“Story Talk: Use Conversation to Fall in Love with a Book–A Reading Resource using Float by Daniel Miyares”
Reading a story with a child is one of the most loving ways to build a relationship. Snuggled up together, you can laugh, feel sad, be curious, and learn something, together. Stories open up worlds and let us see things through the eyes of another. It’s the best way to teach empathy.
The first few times you read a story, just enjoy the experience of saying the words, or looking at the pictures. How is your child responding? Let them just sit with the feelings they have.
But you don’t have to stop there. The real reason to read a story more than once or twice is so you can get to know it better, learn its secrets, discover what it’s trying to tell you. Just like a new friend, the first few times you meet, you just want to have fun. But each time you return to the story, try to learn a little more about it. This is how you fall in love with storytelling, and with reading.
Here’s a secret about authors: They wish they could be in the room with you, talking to you about their story. Since they can’t do that, they leave you clues instead. It’s like a puzzle – can you figure out what the author was thinking about? Why did they use that word, that color, or those images? The author loves it when you take the time to get to know what they are thinking.
Once you feel like you understand howthe author thinks, see if you can determine whythe author thinks that way. What was this story really trying to tell you?
Take a look at the picture book Float by Daniel Miyares. There are no words, but it is most definitely a rich story. The first time you read it, just flip through the pages and ask your child what is happening. What is this story about?
After a few reads, you can stop at a few places on each page and point to something, pose a question, and ponder with your child about the choices that the author or illustrator made. Not only are you getting to know the story better, you are providing your child with a blueprint for how to approach reading. Can they visualize something? Will they make a prediction? Does this story connect with their own life in any way? When children can do these things on their own, they are more likely to stay engaged with reading, and to go beyond the surface to explore deeper understanding.
If you want an example of how this can look, follow the prompts in the figure below. On each page of the story, notice the feature identified under “Stop at…”. Have a conversation about the feature. As you do this, you are modeling great reading strategies, such as Visualizing, Making Predictions, Summarizing, Asking Questions, Inferring, or Making Connections to the text. These conversations are reading skill-builders.
Then, go a little deeper. Ask your child to consider what the author was thinking about, or to try to explain a choice the author made. These questions will help the child understand that behind every story is a human being who just wants a moment of your time to talk to you about something they care about.
In school, teachers will call this “close reading.” Close reading means reading a text more than once, for multiple purposes. First, read to get the gist. What is the story about? Who are the characters? What happens first, in the middle, and at the end?
Next, read for author’s craft. This means paying attention to the word choices the author made, the text structure they chose, the images they used. What was the context for the story? From whose point of view is the story told?
Finally, read to evaluate the ideas from multiple perspectives. What does the story stir up in you? Does it make you want to take an action, or make a change in your own life?
This may sound very dry and academic and like it takes a lot of work. But it doesn’t have to be so formal. It’s a conversation, a way to make friends with a story, and let it into your life. Get to know it, ask it questions, try to understand its point of view. Be a good friend. In return, you may get a companion that will stay with you for a long, long time.
As you read…
|Page||Suggestions of Places to Pause…||Focus on a Reading Strategy…||Have a Discussion About…|
|Inside cover||Arrows and dotted lines||Visualize: What do the arrows mean? What do the dotted lines mean?
How many sheets of paper will be needed to make this?
|Text Structure: What is the author/illustrator showing us?|
|Title||Float||Inferring: What did the instructions on the previous page make? (Hint: There’s a clue on the cover)|
|1-2||Picture: Notice the blue square||Inferring: How many people are in the picture? Who do you think they are?||Author’s/Illustrator’s Craft: Why is there only a little bit of color on the paper? What does the illustrator want you to notice?|
|3-4||What the child is wearing; the sky||Predicting: What will the weather be like?||Author’s/Illustrator’s Craft: Why did the author make the coat and boots the only color in the picture?|
|5-6||Third panel||Questioning: How does the child feel in the first panel? In the second? In the third?||Author’s/Illustrator’s Craft: What do the three panels represent?|
|7-8||Yellow||Visualize: Does this look like rainstorms you have seen?
