The Taleigao MOP site has a serious age divide. The group attracts really little ones who are emerging into literacy and reading and slightly older more motivated readers who want to emerge into the literate world.
The book I had chosen was Funny Fred. A simple yet charming book by Pete Coplan about Fred’s first day at school.
It was the New Year, a new school day and I felt it would be an appropriate time to read this story as every one would connect with it at an appropriate level and they did.
For the song, we sang an improvised ” Hurry Hurry pack the school bag” and this being a routine and a familiar task there was excited packing and miming and some loud singing. Even the wee ones knew about packing bags.
We spoke about what you do in school and what you carry to school and there were chorus of responses about tiffin boxes, water bottles, pencils etc.. books came last 🙂 . But what the heck, we are a patient lot and understood that meaning first comes from what makes sense to us.
This conversation set the stage for the packing bag relay game which they enjoyed.
Each child ( broken into 2 teams) had to run to the items laid out and pick something to pack in the bag. They had to run to the bag and put it in, return to their team and send the next partner. Oh the speed and the joy the fun and the run, made it a super game and enabled each child to predict that our story read aloud will have something to do with a bag/ school.
And they were RIGHT! Fred is off to his first day of school and is worrying about what to pack. He gets varied responses from siblings and the grocery story man and finally his parents set him right. The story line is linear and simple but the illustrations tell much more to the story and with careful passing around of the book, one is able to allow listeners the chance to read the pictures, read what is implicit to the text and grow as readers.
Kanchan and Reema immediately made sense of the brother’s suggestion to take a spade to school because he was reading about ‘digging’. Actually he was reading a book about archaeology and that led to ‘spade’. Meaning making was enabled because of good illustrations. When Fred’s grandma tells him to take a pet to school to have someone to talk with, it reminded us about how grandma might be lonely and when Fred’s grandpa tells him to take a pillow as the seats are hard it reminded us about how as we age, our body might not be as strong as it was and so we read between the lines making sense of Fred’s worries.
The young ones could read the book at a more literal level, connecting with Fred and the worry about school. Sudip said he was probably worried that the teacher would beat him. A worry that received a warm response. It was a MOP Taleigao worry and Fred allowed us a moment to reflect on it.
As the read aloud ended, there was a comforting feeling for Fred who finally got a new school bag and got the right tools in it. The children felt connected to both the story and the experiences at different levels and because this book helped us share so much I felt even more connected to them.
Stories do that and Funny Fred was a good one!