This is how it works. Each month I send a list of four contenders to a half dozen of our guest contributors that are caregivers of or regularly work with K-2nd grade students. I do my best to select a variety of levels and topics for readers at different stages of the learning to read process. The focus of this series is on the experiences and observations from kid readers and their grown-up contributors.
A big shout out to Jamie Chowning and DaNae Leu for all their hard work sharing, observing, and collecting feedback from the kids in their lives. This time approximately 80 first and second graders participated. About 20 kids read each title and most kids read just one of the titles, mostly because there was a limited time frame for reading.
I Want to Be a Doctor
The plot was the major discussion point for most kids. Many of the comments they wrote on their feedback sheets mentioned plot points. One reader summed up the whole book, “Somewone got hert and they got beter” [sic]. “The dokdors” [sic], as one kid wrote, were a highlight for several kids (interestingly, Doctor proved to be a tough word for three readers). Another reader mentioned they liked the x-ray machine. Several kids mentioned that this was a fun book.
On the other hand, many kids lamented Jack’s broken foot and pointed to it as the thing they didn’t like about the book, “his feet brok” [sic], “I like it all I don’t like it when Jakc bokn his foot” [sic], “I did not like win he fle oof the bed” [sic]. There were also a number of tricky words that tripped up readers:
- Mrs. Lopez
- Dr. Lopez
Thanks to DaNae Leu for
gathering this feedback!
|See Pip Flap book cover|
28 kids read what one grown up contributor called the “safest bet” of this month’s four titles. The contributor noted that the book was, “Too easy for some, just right for others.” Readers were excited to hear there were additional Adventures of Otto titles, and nearly all of them liked the book and found it easy to follow. Even the handful of kids who said they wouldn’t want to read this title again, said they would read a sequel.
Backing up our contributors observations, there were just a handful of challenging words-- Otto, Pip, Flap, Fly. However, Milgrim’s intentional repetition throughout means that even though kids struggled initially, they were given plenty of opportunities to practice and gain confidence with these words.
Overall, this book seemed like a solid hit for many kids. One reader even felt it was too short! Here's a sampling of their comments:
- “It was funny and fun.”
- “Flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap.”
- “Robot I like.” [sic]
- “The mouse was triinge to fly” [sic]
- “I liked that whe pip flew high in the sky” [sic]
Tiger vs. Nightmare
This graphic novel was read by 41 kids with three quarters of them giving it 5 stars out of 5. As both our grown up contributors this month mentioned, this 64-page title falls towards the upper end of the K-2nd Geisel range.
One grown up contributor noted the cover appeal of this title. The Geisel is notable among ALSC awards as being the only award to take kid appeal, including whether or not the cover makes them want to read the book, into account in final discussions.
The story itself seemed to be engaging for most readers. Some kids loved the scary parts--“I like it because I like monsters and I like when the monster has a sword and shield ... And there was fighting.”--while others found those parts too “skeree” [sic]. One grown up contributor wrote, “As an adult, I was seeing a sweet friendship and teamwork story. I was surprised that my older child found it scary, because he doesn't strike me as easily frightened in general, but he did. As a librarian, on the strength of his opinion, I would ask if the child liked scary stories before recommending it. It's a great find for those (like my younger child) who do!”
Many kids needed help 1-5 times sounding out words, including the following words noted as difficult:
Positive comments included:
- “The monster”
- “The words”
- “I like the starting”
- “It was fun to read. I loved it.”
Will this graphic novel garners Geisel love this year? That could depend on how much weight the committee places in kid and cover appeal, as well as how they interpret the criteria regarding age range.
Unlimited Squirrels in
I Lost My Tooth
Out of the 65 kids who read this book, the first in a new Mo Willems series, only 16 of those kids gave it fewer than 5 stars out of 5. It would seem that Willems’s reputation precedes him. A grown up contributor shared that this book was enjoyed by most, and yet “finished by few in the time allotted.” Many kids were excited by thoughts of a sequel. One even suggested a title: “Unlimited Squirrels in Shark Time.”
Kids were effusive in their feedback:
- “It has facts.”
- “They think the tooth is a baby”
- “That it was funny!! Ha ha ha”
- “It was kind of like a activddy it was really fun.” [sic]
- “I like wen they scremd” [sic]
- “It was soooo funny. I would give it 10000 stars.”
- “We will take it from here zoomy.”
The word play was both a pro and con, depending on the child. One grown up contributor observed, “The vocabulary isn't all that challenging, especially in the main story, but we enjoyed it as a change to practice with wordplay.” However, there were a number of challenging words for other kids:
- Emote Acorn
Squirrel was cited as difficult to sound out by 9 kids, more than any other word in any book this month. Readers spelled squirrel as “sthrabares” and “squlrr”, further illustrating that this is a tough word! The squirrels also showed up in the comments about what kids didn’t like:
- “How the squirrels talked”
- “To menee wrds but it was still fun” [sic]
- “It had to many squirrels” [sic]
Could this series be the start of more Geisel love for Mo Willems books? It would seem that the sheer enthusiasm for this title could give it an extra push on the discussion table, however the difficulty of the word “squirrel” alone could give committee members pause.
So that’s what kids have to say this month! What are your kids saying about these books? Let us know in the comments. We also invite you to share kid feedback on any of this year's contenders in this comments section of the title's post.