Kevin Henkes does an amazing job describing some emotions and events to which children can relate. “Julius The Baby of the World” is no different. Lilly (who also stars in “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse”) is about to welcome a new brother into the world. “Welcome” might be the wrong adjective to use there. The theme of jealousy is visible throughout a majority of the story. Her parents “admire his small, black eyes and they stroke his sweet, white fur.” Lilly sums up her feelings towards him by calling those features “slimy” and “beady.”
In the end, as most children’s books go, Lilly defends her brother when she hears Cousin Garland utter those same negative words. I guess Julius is the Baby of the World after all!
This is a great book to introduce to children who either have, or will be getting, siblings. Connections can be made with how Lilly feels versus how your child does. Maybe this book can even solve the age-old sibling rivalry forever?! Doubtful, but worth a try!
Make sure to try a few of these out as you read!
- Children have a difficult time recognizing syllables in words. This concept is important because it teaches them tracking- or not moving onto the next word whenever they hear a new sound. Try clapping for each syllable in words. Let your child point to a word and follow your model of clapping.
- Children also need to recognize that words have initial and final sounds. Use the characters’ names in this book to demonstrate. After telling him/her the initial and final sounds of Julius, Lilly and Garland, play a guessing game. Say “I’m thinking of someone whose name starts with J and ends with S.” You can extend this to do with family members.
- More advanced learners can move onto learning all the phonemes (the actual sounds) in words. Have your child point out a three letter word from the book (Ex- “can”). Write each letter on a small scrap of paper. Model pushing each letter one at a time saying C (push the c)- A (push the a)- N (push the n). See if your child can do that independently. If that’s too easy, try some longer words.
- For the active learner, make hand puppets of the characters once you’ve read the book. Go back and reread it by acting out the story.
- This book has some very rich language, as most children’s books do. More skilled learners can practice drawing from context clues to figure out the meaning of these complex words. Some of these more challenging words include insulting, admired, ghastly, disgusting, uncooperative, etc. Have your child predict their meaning by rereading the sentence and looking at the pictures for clues. This is called using context clues to decode a word.
I could go on and on with Henkes, but I’ll stop here. He has MANY other great books to choose from so don’t let your journey stop here!
Next week I may switch things up a bit. I want to break down the different components of learning to read so that you know where your child is functioning. This will allow you to better choose which activity to use. This will also give you a broader sense of what you should be doing with your child with any read-aloud.
Think about where you think your child is on the reading spectrum and check back in next week to see if you’re right!