Oscar's Half Birthday


Written By: Bob Graham 


Before Reading

Explore Illustrations  

Look over the cover and illustrations and have a quick discussion about your child’s initial thoughts on the book before diving into the story. Ask questions such as:

What do you notice on the front cover?

What is a half-birthday? What is your half birthday?

What do you think Oscar’s family will do for his half-birthday?

{Flip to a certain picture that grabs your child’s attention} What do you notice in this picture?

To get your child thinking about birthdays, ask, “When is your birthday? What did we do for your last birthday? Did you like it? What do you want to do for your next birthday?”


As You Read

Be sure to read slowly to your child so that s/he can fully absorb what you are reading. Also encourage participation in the reading to keep him/her get more engaged. For example, when Oscar’s family sings happy birthday and the other people join in, say, “Help us sing happy birthday to Oscar! Happy Birthday to you…”

Vocabulary Building:

Inspire vocabulary acquisition by encouraging your child to pause the read-through when s/he comes across a new word in the story. Allow him/her to discover the meaning using the words and illustrations surrounding it. Examples of new words in Oscar’s Half Birthday are:

1. GLINTING

2. ILLUMINATING

3. SMATTERING

Try to incorporate these and any other new words into your daily conversation so as to reinforce them in your child’s vocabulary.

Making Connections:

Make the story more relatable by asking questions about particular parts of the story that relate to your child’s own life. For example, in the beginning of the story when Oscar’s family can’t wait for his first birthday and throw him a half birthday instead, ask “Have you ever been so excited about something that you couldn’t wait anymore and had to do it early?” Good examples of this could be eating dessert before dinner or opening a present on Christmas Eve. You can also ask, “Why couldn’t you wait? Did you have fun?”


After Reading

Summarize and Interpret:

To end your reading time, ask some questions about the book you have just read to let your child reflect on the whole story. Ask questions like:

What was your favorite part of the story? Why?

Why did the family have a half-birthday for Oscar?

Where did they have the party?

Did Oscar and his family have fun at the half birthday party? Why did they have fun?

You can incorporate questions about the greater theme of community by asking, “Why did everyone join in when the family started singing Happy Birthday to Oscar? Do you think the party was more fun because the people in the community celebrated with them? Why or why not?”


Activity: Stuffed Animal Half-Birthday Party

Adapted from Kids Activities Blog

Supplies: Stuffed animals, pretend (or real) snacks for the party, two different sized cereal boxes, any colored paper, tape, markers or paint, candles, any party games you want (musical chairs, pin the tail on the donkey, etc), and music

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Who says you have to wait to host your own half birthday as well. If it isn’t near your child’s or your half-birthday, have your child choose a stuffed animal to celebrate and let the games begin!

  1. First, prepare the cake by wrapping each cereal box with the colored paper and taping it down. Then, use paint or markers to add designs and decorations to your cake. Add the finishing touches on the cake by gluing or taping candles on top.
  2. Set up your party area by placing out the different party games and snacks. Really any party game will do so whip out the Twister and turn on the party music.
  3. Next let your child wrap his/her small toys using the colored paper for the stuffed animals to present to the birthday person or animal. (This is also an exercise in sharing where your child presents his/her own toys to someone/something else).
  4. Next, invite your child’s stuffed animals to the party and set them up in a circle around the pretend cake and snacks. Now, it’s time to let the festivities begin! Sing Happy Half-Birthday to the birthday honoree and have fun dancing to the music and playing the different party
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