hat, a 2013 Caldecott winner. 

When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened. . . . Visual humor swims to the fore as the best-selling Jon Klassen follows his breakout debut with another deadpan-funny tale. 
(Summary from Candlewick Press.)

I read this book aloud slowly and with suspense. There was an audible gasp from the kids when we got to these pages and they realized...the big fish ate the little fish. Awesome!

We revisted this book for several days. One day involved discussions about which characters did something wrong. And how about that crab? Maybe he didn't mean to not keep his word. Maybe he was intimidated by the big fish, they offered. 

One day we made a chart comparing the story in the pictures with the story in the words. What an a-ha moment when they realized it was a book of opposites. What the little fish thinks on every page is the opposite of what really happens.

My kids have really developed a skill for looking at the illustrations to justify their thinking. For example, they thought the little fish was going slowly because there were only a few bubbles, but that the big fish was swimming quickly because there were more bubbles. How did the big fish know where the little fish went? The bubbles from the little fish go up. Check out the eyes on the big fish. Slanted eyes from a predator are never a good sign!

Finally, why are there no more words after the seaweed page? Because the character telling the story is....GONE!

I hope your kids get as much out of these two books as mine did. Happy reading!

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