Make Connections: Do you like the rain?
|Gist: What is this story about so far?|
|9-10||Reflections||Question: Has the weather changed? Why is the picture of the house and tree upside down?||Citing Evidence: How do you know it is still raining?|
|11-12||Blurred lines, ripples||Summarizing: Explain what is happening in this picture.||Citing Evidence: How does the author/illustrator show movement?|
|13-14||Second panel||Visualizing: What angle are we seeing the child from? How do you know?
What do the wavy white lines mean?
|Gist: What did the rain provide for the boat?|
|15-16||Child holding his hat; perspective||Predicting: Who is faster- the child or the boat?
What will happen to the boat?
|Citing Evidence: The child is holding onto the hat. Is it windy or is the child running fast? What are the clues in the picture?|
|17-18||Child’s pose||Summarize: Explain what has happened.||Integration of Ideas: How has the child’s feelings about the boat changed so far?|
|19-20||Top panel||Questioning: Did the child see the boat cross the street?|
|21-22||Child’s pose||Predicting: What is about to happen to the boat?|
|23-24||Child’s face||Making Connections: How does it feel to lose something you care about?||Author’s/Illustrator’s Craft: The illustrator used the color black and drew a shadow across the boat. Do you think the child will be able to find the boat?|
|25-26||Water||Inferring: Where did the boat go?|
|27-28||Third panel||Inferring: How does the child feel?||Integration of Ideas: The weather has changed again. What is the relationship between the rain and the child’s mood?|
|29-30||Shadow||Visualizing: What time of day is it? Where is the child going?|
|31-32||Boat||Questioning: Who opened the door?||Gist: What do you think the child will tell the adult about what happened?|
|33-34||First and third panels||Making Connections: What do you do when someone you care about is sad? What makes you feel better when you are sad?|
|35-36||Pink picture in the paper||Predicting: What do you think they will make with the paper?||Citing Evidence: Is it morning or night-time? What clues did the illustrator give you?|
|37-38||Color of the sky; what the child is holding||Summarizing: What time of day is it? How do you know?
Predicting: What is going to happen next?
|Integration of Ideas: Yellow is a bright color. What does the author/illustrator want us to know about how the child is feeling?|
|39-40||Child’s pose, clothes||Predicting: Was your prediction from the last page correct?||Integration of Ideas: What is something you can tell yourself when something makes you sad? What determines if you will be happy or sad?|
|41-42||Arrows, dotted lines||Questioning: Why did this story end this way?||Text Structure: How is this page the same as, and different from, the opening page?|
|Furthering the Conversation|
|Think about the title. What does the word “float” mean? Explain what it means for a boat or for a plane. How could you use the word “float” to describe an attitude?|
Do you have a favorite story that you would like broken down this way? Please send suggestions to Story Talk, a website for engaging in reading conversations. https://hillwolfe.wixsite.com/story-talk, or email me at email@example.com.
About Educator Hillary Wolfe: Hillary Wolfe is a Director of Curriculum and Instruction in El Monte, CA, who has worked with students from grades pre-K through 12, and has served as an instructional coach, intervention coordinator, and media specialist. As a classroom teacher, she created a writing curriculum for middle- and high school literacy students reading two or more years below grade level, helping her students achieve substantial gains on state exams. Ms. Wolfe also brings 10 years as a journalist and an education columnist to her understanding of instruction and best practices. She has written books on writing strategies (Capstone 2013/2015), and teachers guides for phonemic awareness activities (Capstone 2017), as well as articles on literacy and intervention in national journals. She has made presentations around literacy for national organizations, and has served as an editor, curriculum writer, and Academic Officer in educational publishing as well as a Coordinator for Academic Interventions for the Orange County Department of Education.
