Unlock 7 Techniques for Powerful Picture Book Readings

Read to Child 9 2 2014

“Our task must be to free ourselves … by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and it’s beauty.” ― Albert Einstein

The more compassion we can demonstrate, the brighter our colors become. I want to give you 7 techniques for powerful picture book readings where you and the children can have meaningful engagements on a particular theme. In this example, I want to focus on the theme of compassion. And I’ll be using a children’s classic, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, by Philip C. Stead. Here are the 7 techniques in chronological order …

1. Create Interest and Define New Vocabulary – Since this children’s book focuses on 5 animals you might see at the zoo; an elephant, a tortoise, a penguin, a rhinoceros, and an owl, show the children pictures of them.
2. Prepare the children for the story – Ask if anyone has seen these animals up close at their local zoo. Then tell them, this book is called “A Sick Day for Amos McGee.” Show them the front cover and ask the children what the book might be about.
3. Assist the children with the main message in the story – Have you ever helped your friends when they needed it? Have you reached out to them when they needed you? Talk to the children about compassion and how important it is to take care of each other.
4. Read the book aloud –
5. Ask questions that help reinforce the children’s understanding of the story – Did Amos McGee like to be on time? How do you know this? Where the animals at the zoo important to Amos? What types of things did Amos do to show his friendship to the animals? When Amos got sick, did his animal friends show compassion? How?
6. Relate the story’s main theme to children’s experiences – I took care of a close friend who was very sick for several months. My friend has since made a full recovery. Have you ever had to help someone who was sick? Who? Is there someone in this story that is like you? Who? Why?
7. Look at the story’s theme again – Have a child play the role of Amos McGee and have another play the role of the rhinoceros. Then have them reverse roles when Amos gets sick. Reinforce the theme of compassion as they help each other.

Ok – I think you’ve got it. Now grab that favorite children’s picture book and let your compassion flow!

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~ Robert Scott Thayer