I love these two books by Anthony Browne.  He has so much fun describing parents through the eyes and awe of young children. Children love his descriptions and the art is wonderful. It motivates hem to draw and read as well.

I usually use both books  for Think Alouds with Kindergarten and Grade one for determining importance. Think of the six steps to a Think Aloud

I explain to them that the author has one thing he really wants them to understand by the time they have finished the story. He has a purpose for writing the book. The book probably started with one big idea. He is going to give them lots of details but at the end of the story he wants you to understand one thing in particular about “dad” . At the end of the story I am going to ask you what the big idea was about “dad”. I don’t want a list of everything that happened in the story.

I read the story. My Dad

At the end of the story I ask the children to sit knee to knee and eye to eye and share with each other what they think the big idea was. What did the author really want us to understand about his dad.

(knee to knee and eye to eye is a process Debbie Miller talks about in her books. It requires practice  but once the kids are comfortable with the process, it is a great way for kids to share their thinking. We all know that there is never enough time to listen to everybody ,but this way everybody has a chance to speak. After a moment of sharing, we come back together and share our thinking.)

Often the children want to give you the nitty gritty details, but the big idea is how much he loves his dad and that his dad loves him.

Repeating the process with My Mum leads to a feeling of success for the children and the beginning of understanding what determining importance means in fiction writing. This story leads to many other strategies-making connections to their parents,visualizing their parents doing some of the goofy things in the story,asking questions…

Have the children look at books of their own and determine what the “big idea is in their book”> This takes a lot of practice and you need to keep modeling it. If you have older students who need help with this strategy it is an entertaining book to start with.

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