Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Monday 3 September 2012

There Is A Bird On Your Head - Patsy Jones blogs about Mo Willems

3 September - my blog should be finished by now – what to write? What to write?

And then Rosemary (just after we’d finished a pigs and elephants Storytime at the Supermarket session with some lively three-to-five-year-olds) – said ‘What about Elephant & Piggie?’

We had enjoyed the story; the children had enjoyed the story; the grandparent and carer present had enjoyed the story; so I thought that was a good idea….

How many of you are familiar with this series, written by Mo Willems? He also wrote the Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus series and the Knuffle Bunny series, but to me, Gerald (the elephant) and Piggie (the pig) are totally the best.

The books are right for reading to and with pre-readers, and for first efforts with new readers. The language is simple, the vocabulary is limited, with a good proportion of phonics-based words that can be deciphered by ‘sounding-out’. The illustrations support the text, especially through emotions shown emphatically by the facial expressions and body language of Gerald and Piggie. And visual clues such as size of letters, bolding, and italicizing also assist in understanding the text.

But a particular advantage of these titles is the opportunity they provide to discuss the emotions and feelings shown by the characters, an essential part of the development of empathy in young children. For some children, it is not easy to ‘read’ the feelings of their peers, and the books provide plenty of scope for initiation of discussion of body language and facial expression.

And the books are witty and very funny – you will laugh out loud in parts of them and this will, of course, enhance your enjoyment of the reading session, whether it’s with your children, your grandchildren, or your students.

You can find these books in the State Library, so have a look at them. They may also be on the shelves of a school library near you.

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