Written By: Chris Raschka
Take a moment to look at the cover with your child before opening the book. Bring your child’s attention to the two boys by saying, “Look! There are two little boys. Can you see the little boys?” To further engage your child, ask “Can you point to the little boy with the red circle on his shirt? Which boy is wearing brown pants?” For older children, ask them to describe the two little boys by asking, “What are some things that make these boys different from each other? What are they wearing and what do they look like?” This can help to engage your child and make a connection between the child and the book before reading the story. If your child is very young, point to each boy and tell him/her about what you see.
As You Read
There are very few words in this story so work with what you’ve got and be animated while reading! Be excited when reading, “Yo!” or be inquisitive when reading “Who?” You can also incorporate movement and gestures to add non-verbal communication between you and your child. For example, when the little boy says that he has no friends, slump your shoulders and look really sad and when the boys become friends at the end of the story, get really excited! For kids of any age, this is an incredibly fun book for joining in reading together.
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 boy. Can you say ‘boy’?” or “I see two boys jumping in the air! Do you see the boys jumping?” For older children, have them try to sound out certain words as you read together. For example, when you see the word “look” say, “Can you sound out the letters in this word? L-o-o-k” Make sure to get excited and applause when your child engages with you and the book!
Regardless of level of understanding, it is always helpful to ask questions about the book after finishing. This encourages your child to think about what they have just experienced with you. Questions might include:
Can you show me your favorite picture?
Did you like the story?
Do you like your friends like the little boy likes his new friend?
The central theme in this story is friendship, so it is great to bring your child’s attention to how the sad little boy found a new friend by saying “Wow, that is nice that the boy found a new friend!” To make a real life connection, ask your child about a time when s/he has made a new friend by asking, “Can you think of a time when you made a new friend? How did you meet?” If your child is not yet verbal, you can still engage him/her by pointing to the boys in the story and saying, “This is a boy. He is happy. This is another boy. He is sad,” or, “You have lots of friends. I love your friend ____, and s/he loves you, too!”
Activity: Paper Bag Pal Puppet Show!
Supplies: Brown paper lunch bags, yarn, construction paper, glue, colored pencils or markers
1. Use your colored pencils and markers to draw faces onto the flaps of the paper bags.
2. Glue yarn onto your puppets' heads to give them hair.
3. Cut out shirts and pants from construction paper and draw fun designs onto your puppets' clothes. You can also cut out arms and legs and glue them onto the bags.
4. Gather an audience, hide behind your sofa or a table covered with a cloth, and let the show begin!
For very young children, you can create these puppets and then put on a show for them. For older children, let them help you make the puppets and you can put on the show together! You and your child can act out the story of Yo! Yes? It doesn’t have to be word for word and you can add dialogue if you’d like. You can also continue the story and show what the boys do after they meet. Do they go to the park and play? Do they talk about their likes and dislikes? Here is an example of a fleshed out portion of the story:
Puppet A: Yo! What’s up?
Puppet B: Nothing really. I’m just sitting here by myself.
A: Why is that? Why aren’t you playing?
B: Well I don’t have any friends to play with so it gets pretty lonely sometimes.
A: Well look at me! I’m talking to you. We can be friends and we can play together!
This is a great way to engage your child’s imagination and allow them to incorporate what they have read in this story to playtime!