Text and Text Talk for raising Lifelong Engaged Readers
I have taken a longer-then-expected break from my blog and hope to get back into it again as some other commitments wind down. I am picking up with TATTLER #3 and the book The Teddy Bear, since that has been on the “next up” list since last fall. I hope to do more frequent TATTLERS as well as other posts about raising lifelong readers!
The Teddy Bear (by David McPhail)
Listening Level: PreS – Grade 3
Synopsis: When a young boy leaves his beloved teddy bear at a restaurant, it is accidentally thrown out in the dumpster and subsequently rescued by a homeless man. The man takes care of the bear, and they become inseparable companions. Then one day, the boy finds the bear on a park bench and grabs it joyfully, excited to be reunited with it. When the boy recognizes the man’s anguish and realizes that he needs the bear more than he does, the boy returns the bear to the man.
With the dimensions of homelessness and compassion for another human being, this is not your typical lost-and-found teddy bear story. I love this book and the messages that it conveys — it is a gem that I hope will be treasured in our family forever.
Standout Text Features
This book has so many features that make it conducive to building strategies and knowledge required for understanding narrative text, including:
– Narrative text structure with key story elements (e.g., characters, setting, character goal, problem, resolution)
– Rich psychological landscape, with character thoughts and emotions playing a significant role in the story
– Many possible character responses and outcomes throughout the story, making it a great text for working on predictions.
– Important messages that promote meaningful discussion with deep thinking for a wide range of ages. Themes include the value of human kindness, the importance of empathy and compassion, and the idea that people who are somehow “different” still have needs and feelings (often the same needs and feelings as our own).
– The simple and minimal text also makes this a great choice for beginning readers (which can be hard to find — simple text and good narrative).
– despairing: losing all hope or confidence
– rejoiced: felt joy or great delight
– ambled: walked in a leisurely manner
– occupy: to fill up one’s time; to take up the attention or energies of
– wailing: expressing sorrow with mournful cries; making a sound like a mournful cry; expressing dissatisfaction
Target Comprehension Strategies
2. Inferring character emotions and thoughts
3. Making text connections
Before Reading Aloud
– Have you read another story about a teddy bear? What happened in that story? (Text-to-text connection)
– The title of this book is The Teddy Bear. Based on the title and the picture on the cover, what do you think will happen in this story? (Predicting)
– In this story, it is important to understand what it means to be “homeless”. What does this word mean to you? What do you know about people who are homeless? Help your child think about who is affected by homelessness (not just middle-aged men), where homeless people live, and why people become homeless. (Text-to-world connection)
While Reading Aloud
– (Pg.6, “…the teddy bear was left behind.”) Oh no, look where the bear is! What do you predict will happen to the bear? Why do you think that? (Predicting)
– (Pg.8, “By the time…”) How do you think the boy is feeling here? How do you think his parents are feeling? What do you think so? (Inferring character emotions)
– (Pg.10, “Long hours passed.”) Who do you think found the bear? Do you think that’s the little boy grabbing him? What clues make you think that? (Predicting)
– (Pg.11, “But the hands…”) What do you think the man is thinking here? (Inferring character thoughts)
– (Pg.13, “Night came on…”) On this page, the author said that the man “made his way home”. Where is his ‘home’? Why do you think the dumpster is referred to as his home? (Vocabulary/concept development)
– (Pg.13, “Night came on…”) Have you ever seen a homeless person? How do you know he/she was homeless? Where do you think that person’s “home” was? (Text-to-self connection)
– (Pg.16, “…and the sad little teddy bear…”) What do you predict will happen at the end of the story? Who do you think will end up keeping the bear? How do you think the character who DOES NOT keep the bear will feel at the end of the story? Why do you think that? (Predicting)
– (Pg. 16, “…and the sad little teddy bear…”) What are the man’s “daily rounds”? What does he do on his daily rounds? (Vocabulary/concept development)
– (Pg.17, “Days passed.”) What do you think the boy is thinking in this picture? Do you think he’s thinking about his teddy bear? Why or why not? (Inferring character thoughts)
– (Pg.20, “Now it just so happened…”) What do you think the boy is thinking here as he is looking at the teddy bear? (Inferring character thoughts)
– (Pg.22, “Then they saw…) Let’s look closely at this picture. What do you predict will happen next? What clues make you think that? (Predicting)
– (Pg.26, “The bearded man smiled.”) What do you think the boy was thinking when he gave the bear back? How do you think he was feeling? How would you feel if that was your teddy bear and you were giving it back to a homeless person? (Inferring character thoughts and emotions)
After Reading Aloud
– Earlier in this story you predicted that ___________. Did your prediction come true? Why/why not? (Evaluating predictions)
– Has anything ever happened in your own life similar to what happened in this story? Have you ever lost something important to you? Have you ever realized that you didn’t need something anymore? What did you do with it? Have you ever given something of yours to someone else? Why did you give it to them? (Text-to-self connection)
– If there were one more page, what do you predict would happen next? What will the boy do? What will the man do with the bear?What would they say if the had a chance to see each other again? (Predicting)
