Friday, August 26, 2011
Many of us are preparing for or already embarking upon a new school year. I shared recently about my efforts to brush up on B’s preschool skills. I have to admit I felt a twinge of regret when B signed his name to a piece of artwork and I noticed his writing skills had suffered for lack of practice this summer. However, there is something special that makes summer unlike any other time of year, and it’s not just the weather. The break from school, the loosening of routines, and the increase in life experiences all contribute to some cognitive stretches that just might not occur within the day-to-day of the school year.
In my mind, one of the most magical parts of summer is the possibilities. New places to see on vacation, time for relationships to grow, witnessing the growth of a garden, not knowing what to expect is part of the excitement. Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s What if? uses simplicity and suggestion to challenge readers to consider the possibilities and even to create their own version. There are a total of six words used in the story: two are in the title, and the others are and, then, but, and or. The story (or stories) is based on the premise that a boy playing on the shore loses track of his beach ball and it is enjoyed by two seals. Then, through captivating watercolor illustrations and leading questions, Seeger develops three different storylines. When a third seal comes along, will the first two keep him out of their game, swim away when he arrives, or include him in the fun? While the illustrations will reveal Seeger’s take on each possibility, you’ll enjoy prompting your child to make suppositions about the coming events and their effects before you turn the pages. “What ifs” can become tiresome and grating when you’re the parent who has been responding to them all day, but what-if questions help children develop an understanding of the world around them, determine cause and effect, and build creative muscles as they consider their own version of the results.
Appropriate for: toddlers, preschoolers, primary grades.
photo courtesy RambergMediaImages via Flickr