Creator: Daniel Miyares
Published June 9th, 2015 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Children
About the Book:A boy’s small paper boat and his large imagination fill the pages of this wordless picture book, a modern-day classic from the creator of Pardon Me! that includes endpaper instructions for building a boat of your own.
A little boy takes a boat made of newspaper out for a rainy-day adventure. The boy and his boat dance in the downpour and play in the puddles, but when the boy sends his boat floating down a gutter stream, it quickly gets away from him.
So of course the little boy goes on the hunt for his beloved boat, and when the rain lets up, he finds himself on a new adventure altogether.
This seemingly simply story from Daniel Miyares is enriched with incredible depth and texture that transcend words.
Thank you, Hillary, for this amazing resource!
Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Illustrator: Floyd Cooper
Publication Date: January 24, 2017 by HarperCollins
Summary: In this picture book biography, the late New York Times bestselling author Walter Dean Myers and acclaimed artist Floyd Cooper take readers on […]
Frederick Douglass: The Lion Who Wrote History
Author: Walter Dean Myers
Illustrator: Floyd Cooper
Publication Date: January 24, 2017 by HarperCollins
Summary: In this picture book biography, the late New York Times bestselling author Walter Dean Myers and acclaimed artist Floyd Cooper take readers on an inspiring journey through the life of Frederick Douglass.
Frederick Douglass was a self-educated slave in the South who grew up to become an icon. He was a leader of the abolitionist movement, a celebrated writer, an esteemed speaker, and a social reformer, proving that, as he said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
The story of one of America’s most revered figures is brought to life by the text of award-winning author Walter Dean Myers and the sweeping, lush illustrations of artist Floyd Cooper.
Review: We bought this book in 2017 when it first came out, and we read it again and again and again. My kids love to listen and learn about one of the most brilliant people to have ever lived. His story is incredibly inspiring. Even as a young boy, Douglass defied the world and never took no as an answer. The details of his story within this book show children (and adults) that they must push for what is right and commit to changing the world for the better. This book belongs in every classroom (and not just relegated to the classroom library). It should be shared collectively and purposefully with kids.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: There are endless uses for this book. One suggestion is that it could serve as a read-aloud and close reading at the start of a research or biography unit. Kids might look at the use of pictures and the pacing of the story to write their own nonfiction picture book.
- How does Douglass regularly display strength and resolve throughout his life?
- How is the book paced to reveal key moments of Douglass’ life?
- What other famous figures related to issues of equity showed this kind of resolve? How do their stories connect to Douglass’ story?
Read This If You Love: Nonfiction picture books, Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, Schomburg: The Man Who Built the Library by Carole Boston Weatherford, Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe, Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra by Andrea Davis Pinkney, We March by Shane W. Evans, Harlem’s Little Blackbird: The Story of Florence Mills by Renee Watson, Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford
National Geographic Kids: Little Kids First Big Book of Science
Author: Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld
Published April 4th, 2019 by National Geographic Kids
Summary: What is science? What do scientists do? This lively reference book answers these questions and many more, all while introducing kids to the amazing things that scientists study: animals and plants, oceans and space, earthquakes and volcanoes, sound and light, inventions, and more!
Make sure kids’ first experience of the wonders of science is a thrilling eye-opener with this fun reference book. Fun activities, games, and simple experiments encourage interactive learning, showing kids that anyone can use scientific observation and experimentation to be a scientist and discover new things. With bright images and age-appropriate text, this book inspires kids to be curious, ask questions, and explore the world around them. And, maybe even grow up to be a scientist one day, too! Topics touched on include astronomy, botany, paleontology, malacology (that’s the science of clams, snails, and other animals with shells!), zoology, and more.
Inside you’ll find:
- More than 200 incredible photos
- Age-appropriate explanations of the things that scientists wonder about and learn
- Questions and activities in each chapter that encourage interactive learning
- Simple text for reading aloud or for beginning readers, and fun facts on every page
- Parent tips that extend the experience beyond the book
About the Author: Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld was a children’s book editor for more than 10 years before becoming a full-time writer. She has published more than 60 books for children, most about animals and natural history.
