Thank you Lindsey Roberts, for the reflection and for the story about your student.
Emberley, R., & Emberley, E. (2009). Chicken little. New York: Roaring Brook Press.
This story fits within the genre of traditional literature, because it is a folktale—a story that has been passed down for generations. There are two authors attributed to this story, because they have re-told the classic story in their own way.
The story is filled with bright colors to support the hysteria that the chicken is feeling—as he is convinced that the sky is falling. The jagged lines also support his feeling of chaos. Additionally, doublespread illustrations are used throughout the book. At the end, a page folds out, and the illustration actually spans across three pages! In regard to the authors’ word choice, lots of repetition is used—making it wonderful for young children. Such repetitive stories are also called cumulative tales (Brown, Tomlinson, & Short, 2011). I read this to my class of kindergarteners, and they quite naturally began to read along with me. Because of this, they were completely engaged in the text. Onomatopoeias are used to represent the sounds made when the chicken and his friends run into new characters. “Bonk! Ack! Oop! Eep!” These words are also written in very large font for extra emphasis. My kids loved calling them out with me.
This story could easily be made into a readers’ theatre! The lines could be simplified depending on the ability of the readers. Every time I have used readers’ theatre with my students, they have loved it. They take such pride in themselves as they read their lines and hold the simple props they’ve made. I think it would also be interesting to read other versions of this classic story as well. Students could complete a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast different versions of the tale, which is a higher level skill. The level of support given by the teacher would depend on the ability of the students.
Here are some questions I asked my students after we read the story together:
1. Why did the chicken think the sky was falling?
2. If you were one of the other ducks, would you believe the chicken and tag along? Why or why not?
3. How did the fox trick the animals?
4. What do you think made the fox sneeze?
5. Can you think of a time when you were wrong about something?
6. What would you do if you thought the sky was falling?