Book of the Week: Rachel Parker, Kindergarten Show-Off

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions. I hope you find this useful, and please leave a comment with any suggestions or additions!

Rachel Parker, Kindergarten Show-Off, by Ann Martin

Chances are, if you are of a certain age, Ann M. Martin means Baby-Sitters Club. Although she ended the series in 2000, she actually remains pretty active online, posting updates every few months to her Scholastic site. The biography posted there says she’s currently interested in writing books set in the 1960s.

If you’re interested in reading gearing-up-for-kindergarten books, you might want to touch base with Sarah Stock, because I know she’s been reading up on them lately. Plenty of great ones exist, but not many talk about someone moving to the class in the middle of kindergarten.

Conversely, plenty of books about students moving deal with the acquisition of new friends (including this year’s Battle of the Books novel Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Moving Day), but it’s a bit more rare to find one that looks at it through the lens of shifting classroom dynamics because of the addition of a new personality.

Last I checked with Bev, our transient rate has decreased to somewhere around 25-30 percent, but new class members is something bunches of our students can relate to.

There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggested lessons:

Comprehension

  • Predict what will happen, use text to confirm. Older students who may be familiar with the basic “Happy about new kid, disappointed about new kid, BFFs with new kid” structure could be encouraged to go deeper in their predictions. What will their fall-out look like? How will the reconcile? How will they move forward with their friendship? How will their relationship impact the class at large?
  • Infer and support with evidence. Neither Rachel nor Olivia admit that they’re jealous of each others’ talents and home lives, but their actions and dialogue reveal they feel otherwise. This might also be a good point to talk about a reliable narrator — how do we know that some of what Olivia says is actually exaggerated or incomplete?

 

Fluency

  • Use punctuation to enhance phrasing and prosidy. This is one of those rare picture books where there’s actually paragraph indentation, especially indents due to dialogue. It’d be useful to point this out during a shared reading passage, or to use a passage in a writing workshop conversation about conventions.

Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking!

Comments and constructive feedback are always welcomed. Please let me know if these lessons were useful in your class!

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