I absolutely believe in the power of the read aloud. And I love to choose books that I know kids are going to love listening to. But, I also know that we do not always have the time to have students just listening to books, we need to maximize that time and use the power of the read aloud and lift student learning at the same time. I love finding books that will draw in students while allowing them to play with higher level learning, and this book is perfect!
One of the skills that can be tricky to teach and tricky to learn is inferring, or drawing conclusions. I see students who are all over with this skill - not using the information that is in the text, connecting to what they know but not adding the information from the text, not being able to connect it all together, connecting it but unable to say what it could mean. It's a hard concept.
But here.... here is a great read aloud that you can use to have students practice over and over the skill of inferring.
Fenway and Hattie and the Evil Bunny Gang
by Victoria Coe
published by G. P. Putnam's Sons
January 24, 2017
When evil bunnies invade the Dog Park, Fenway’s hot on their trail. Hattie seems understandably alarmed, though she clearly doesn’t appreciate his efforts. She shoos him out of the garden and fills in holes as fast as he can dig them!
Fenway wonders if his beloved Hattie could be working against him, until she brings home a cage with a bunny inside. He can hardly control his excitement - she captured one of the intruders! But when Fenway realizes Hattie actually likes the bunny, he’s crushed. Is his heart big enough to accept that Hattie can love another pet, too?
In this sequel to Fenway and Hattie, these two best buddies learn that making the right choice can be tough, but being a real friend is the greatest choice of all.
My quick thoughts:
The reader is lucky. They are on the outside looking in. The reader gets to understand the thoughts of Fenway. And how lucky is that - to know what a dog is thinking! But Fenway sees things as a dog, not as a human. Which means the reader has to draw conclusions what Fenway is saying. All. The. Time. And the reader gets to see the scene laid out by Fenway, but with knowledge of what life is like as a human. Use what we know about human life, add that in with Fenway's thoughts, and we're drawing conclusions again. In every chapter of the entire book. Perfect.
Last year's Fenway and Hattie was a favorite book of mine because I knew how much young readers would love it. Now we're getting book #2 and the series is getting better and better. I loved Victoria's writing even more in this sophomore book - maybe because she knows the characters even more now, maybe because we know the characters even better - but it just seemed like this book flowed. I loved the conflicts of Fenway in this novel. He's still misunderstood, and even though his heart is in the right place, his actions keep getting him in trouble (know any youngsters like that?). Young readers are going to love his continued adventures.
Be sure to pick up a copy - or you may need more than that - on January 24th!