My favorite part of the first chapter book of the year is opening to the first chapter, beginning to read, and being interrupted: “I can’t seeee!”
I pause mid-sentence and smile, letting the bitties wait a moment, and then I turn the book to face them. Their faces when all they see is words is wonderful. I love that moment.
“Where are the pictures?” one asks.
“There are a few pictures throughout the book,” I answer. “But mostly there are just words. This is called a chapter book.” They seem to accept this and I start over from the very first word.
This group of bitties finished their first chapter book this past Wednesday. It was Junie B., First Grader: Toothless Wonder by Barbara Park. (I chose it as the first because so many of them are losing teeth right now.)
Here are my favorite moments:
- “What does Mr. Scary look like?” my smallest asked part way through the first chapter.
“They haven’t said,” I answered before countering: “What do you think he looks like?” The class then had a conversation about what he looked like in their mind, and why.
- My class was filled with conversation, prompted by me and not. After we read the chapter where we found out Junie B is afraid of the Tooth Fairy, they came back from lunch and told me all about their theories on why she might not like the fairy.
I’ll say that again. 6/7 year olds talked about a book outside of the classroom.
- They know what an exclamation mark is now and when to use it.
- They laughed, constantly. It was fun!
- When I closed the book they continued to look at me expectantly. “The End,” I said.
“But…” one of my boys stammered. “What happens next? She said she was going to go to school and show her class.”
“That’s where they ended the book,” I answered. “What happens next is up to you. If you guys want to, you can go home and write what happens next. Bring it back and I’ll read it to the class.” (He did.)
- “Wait… she’s not real?” one of my girls asked when she found out Junie B was just a character. This is the first experience most of them have had with character voice. To them, she felt real. She is relatable, she has spunk, and they love her.
- “Ms. W,” one shout-whispered in the hallway when I picked them up from Library on Thursday. “Mrs. A. has two more Junie B books! We asked her!”
I smiled big. “I have all of them.”
Their eyes got big. “Even the one with the super hero cape?”
“Yep. Junie B is Captain Field Day.”
Chapter books are wonderful. This is the first time the bitties aren’t given all of the puzzle pieces put together, the first time a story lasts longer than a day or two, the first time they can truly hear character voice and relate.