Other National Geographic Kids Little Kids First Big Books:
Review: National Geographic Kids books are such amazing resources for kids and adults! I just love reading through the books because I always learn something, too, and the images are beautiful. And as a mom, I love reading it with Trent because he adores science and the books are such an inquisitive conversation starter. As a teacher, I can see so many ways that this book could be used in an elementary classroom. It is just a perfect triad!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: The book is made to be used with children when discussing science. There are a plethora of ways to use it! The book speaks for itself:
Additionally, the parent resources in the back are amazing for home and classroom! Here are some examples of the hands-on science discussions/activities for adults to do with kids in the “Parent Tips” section (just a summary):
- Egg, Plus Heat (Chemistry): Looks at how heat changes the egg.
- Moon Shapes (Astronomy): Lunar calendar
- House of Blocks (Engineering): Make the most stable structures.
- What is a hypothesis?
- What is a Control?
- What are the different branches of science?
- Why do we get vaccinations?
- What are the different kinds of animals?
- What is an ecosystem?
- What are the three different states of matter?
- What moves faster: light or sound?
- Word play with the glossary!
Some of the Interactive Questions from throughout the book
- If you could spend a day with one of these scientists, who would you choose?
- Which part of the body would you like to learn more about? Why?
- Can you name three ways you look different from when you were a baby?
- What wild animal would you most like to study? Why?
- Which ecosystem would you most like to visit? Why?
- How many ocean animals can you name?
- If you could travel to another planet, which one would you choose?
- What would you like to invent?
Read This If You Love: Science!
**Thank you to Karen at Media Masters Publicity for providing a copy for review**
We Are (Not) Friends
Author: Anna Kang
Illustrator: Christopher Weyant
Published May 1st, 2019 by Two Lions
Summary: Two fuzzy friends are having a fun playdate when a new pal hops in. As the day continues, each friend feels left out at times. It isn’t so easy to figure out how to act when everything seems to change. With humor and heart, the beloved characters from Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small navigate a friendship triangle as only they can.
About the Creators: Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant are the creators of Theodor Seuss Geisel Award winner You Are (Not) Small as well as series titles That’s (Not) Mine, I Am (Not) Scared, and We Are (Not) Friends. They also wrote and illustrated Eraser, which was recently honored with The Christopher Award, Can I Tell You a Secret?, and Will You Help Me Fall Asleep? Christopher’s work can also be seen in The New Yorker, and his cartoons are syndicated worldwide. This husband-and-wife team lives in New Jersey with their two daughters and their rescue dog. Visit them at www.annakang.com and www.
Twitter: @annakang27 @christophweyant
Instagram: annakangbooks; christopherweyant
Facebook: Anna Kang – Author; Christopher Weyant
Praise for You Are (Not) Small:
Winner of the 2015 Theodore Seuss Geisel Award
ALA Notable Children’s Book
Parents’ Choice Awards Silver Honor
NPR Best Books of 2014
Kellee’s Review: When I first read this series to my son, he had a hard time because so much of it has to do with reading facial expressions and understanding dialogue; however, now that he is five (vs. three), this series is a favorite! The conversations we have around the two aspects that made this book better for a pre-k kid instead of a preschooler are phenomenal. And although I loved the series as a reader when I first was introduced, now as a mom I appreciate it so much more. The newest one is definitely a perfect one to read with someone Trent’s age as it is about playing nice, sharing friends and toys, and just overall being a kind person.
