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Book Review

Grade level: Kindergarten


English Language Proficiency: Beginners
Books: “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”; “Goodnight Moon” & “Brown Bear Brown What Do
You See?”

As a Pre-kindergarten teacher I have high regards for children’s literature. The Pre-

kindergarten program at my school follows the Pre-K for All’s research-based

Interdisciplinary Units of Study, an initiation of the Division of Early Childhood Education.

The Units of Study are evidence-based and developmentally appropriate for children

attending Pre-kindergarten. Every month a new unit or theme is explored with suggested

activities and books that revolve around an essential theme. As an educator I cannot

emphasize enough the amount of attention that is given to children’s literature in each Unit of

Study. In fact, each Unit of Study is accompanied by a list of foundational and supporting

texts to assist children in grasping new ideas and concepts. In addition, each foundational text

is presented with a set of questions based on Webb’s Depth of Knowledge Wheel. Teachers

are advised to start with Level 1 Recall questions and add more complex questions as they

explore and re-read a foundational text throughout the unit. Through this inquiry learning

approach educators support children’s engagement in critically thinking about the text

especially in forming connections and seeing how their lives relate to each story they come

across. Although, I work with pre-kindergarteners but for the purposes of this book review I

will work with Beginning ELL Kindergarten children. I will use an inquiry learning approach

to teach skills and I will look back at activities that I have done with my pre-kindergarten

students to help me create a plan of action for ELLs.


A book that I often read to my class is “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. It’s a

wonderful book with colorful imagery that children never get bored of. In the book a small

caterpillar emerges from an egg and eats everything in sight. Since, food is such a universal

concept children right away take a liking for the little caterpillar looking for something to eat.

Moreover, Carle’s work is fascinating because of its simple language, universal themes, and

wonderful illustrations. Beginner ELLs depend on visuals for making meaning from the text.

When there is a focus on illustrations or pictures in a book it is likely that ELLs will use this

to their advantage to display some sort of comprehension through nonlinguistic means. For

instance, before getting into the story, I would display the book and invite children to

describe the caterpillar. Does he look happy? Does he look sad? How do you think he feels?

How do you know? As I ask each question, I would make the facial expression associated

with the emotion. For example, if I am asking if the caterpillar is feeling sad then I would

make a sad face; happy-then I would make a happy face. Those ELLs who may not have the

linguistic skills yet to express how they think the caterpillar feels; through this activity will

be able to demonstrate their understanding by making facial expressions similar to the ones I

modeled. After taking a close look at the cover of the book and reading the title I would ask

students “Why do you think the caterpillar is so hungry?” This question will bring about the

universal concept of food and how we use it to fuel our bodies. Students will form

connections here with the book because they will all agree that they eat food when they are

hungry. Perhaps the caterpillar is so hungry because he didn’t have any food when he was

inside the egg. The key to comprehension here is to encourage students to form as many

connections as they can with the events in the story. This can lead to text-to-self discussion

where students can talk about their experiences.


Since this book is about the life-cycle of a butterfly students are required to know the

sequence or stages of development that takes place as a caterpillar turns into a butterfly.

Aside from displaying the images of each stage and labeling each stage; another strategy that

I would use in teaching key vocabulary and sequence of events is Total physical response or

TPR. TPR is an appropriate approach because it gives ELLs a chance to move around and

since they’re kindergarteners with limited attention span they will be highly motivated to

participate in this activity (Lado, 2006). Furthermore, students will engage in this extension

activity after we read the book. At this point students are familiar with vocabulary terms

associated with a butterfly’s life cycle. One of the stages in the life-cycle of a butterfly is the

formation of a chrysalis. After showing students images of a chrysalis I would model by

kneeling down on the floor with my head bowed down and my arms enclosed around my

head. I would look up now and then hold up the word “chrysalis” and say the word and then

go back into formation. As a whole group activity children will imitate my moves and the

way I say each of the words. I will model each stage and its associated name after we finish

reading the book.

“Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?” by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle is

another book that I read throughout the school year with my students. Its repetitive and

predictable text with resplendent art work is a favorite among children. My goal for the ELLs

when I am reading this book is to build fluency in reading. The text is already simplified and

one way to get students to build reading fluency is to provide opportunities for them to

engage in activities that build their reading pace and intonation (Lado, 2006). I would first

read the book as a read aloud, and then I would read it a second time encouraging children to

read along with me. As children chant or repeat the predictable phrases they will build their
reading fluency. The predictable text will give students an opportunity to work on their

predicting skills. For instance, during reading students can also predict and name the animal

that comes next.

Another strategy that I would like to work on with my ELLs is retelling. An extension

activity that builds retelling skills also strengthens students’ sequencing skills and vocabulary

(Lado, 2006). I will give students cut-up, color-coded sentence stripes from the book and

instruct them to put the mixed up Brown Bear story in the right order. I will support students

throughout the activity by teaching retelling strategies such as looking back in the story and

using pictures as clues to figure out the sequential order.

Margaret Wise Brown’s “Goodnight Moon” is one of my favorite books. The text is

simplified and easy to read. I will focus on sight words such as “and,” “the,” “in,” and “on.”

Students will be informed of the words before we start reading. Each word will be put on

display and we will go over it before the read-aloud. Students will be instructed to listen and

look for these words as we read the book. After we finish reading the book students will be

asked if they had heard or seen any of the sight words during the read-aloud. As students

respond we will look back at our chart displaying the sight words. We will repeat each word

and look back in the story to read the sentence with the sight word. The concept of rhyming

words can also be explored in this book. After clarifying that rhyming words are words that

sound the same but have a different meaning we can also engage students in finding rhyming

words in the story. For instance, during read-aloud we can ask students to stand up when they

hear rhyming words. This activity is a form of TPR and it’s highly engaging just right for

beginners.
These three books are appropriate and I have chosen them based on simplified language,

predictable nature, repetition and visuals. I have created activities by keeping in mind the

abilities and characteristics of my beginner ELLs.

References

O'Loughlin, J. O. (2015, November 6). Picture Books to Help ELLs Access Common Core

Anchor Reading Standards. Retrieved October 27, 2018, from

http://www.colorincolorado.org/blog/picture-books-help-ells-access-common-core-anchor-

reading-standards

Education and Early Childhood Development. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2018, from

https://www.ed.gov.nl.ca/edu/k12/curriculum/guides/esl/literature_esl

Lado, A. L. (n.d.). Using Picture Books with English Language Learners. Retrieved October

27, 2018, from https://us.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/49826_Lado_Ch1