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Archive for January, 2010

I’ve been teaching kindergarten a while. Okay, a long while.

All right, all right. I’m currently teaching kids of kindergartners I had twenty+ years ago. For the sake of clarity, let’s just say I’ve been around the block multiple times.

And as a teacher of squirmy five-year olds, I search for books that capture their interest and hold them still–for five minutes or longer!–and count my blessings when I succeed. With a few, I’m lucky enough to get comments like, “That was a good book.”

Followed by a little sigh of pleasure.

Books that fall into this category I re-read every year to share the joy.

I’m going to be reviewing a few of these regularly in the hopes that you can use them either in the classroom or as a read-aloud to your own little ones.

Yesterday, I brought out a book I’ve read the past fifteen years. A little early–I usually read this in March about the time we write our own four-page stories that I type up and print out for illustrations. But I grabbed it from my closet anyway. It’s definitely worth a re-read.

The Fat CatThe Fat Cat: A Danish Folktale by Jack Kent has cuteĀ  illustrations with the cat’s belly growing by leaps and bounds as he eats everyone he encounters. My kids’ interest sharpen the second I mention that he eats the pot of gruel and the pot. After only a few pages of rhythmic and rhyming text, they chime in on the cat’s answer–“and now I am going to also eat YOU!”

The ending is reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood’s adventure and satisfies any blood-thirsty tendencies–with all the drama off-stage and no actual deaths.

This year, for the very first time, we changed the tale and acted it out. Instead of a cat, the class wanted the main character to be a dog. Instead of encountering people and birds to eat, she ate penguins and porcupines and pigs, and instead of a woodcutter for the rescue, we had a vet. The child playing the dog clapped her hands as she ate the animals, and the children playing animals collapsed, curling into small balls as she did so.

Much fun was had by all.

I purchased a paperback version of the book in Scholastic a couple years back. Sadly, they only seem to carry it in a leveled reader collection at the moment, while Amazon only links to used copies of the book for sale. Still, it’s worth the search–my kids were captivated; yours will be, too.

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