Written By: Mem Fox
Illustrated By: Steve Jenkins
Take a moment to look at the cover with your child before opening the book. Bring your child’s attention to the different animals by saying, “Look! There is a monkey and an owl and an elephant!” Be sure to point at each animal to make the connection between the name and the picture that you are looking at. For older children, ask them to name the animals that they see, as well as make the sounds for the ones that they may know like the monkey and the owl.
As You Read
A great way to make the story more engaging and fun for your child is by imitating the different animals as you read. For example, when you read “Perhaps you’re an elephant, wielding a tusk”, pretend you are an elephant by putting your arm up to your face as if it were a trunk and making elephant noises. Also, read the text as if you are actually asking your child these questions as the story is about discovering who s/he is. This will be sure to entertain your child and make the read-through more amusing for the both of you!
Help your child point to unfamiliar or interesting illustrations. Tell him/her the word for the object and encourage them to repeat it back or associate the sound with the object. Say things like, “Look, it’s a hippo. Can you say ‘hippo’?” For children who are already verbal, try asking simple questions like, “Where is the lion?” Make sure to get excited and applause when your child engages with you and the book!
Try asking questions about the book after you finish. Regardless of understanding, it’s helpful to encourage them to think about what they have just seen. For slightly older children, you can ask questions like:
Did you like the story?
Can you point to the zebra?
More likely than not, they will ask you to read it again, and again, and...again. Even though it’s slightly painful for parents, remember that repetition of books is very good for budding readers!
Activity: Stuffed Animal Circus
Supplies: Stuffed animals, string, a toy car or bicycle, and any other toys you want and you know your child loves!
All you need to do is collect your child’s animals and put them in a circle on the floor. Then tie the two ends of the string onto two stable objects so that it is taut. Collect your child’s animals and put them in a circle on the floor.
Sit in the center of the circle with your child and begin by introducing each animal by it’s name, animal type and animal noise. For older children, have them introduce each animal on their own. You can be as silly as you want and use funny voices to truly take on the character of the announcer. You can also put on circus music in the background to create the appropriate atmosphere.
You are ready to begin your circus. You can entertain your child by letting the stuffed animals walk the tight rope or ride the tiny car. Really any activity with the stuffed animals will count so make them dance, sing and put on a show! Older children can take over and put on the show for you so sit back and enjoy.