easy reader · reading · slice of life

Can I Play Too?

This afternoon, Lynne Dorfman and I chatted on the phone about the chapter we’re finishing for our forthcoming book, WELCOME TO WRITING WORKSHOP. Near the end of our phone call, we began a “SOLSC Eve” conversation. I lamented to Lynne that I’ve been writing about anti-Semitism because it’s been consuming my thoughts. (Click here or here to see why.) I told her, “I don’t want to focus on what’s happening in the news all March long.”

Lynne gave me some straightforward advice. “Keep writing stories about Isabelle and Ari.” She reminded me I need to write about them despite all of the ugliness surrounding us now.

Simple enough, right?

Even though the Challenge begins tomorrow, I typically share the post I wrote on the previous day so I can get up and share first-thing in the morning. (In other words, I’m writing for 32 consecutive days.) So, here goes…

Something happened when Isabelle started Kindergarten. Her teacher began teaching them Everywhere Words (aka: sight words). And just like that, Isabelle began reading. As of today, the kids are up to 50 Everywhere Words, which means Isabelle can read simple books. However, the books she self-selected to bring home weren’t just right. They were safe. They were too easy.

Isabelle’s teacher and I chatted about my concerns. We decided she’d try an Elephant and Piggie Book we didn’t own. I Am Going was the first Elephant and Piggie book that came home from her teacher. It was CHALLENGING for Isabelle. (Thankfully, she was motivated because she enjoys the Elephant and Piggie books.) After a couple of weeks, Isabelle was able to read both Elephant and Piggie’s parts on her own. Therefore, she returned I Am Going to school.

can-i-play-tooWhile we finished up I Am Going, Isabelle’s teacher sent home Can I Play Too? This book frustrates Isabelle since it contains many words that aren’t on the list of Everywhere Words she has mastered. As a result, I read the Elephant and Snake’s parts and she reads Piggie’s part.

But today, something wonderful happened… and I don’t think Isabelle realized what she did. Today, Isabelle read several of Snake’s speech bubbles on her own! And when I say read them, I mean she put her finger under the first letter in each word as she went through each of the sentences. This happened without prompting. Isabelle read several of Snake’s speech bubbles and flowed right into Piggie’s speech bubbles. And I couldn’t be prouder of her!

I acknowledge this book is challenging for Isabelle, which is why we’re focusing solely on it this week. Perhaps, if I don’t push too much, she’ll read a few more of Elephant or Snake’s speech bubbles when we practice reading tomorrow.

Head over to https://twowritingteachers.org for more slice of life stories.
Head over to https://twowritingteachers.org for more slice of life stories.
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35 thoughts on “Can I Play Too?

  1. Being a mother and a literacy specialist is well … hard. Trying to balance what we know and understand about learning how to read and trusting the classroom teacher is a difficult challenge. However, I’m am so grateful for Elephant and Piggie for so many reasons and happy to hear your patience as Isabelle figures this reading thing out. It’s harmonious.

    1. That’s exactly what I was going to write! It’s hard to know how much to push. 🙂 It is so much fun to have my child read to me though. I love 6 year olds!

  2. Oh goodness, your post brought me right back to reading Elephant and Piggie with my youngest, Liam. He was the opposite of your Isabelle, he struggled with reading. Yet in first grade Elephant and Piggie was a comfort to him and he loved taking a part and reading it with me. So glad you all have found what works for Isabelle. What a joy a great series can be.

  3. I’ve been so bogged down in this political moment that it has been all-consuming, but I, too, am working to expand my focus.

    I love this reading story. And it occurs to me that how young children learn to read and face the reading struggles is uncannily similar to what I see my AP students do in their reading.

  4. How exciting to watch Isabelle’s process as she grows as a reader! You have already developed a love of books in her, so now she will have the stamina to engage in a challenging read, while still being able to reread favorites that she almost knows by heart! Hurrah for Isabelle! Hurrah for a mom who is not only a wonderful parent, but a wonderful teacher, too! (I also love Elephant and Piggie. Who doesn’t?!)

  5. I love your Isabelle stories and I can picture the two of you reading together. I can picture your surprise and how you tried not to make a big deal out what she did in front of her, even as you wanted to burst with pride.

  6. Totally love me some Piggie and Elephant!! Mo Willems is such a great storyteller with amazing voice! Glad you shared this moment even though lots of other junk is floating around. 😄

  7. There’s nothing nicer than motivating books, and E & P books are that and more! Although I have many books of my own and from the library, Imi turns to E & P often, especially, she says, when she wants to laugh! Love hearing these “steps” about Isabelle.She’s on her way!

  8. It’s interesting to watch emerging readers. My two were so different when they learned to read. And this post makes me want to read some E & P books because one day those grandsons of mine will begin reading! Keep the stories of your kids coming.

  9. Celebrate! I was so happy to read your story of Elephant and Piggie and the success your daughter found with that text. I believe it IS harder to be a parent and be patient with the reading process than it is with our students!

  10. Love hearing about Isabelle and Ari! I almost feel like I am part of your family. I can’t tell you how many times I heard my kids say to me (mostly as teenagers) – Sometimes I wish you weren’t a teacher! It is such a balancing act.

  11. I love the Elephant and Piggie books! I read them often with my Kinders and I see them try reading them on their own and it’s so rewarding to see them inspired to read!

    1. Isabelle met Elephant and Piggie at the NY Historical Society this past summer. She met Mo Willems, who signed some of her books too. I was more excited about her meeting Mo. She liked meeting him, but she LOVED meeting E&P!

  12. My school kids really enjoy Elephant and Piggie books. At the beginning of the year I really thought they were too ‘old’ to read these books–but they couldn’t get enough. The lessons that Mo Willems weaves into the simple story are what made it OK for me to share these books with my firsties. And then I fell in love with the books and completely understood the kids need to read these books!

  13. I’m a bit jealous. My kids are now in their 20s so I had Dr. Seuss and Go Dog Go but no Mo. What a gift he is to beginning readers! I buy all the Elephant and Piggie books because I love them but I keep thinking I should have a young reader. I’m at least set for the grandkids. Congrats to Isabelle’s reading success! Grateful to Mo!!

  14. I absolutely love the advice to focus on your kids when it would be so easy to vent about our political state right now. I also love the beginnings of kindergarten readers! How exciting! And Kindergarten! Do you just cry beautiful happy tears every day that your oldest is in K? I taught K for many years and just the thought of registering my son for K next spring gets me all sappy and tearing up! Ha!

  15. That balance is always tricky. Just finished Who’s Doing the Work? By Burkins and Yaris. As a teacher, growing kids as readers involved knowing what at level they should be working. Guided, independent , shared and read aloud. Gives me great reminders. Sounds like your daughter is on her way!

  16. I’m a literacy professor and dad to three young children (a first grader and two second graders). All three are 22 months apart. Even within one home, with children so close in age, I realize just how vastly different each reader is and how readers develop at their own pace. I think our own children often provide us our most meaningful literacy lessons.
    –Brian Kissel

    P.S. This is my first year doing the SOL a challenge and I’m loving it! Thanks for bringing it into the world!

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