1. Why do you think the boy returned the bear to the man? Why is the boy able to give it up? What did the boy learn?
2. How did the boy, the bear, and the bearded man each feel once the bear was returned to the bearded man?
3. Discuss the following quote from the story on page 27: “I know what you mean, ” said the little boy. “I used to have one just like him.” Did the boy think that was actually his bear, or did he think he just had one “just like him”? If he did know it was his same bear, why didn’t he tell that to the bearded man?
4. Why don’t you think the author tells us the boy’s name in the story?
5. Was this story realistic? Is it believable that this ending would really happen? Why/why not?
6. The boy realized that the bearded man would be in pain if he were to take the bear away (just like he was in pain when he lost the bear), so he decided to give the bear back. He felt the man’s suffering, and actually did something about it. Can you think of any opportunities in your own life when you acted compassionately toward others to help them? Someone at school? In your family? In your community?
Bonus TATTLER Tips
– Encourage your child to make a “character feelings chart”. Fold a piece of paper into 3 columns, and prompt your child to indicate with drawing or writing how the boy and the bearded man felt at the beginning, middle, and ending of the story. Compare/contrast their feelings at each part of the story and how their feelings each changed throughout.
– Encourage letter-writing from the boy to the bear, from the bear to the boy, or from the bearded man to the boy. What would the character say to the other character? Also include how the character writing the letter feels and why.
– Encourage your child to write a different version of the story! This story is written in the 3rd person, with a narrator recounting the events from the “outside”. Try retelling the story from the point of view of the bear, the boy, or the bearded man. What details and emotions will you include depending on the perspective of the narrator? It can be extra fun to write and illustrate your story in a real book format (i.e., check out Barebooks.com for authentic blank books that are great for book-making)!
– Read books with related themes so that your child can have conversations that involve additional text-to-text connections! For example, read other texts with themes about beloved teddy bears that are lost or left behind and discuss similarities and differences. Some books to include are Where’s My Teddy? (Jez Alborough), Corduroy
(Don Freeman), Ira Sleeps Over (Bernard Waber), Old Bear (Jane Hissey), and A Bear in War (H. Endrulat & S. Innes). Or, read other picture books that allow for deeper discussions about homelessness, such as any of these fantastic options: Fly Away Home
(Eve Bunting), The Can Man (Laura Williams), I Can Hear the Sun (Patricia Polacco), The Lady in the Box (Ann McGovern), The Lunch Thief (Anne Bromley), Someplace to Go
(Maria Testa), Sam and the Lucky Money (Karen Chinn), The Family Under the Bridge
(Natalie Carlson), and Shoebox Sam (Mary Barrett).
– Learn more about teddy bears with some nonfiction reading! Search the internet with your child to learn about the history of the teddy bear (including its link with President Theodore Roosevelt), and/or read the book The Legend of the Teddy Bear (Myths, Legends, Fairy and Folktales) by Frank Murphy.
– Take action! Encourage generosity and compassion towards homeless people in your own community. Brainstorm ideas with your child about ways your family can help, and take steps to make it happen. Afterwards, reflect on how those actions related to the generous boy in the book, and share feelings about how the acts of generosity made your child feel.
The next TATTLER text pick will be: The Mightiest (by Keiko Kasza)