As a way to begin thinking about our favorite books and ways we understand them, my first graders and I have started to write and share what we are learning from the read alouds we have come back to again and again this year. The theme of friendship and the actions that are associated with friendship like helping, caring, trusting, forgiving and respecting each other have been "hot topics" for my learners this year. We have loved reading favorites like Big Al, Big Al and Shrimpy, Ruthie and the Teeny Tiny Lie, Amazing Grace, That's What Friends Are For. I just recently purchased this book called Help! A Story of Friendship by Holly Keller .
In this straightforward story, Hedgehog discovers mouse is hiding from their friend snake after hearing that snakes eat mice and are dangerous. Hedgehog tries to get mouse to brush off the gossip as they begin walking in the forest. Mouse falls into a hole and can't get out. Squirrel, Rabbit and of course Hedgehog (with his pointy back) are all unable to help mouse out of the hole. Snake comes by and wonders what is going on...he soon learns mouse is stuck but afraid of his help. Snake creatively rescues mouse without frightening him. Mouse is very embarrassed but very grateful.
I think the fact that the characters are animals is what first appealed to the kids. They like the pictures and they also like books about friendship (but that might be because they are so used to me forcing books with life lessons on them) so they wanted to hear this story. Today someone asked me to read it again and I jumped at the chance to see what they were taking away from the book. We have been talking quite a bit about how stories can teach us lessons about our own life ( a way of connecting) so I asked them to write about what the book taught them about being a friend. Most were off to jot a thought down on a post it while I sat with a few who needed a little more help along the way.
Leo wrote about how the book teaches her to take action and help a friend like snake helped mouse out of the hole.
JJ jotted down a list that read 1. caring
3. take action ( we have done quite a bit of talk about how heroes take action)
A few of my kids wrote about how they learned snakes eat mice and a few were stuck...I helped one student think about how he is like snake because he helps friends when they are afraid and he said..."oh yea like when I give hugs to Jimmy!" He got it but needed a bit of help along the way. We definitely needed a second read to be ready for this big thinking. This story works for friendship units and I will be adding it to books about good citizens basket we began at the beginning of the year.