Ricki’s Review: I absolutely love this series, and my kids love it, too. I have gifted a few copies of the books to friends with young kids. The messages are wonderful, and they allow for discussions about important topics in age-appropriate ways. For instance, when I was reading it to my two-year-old, I pointed to the picture of the character who was sad and asked questions like, “How does he feel? Why does he feel sad? Have you ever felt sad? Have you ever felt left out? What do you do when you see a friend who is sad?” I particularly liked this book because it focuses on issues of friendship. Sometimes, kids feel like they need to claim other kids as their best friends, and this makes other kids feel left out. Also, sometimes, kids get excluded from play. This is an issue I see in both my two-year-old’s and five-year-old’s classes. The book is accessible for kids of many ages, and the lessons are important. If you haven’t read the books in this series, I recommend them highly!
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Read this series with kids! Read it to them, discuss it with them, let them navigate it on their own, and let them love it. Each book has a different lesson without being didactic. And they are just so much fun and have fantastic illustrations!
- How does ____ feel? How can you tell?
- Why do you think ____ feels this way?
- What could ____ have done to make the situation different?
- How is what happened in the book like something in your life?
Read This If You Love: Anything by the Kang and Weyant team
**Thank you to Blue Slip Media and Two Lions for copies for review and giveaway!!**
Author: Stacy McAnulty
Illustrator: Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Published December 4, 2018 by Running Press
Summary:From award-winning author Stacy McAnulty comes a sweet story about love and what it’s really all about.
What is love? Can you only express it in fancy meals, greeting cards, and heart-shaped chocolates? Kids will find love everywhere in this delightful book. It can be found in everyday moments such as baking cookies with grandma, notes from Mom in your lunchbox, or a family singing together on a car trip, and it isn’t always what you expect!
With delightful illustrations by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff and sweetly simple prose by award-winning author Stacy McAnulty, thisis the perfect book to teach children what love means, why it’s important, and how they can spread the love in their daily lives.
My Review: This is a very heart-warming book. I received it on Valentine’s Day, and my kids and I have read it dozens of times. It would make a wonderful gift to a friend or family member because it offers many angles for the power of love. This book offers a lot of teaching potential as students explore abstract concepts and the idea of the metaphor. One thing, in particular, that I like about this book is that it resists the commercialization of love. As readers might see in the spread below, “love needs special presents” but those presents are homemade or expressed with kindness. This is a very touching book, and I think readers will find joy in it.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: I’d love to have students take an abstract concept (hope, grief, etc.) and create their own books to parallel this one. It would require a lot of brain power and would help students explore the idea of metaphors in their writing. I might even offer poetry that does this (e.g. “Hope is a thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson).
- What is love? Who do you love?
- How do you express your love?
- Write your own page to add to this book. How does it fit in with the other pages?
Read This If You Love: Love. And who doesn’t?
Water in May
Author: Ismée Amiel Williams
Published September 12th, 2017 by Abrams Books
Summary: Fifteen-year-old Mari Pujols believes that the baby she’s carrying will finally mean she’ll have a family member who will love her deeply and won’t ever leave her—not like her mama, who took off when she was eight; or her papi, who’s in jail; or her abuela, who wants as little to do with her as possible. But when doctors discover a potentially fatal heart defect in the fetus, Mari faces choices she never could have imagined.
Surrounded by her loyal girl crew, her off-and-on boyfriend, and a dedicated doctor, Mari navigates a decision that could emotionally cripple the bravest of women. But both Mari and the broken-hearted baby inside her are fighters; and it doesn’t take long to discover that this sick baby has the strength to heal an entire family.
Inspired by true events, this gorgeous debut has been called “heartfelt, heartbreaking and—yes!—even a little heart-healing, too” by bestselling YA novelist Carolyn Mackler.
About the Author: Ismée Williams is a pediatric cardiologist who practiced at the Columbia University Medical Center in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City for fifteen years. She currently sees patients at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. As the daughter of a Cuban immigrant, partially raised by her abuelos, her background helped her understand the many Maris she met along the way. Water in May is her first novel.
