Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat


Written By: Roxane Orgill

Illustrated By: Sean Qualls


Before Reading

Explore Illustrations

Take a moment before beginning the story to look at the front cover and the illustrations throughout the book. Have your child make predictions about the story by asking:

What do you think will happen in this story?

Do you already know who Ella Fitzgerald is?

In which pictures does Ella look the happiest? What is she doing in those pictures?

This story is about a famous singer. How do you think she became famous? Do you think it was easy for her? Why or why not?

Why do you think the story is called “Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat?” What does it make you think of?

 

Biography

Tell your child that this story is a biography and ask them if they know what that means. If not, tell them that it is a story about a person’s life that was written by someone else. Tell them that this biography tells the story of Ella Fitzgerald’s life, a famous jazz singer in the 1920s and 30s. If you have the time, it can be a lot of fun to do some Google searches for images of the 1920s and 30s, especially those in jazz clubs, and even specifically of Ella Fitzgerald. Of course, listening to some of her tunes can also be a fun way to get in the mood for reading!


As You Read

Although your child is likely reading independently, we recommend trying this story as a read aloud, or at least parts of it. This story is all about young Ella’s love for dancing and singing so have fun and make your read-through musical as well! Whenever you get to a passage that is part of a song Ella sings, bust out your best singing voice and sing along with her! It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how the song goes, you can make it up and use the lyrics and the illustrations surrounding it to determine if it is an upbeat, happy song or a slow, sad song. For example, when Ella sings “I’m a rowdy dowdy that’s me. She’s a high hat baby that’s she…”, she is dancing and smiling and the kids around her are snapping, which would imply that the song is upbeat and fun.

Vocabulary Building

Encourage your child to stop when they get to a word that s/he doesn’t know. Give your child the chance to discover the meaning of the word by using the illustrations and words surrounding it. Some examples of new vocabulary words in Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat include:

1. SPROUTED

2. RAGGEDY

3. AMATEUR

Making Connections

Have simple comprehension checks to be sure that your child is keeping up with the story by asking, “How did Ella earn that ten dollars? What did she have to do?” You can also make connections to your child’s life by saying, “Ella loves to sing and learn new dance moves. How does singing and dancing make Ella feel? What is it that you really love to do? How does it make you feel?”


After Reading

Summarize and Interpret

Gauge your child’s understanding of the story by asking questions about the story such as:

What was your favorite part of the story? Why?

How would you describe Ella?

Why did Ella have to move in with her aunt Virginia? How did she treat Ella?

Why did she get sent to the school for orphans? What was it like there?

What happened when she went on stage for the first time?

How did people react when they heard Ella’s voice?

Why did Chick Webb not want to hire Ella at first?

This story shows how Ella Fitzgerald persevered in the face of her overwhelming hardships and how she overcame those hardships to become a famous jazz singer. Talk to your child about persistence and perseverance by asking, “When Ella was little, she said that she was going to be famous. What did she do to make her dream come true? What were some things that happened to her that could have prevented her from becoming famous? Why didn’t she stop?”


Activity: Learn to Scat!

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Ella Fitzgerald is a remarkable figure in jazz genre and a big element of her musicality was her scatting. Scatting is the improvised singing of nonsense syllables in jazz music. Some syllables that are commonly used are dooby, bip, wap, and bop. Watch videos of Ella Fitzgerald scatting and you and your child can try to mimic her sounds. The best part about scatting is that there are no wrong syllables, so you can sing whatever sounds you want! Your child will have a blast scatting along to not only Ella Fitzgerald’s songs but any other songs that they hear.

[Source: Scat Singing for Kids!]

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