Saturday, February 6, 2010

Beautiful Language All Around!

Where Is Catkin?It is a treat to my ears and to my voice when I find books that captures language in a fun, playful way. They make you want to read aloud those books over and over. A while ago I wrote a post on Cathy MacLennan and her great work as a writer. Her books encourage children to listen to language carefully, to manipulate and play with it. The following new books fit under that category as well.

Where is Catkin? by Janet Lord is the story of a little cat named Catkin who jumps off Amy's lap to go after...

a cricket
a frog
a mouse
a snake
a bird

...until landing back in Amy's arms where Catkin belongs. Janet Lord keeps a predictable structure for each page by providing clues of the animals that Catkin hunts. The use of onomatopoeia throughout the book gives it a perfect touch and keeps the audience engaged.

Higgledy-Piggledy Chicks

Higgledy-Piggledy Chicks by Barbara Joosse. Oh the first page of this book catches my attention immediately...

Here's the barnyard
in the deep, dark night-
everything in its place, waiting.

So what are we going to find in this quiet barnyard? Well, Benty Hen along with the Aunties live in this barn. Benty Hen has seven perfect eggs, and when those 7 eggs hatched, the adventures in the barnyard begins. The seven little chicks scoot higgledy-piggledy all around the barn, curiously and playfully.
The author Barbara Joosse, just like Janet Lord, uses repetitions, and sound words to spice up her story. The repeating line: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven invites children to count along each time. And look at how she uses language with sound words to create a vivid picture:

What's out there? What's that? Zzzzip. She scoots away. Then, zzzzip... zzzzip...zzzzip...zzzzip...zzzip! Seven fuzzy chicks higgledy-piggledy. Mama clucks. Kuk! Come when I call. Kaak! watch out for danger.

Even without looking at the illustration, you can clearly picture this scene because of the amount of vivid details she uses.

As an ESL teacher, I am looking for so many different things before I share a story with my English language learners. Obviously, I look for stories with great story line and illustrations that support the story. But I also pay attention at how language is being used in the story. My dear ELLs need repetition, vivid details, sensory details because all those things will enhance their comprehension as they listen to a story in a foreign language. Please don't misunderstand me, I still read all the great stories available even if they don't include repetitions or sound words. What I AM saying is that as a language teacher, I need to be very intentional with the books I read aloud so that I can make the most out of my ELLs language learning experiences.

Reading as readers, reading as writers, and reading as language watchers...look at some of the many ways we read books depending on the purpose/goal. Either way, let's surround our students with the best literature, they deserve that much. Enjoy the journey and Happy reading time.

1 comment:

katied said...

Ooo! I am intrigued by Where is CAtkin? I will be checking it out !