“Full of spot-on cultural texture and packing an emotional punch, this is an unusual take on the teen-pregnancy problem novel… Williams presents her experience in a way that demands not pity but respect while also reminding readers of Mari’s heartbreaking youth and innocence at unexpected times…Fierce and tender—and absolutely worth reading.” — Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW
“Mari is a deeply credible character, a girl who’s always spoiling for a fight, usually a physical one, but who’s turning that impulse into fighting for her baby. Williams, formerly a pediatric cardiologist at Columbia, brings vivid authenticity to the medical side of things, including the details of life with a baby in the NICU and the varying personalities of health care personnel.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“This novel is realistic and compelling, heartfelt and heartbreaking all at the same time. The author’s experience as a pediatric cardiologist brings authenticity to her writing as much as does her experience of navigating cultural barriers. Young adult readers will connect with Mari’s feisty personality, strength, and vulnerability.” — VOYA Magazine
Review: Mari’s story is one that isn’t often told. Mari is someone most people would see on the streets and would try to ignore because getting to know her would be getting to know how hard life in America can be. But Mari is also someone who is stronger than many of us will ever be. Her story is one that will make readers think about assumptions OR will help readers see a mirror into struggles they may be having in life. Although I hope teens don’t see Mari’s story as an invitation for a teenage pregnancy, I believe the truth of her hardships show the tremendous change a baby brings to life and will show that Mari’s decisions are made out of desperation when there are other paths she could have taken. Some who read the book have said they don’t like Mari as a character, but I found that when Mari was frustrating, it was because she was acting like what she is: a fifteen-year-old girl trying to find her place in this crazy world.
Teachers Guide with Activities and Discussion Questions written by me:
Guide can also be accessed through Abrams Books’s Resource Page.
**Thank you to Ismée Williams for finding me and allowing me to complete this guide!**
The Day You Begin
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Illustrator: Rafael López
Publication Date: August 28th, 2018 by Nancy Paulsen Books
Summary: National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson and two-time Pura Belpre Illustrator Award winner Rafael López have teamed up to create a poignant, yet heartening book about finding courage to connect, even when you feel scared and alone.
There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.
There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.
Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.
Kellee’s Review: A beautiful book about the power of differences while also acknowledging the challenges that feeling as if you don’t fit in cause. I loved that the story was not exactly narrative but instead of a snapshot into multiple kids’ lives to help show different examples of differences. We are all unique and that is what makes this book and our world beautiful!
Woodson’s lyrical language with Lopez’s collage and colorful illustration makes this book a piece of art that is going to bridge gaps, help students think about others, give readers a mirror and a window, and build empathy in all that read it.
Ricki’s Review: A great many kids and adults will find solace in the text. The writing and illustrations are stunning. Every once in a while, a book comes around like this one. It is simply magical. I don’t often purchase bound copies of my F&Gs, but I knew I needed to pre-order this one after I read it. It is a great book for teachers to read on the first day. The emotional impact is powerful. Everyone has felt excluded at some time or another, and this book digs deeply into that emotion and pushes readers to analyze that feeling and push through it to find strength and resolve. I am having a difficult time conveying the power of this book. I promise you will love it.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Building classroom community around kindness and empathy is essential in building a safe, trusting environment for our students, and this text will be a perfect addition to any text set you have that focuses on these topics. In addition to these social-emotional impacts, the text allows for talks of theme, mood, and author’s intent.
- What is one way that you feel very different than most people around you? How could people support you? How could you support others who feel different?
- What examples of people’s differences did Woodson highlight in the story?
- What was the mood for the first large portion of the text?
- What is the theme of the book?
- Why do you think the author felt compelled to write this book?
- Why are differences important in our community? Nation? Classroom?
Read This If You Love: Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, I Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoët, Normal Norman by Tara Lazar, Adrian Simcox Does Not Have a Horse by Marcy Campbell, What Can a Citizen Do? by Dave Eggers, Pink is for Boys by Rob Pearlman, Come with Me by Holly McGhee, We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio
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