Today my kindergarten students and I read
published by Bloomsbury.
We had a great time.
Before reading the book, we talked about Picture Book Month and how picture books help us understand situations, like finding and making new friends. I asked the students if they had ever had a hard time making a friend, here are a few responses:
After that discussion, the students gave advice on how to be a friend:
I showed the students the cover of the book and explained that Dennis is a mime. We then explored what it is to be a mime and communicate with only expressions and body language. I modeled this with the students. If I had more time, I would have had the students explore miming emotions with each other. I plan to do this with my first graders.
We next looked at the jacket art and the case art. The students were curious to know how this heart pin fit into the story.
They were quick to discover the answer and see its importance. They are close readers. (It belongs to Dennis, but he gives it to Joy, his new found friend.)
The students also loved the heart shape repeating in the invisible jump rope.
This book inspired many important conversations around friendship. I think the illustrations left just the right amount of thinking space for the students to connect with the story but also make it their own.
Salina's spare use of narrative complements the story and allows her art to take center stage, which is fine, because these illustrations are something special and powerful. We feel elation in scenes like this...
...and feel sadness in moments like this.
(Although I love that my kindergarten students felt like he did have a friend in the little blue bird.)
I was also interested that Dennis was the topic of an important conversation in one of my classes.
One class of students wanted to talk about why Dennis did not use his voice. They offered these reasons. I am heartened by their openness.
"Maybe he can't talk because his throat hurts."
"Maybe he just doesn't want to."
"Maybe he can't talk because he's sick."
"Maybe he doesn't want to talk."
"Maybe he's scared to talk."
Be a Friend is a beautifully-illustrated book will inspire conversations and warm the hearts of all readers.
After reading the book, students had time to draw what friendship looks like:
Be a Friend will hit bookstores in January. Keep your eye out for it!