-posted by Ruth
Ever had the experience where you enter into the story you are reading so completely that you feel you are in the book? It’s a mark of a deep reading connection, and one to be treasured. We often hear small children claiming to be the characters in their favorite picture books. For example, Nori, one of my young friends at Head Start whose first language is Mien, corrected me one day when I greeted her with, “Good morning, Nori!”
“No, I’m Sleeping Beauty.” And so she remained for the rest of the week, until she decided she was Nori again.
Many of Nori’s friends were so taken with the book character Peter when I read them The Snowy Day that their play with the book continued after they drew and talked about it (See Celebrating The Snowy Day). They wanted to “be” Peter and experience his snowy day with him. Teacher Kelly and the classroom aide, Linda, created a simple and popular center with a pencil container filled with red Peter-shaped cut-outs taped to Popsicle sticks, several small cut-outs of felt snow with blue snowprint marks, and of course the book itself. When I saw the joy the children were having “being in the book”with Peter, I know I wanted to help the almost three-year-old twins have the same fun at home.
It’s easy to create this simple opportunity to get interactive with the book. Like the Head Start teachers, I cut out red Peter shapes–some with his arms spread out wide, making a snow angel, others as if he was sliding down a hill, or trudging through the snow. It’s a snap to just trace them from the figures in the book, cut them out, and tape them to craft sticks ( I used tongue depressors). To make them longer lasting, I used clear packing tape to firmly attach them to the sticks. For the various felt patches of “snow,” I just rounded the corners of a couple of squares of white felt then made “footprints” and “stickprints”in the snow with a blue Sharpie. For variation, I cut out a shape of a snow angel that the Peter puppet could pretend to make.
You can see by the pictures that Molly and Jacob really got into the play–and into the character and experiences in the book. It’s a great beginning for young readers to make friends with the books in their lives, enjoying the world of their stories from the inside out.