"A house without books is like a room without windows." -Horace Mann

Friday, November 2, 2012

Jump! (and Halloween books)

by Scott M. Fischer

This is a fun children's book that my son actually discovered at the library.  Each page is about an animal that gets scared by a bigger animal, which makes it JUMP!  The book has great rhymes, good rhythm, and kids love to "help" read the story when its time to turn the page and JUMP!  And the artwork is fun, nothing fabulously amazing but not cheesy either.  My son picked this book to share with his Kindergarten class on his Superstar Day, and it was very popular.  The teacher commented that it was a very good choice for that age.  I love finding new books for the kids, and I enjoy them myself.

On a side note, I was invited to read at my nieces' school for their Halloween party.  My mother often reads there and she is quite popular but she was going to be out of town and recommended they ask me.  I was happy to fill in.  It was to be arranged thus: 15 kids at a time from ages K-7th grade, for 15 minutes each, and I would do this 5 times in a row.  I bit daunting but it was also exciting.  I love sharing my love of books with anyone and everyone.  I tried to think outside the box and pick some different books that the kids may not have read before.  And it was difficult to think of how to appeal to all the different age groups.  Luckily, the kids seems to enjoy it and were very respectful and well-behaved.

I had four different things to read, though I found I had to shorten my time and finally had to cut one out.  However, I'll include them all because they went well together.

1) I started out with reading/singing a poem called "Three Little Witches" by Marjorie Barrows.  My mom used to sing this to me when I was a kid, and it has a good rhythm and is fun.  A good way to get them interested and paying attention.

2) For the younger children, I chose a book called "Little Goblins Ten" which is kind of a Halloween version of the poem/song "Over in the Meadow".  Its a counting book, but its also got a good rhythm, and with this one I had the kids participate.  When I would say a word they had to respond back.  So it would go, "Haunt! said the daddy" and the kids would have to say back, "Haunt! said the two" and they would have to do it the way I did, so I tried to really ham it up and make scary Halloween noises

3) "The Witches" by Roald Dahl is a favorite of mine and so I used them for the older children, some of whom had read it.  I started by summarizing what Dahl says are the characteristics of a "real" witch, things like that they are bald, have no toes, etc.  The kids got a kick out of this part.  I then read an excerpt, the chant that the Grand High Witch says about their evil plan to turn all the children into mice.  This is the one I finally had to cut out of the last couple because I didn't really have enough time and I had to summarize the book a lot, but it was a good choice and a high recommendation from me.

4) I finished with Chris Van Allsburg's "The Witch's Broom".  It has the most wonderful haunting illustrations, as all his works do (Polar Express, Jumanji, Harris Burdick) and though its about a witch's broom, really its not too scary at all, just clever and quite a funny turn at the end.  It has a lot of deeper meaning which I thought maybe some of the older kids might pick up on as well, but most of the kids really were quite mesmerized with it.

So, all in all, it was a lot of fun and I hope the kids enjoyed the reading.  I certainly did, and I loved being able to visit the school and teachers, since I actually attended there way back in 4th grade.  Oh, and I forgot to mention that since a few of my books were about witches, I decided to dress the part, complete with a homemade broom, black teeth (braces are handy for this), and a big ugly wart on my nose.  It was fun!

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