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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

WORRIED About Your Child's Literacy Development?

Does Kevin Henkes capture your sentiments towards teaching your child to read in his book "Wemberly Worried?"  Wemberly's grandmother may have you pegged- "Worry, worry, worry... Too much worry."

Keeping with my Henkes theme, this is another wonderful story to share with your child.  It lends itself well for discussions about events that may be leaving your child anxious or concerned.  It also is an opportunity for you to share some of your worries and how you overcame them.  This allows your child to see that anxiety is an emotion people face, but that there are coping mechanisms to deal with it.

Wemberly, I'm guessing, is a Type A personality.  She worries that she'll shrink in the bathtub, or that the tree in their front yard will fall on the house.  Already, I'm picturing some people I know like this- no names mentioned ;).  Her worries are humorous and a way for you to further connect with your child.  Ask him/her why these worries are silly.

Wemberly's worst fear is starting school.  There are two entire pages of questions that Henkes includes to illustrate Wemberly's growing concern.  You can see the anxiety bloom as the questions build up in her head.  Use this page as an opportunity to introduce (or reinforce) question marks.  These are asking something, looking for a response, so they require a different type of punctuation.  Go on a Question Mark Hunt to find others within the story.  I love using Wikki Sticks to find words or punctuation in text.  But, if you don't have these, Twizzlers, Post-it Highlighter Pens or even string works.  Basically anything that engages your child and requires them to place something on the page.

You come to find that Wemberly's worries are pointless, as much of our worrying is!  She meets a friend and is excited to return the next day.  Can your child point out similarities and differences between Wemberly and Jewel?  You will be shocked to see Wemberly actually mutter the words, "Don't worry!"

Henkes weaves humor throughout his books.  "Wemberly Worried" is no exception.  Keep an eye on Grandma, as well as Wemberly's sidebar comments.  The threesome pattern seen in "Chrysanthemum" continues in this story.  Try to find it!

Here are some activities to do after reading the book:

  • Write WEMBERLY WORRIED on a sheet of paper.  Cut up each letter, so that you now have 15 smaller pieces of paper with a letter on each.  Try to come up with as many smaller words as you can using these letters.
  • Find opposites (or for advanced learners- antonyms).  You'll find BIG and LITTLE, DAY and NIGHT, EVERYTHING and NOTHING, etc.
  • More advanced learners can try to find long vowel words (Read this post to learn about long vowels ) with the pattern VCe (vowel-consonant-e).  We refer to this as the "Magic E" that takes a short vowel and stretches it out to make the long sound.  For example, MAD becomes MADE.  In the book, you'll find SMILE, SLIDE, MADE, PARADE, etc.
  • For younger learners, hunt for all words that start with a specific letter.  You can use the shaving cream activity to record these, or start a Word Bank .  
Let me know if you try one of these, whether it's successful or not!  Happy cuddling and happy reading!

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