Written By: Rebecca Elliott
Look at the cover and illustrations throughout the book before beginning your read-through. Ask your child these questions about their predictions about the story and what will happen:
What do you notice on the cover?
Why do you think they call her “Zoo Girl”?
How do you think this little girl became friends with the zoo animals?
[Flip to a certain page] What do you think is happening in this picture?
What is your favorite zoo animal? Why?
You can set the story up by asking about your child’s last trip to the zoo. Ask “What animals did you see that day? Did you see a lion? What did you learn about that animal?” If your child hasn’t been to the zoo recently, ask “What animal do you want to see the most? Why? What kind of habitat does that animal live in?”
As You Read
There is very little text in this story so work with what you’ve been given and really act out the text! For example, when reading the page on which the zoo animals first see Zoo Girl and ask, “A child?” Try to sound inquisitive and look as intrigued as you would imagine the animals to be. This will make the story more enjoyable for both you and your child and will give more life to the story and its characters.
To get your child more engaged, ask questions that connect the story with his/her life experiences. For example, when Zoo Girl realizes that she has been forgotten at the zoo and is all alone, ask questions like, “Have you ever been lost somewhere? How did you feel? What did you do when that happened? What do you think Zoo Girl will do?”
Summarize and Interpret
Be sure to ask your child questions at the end of the book to check comprehension and allow him/her to interpret what you have read together. You can ask questions like:
What was your favorite part of the story? Why?
How did Zoo Girl feel before she went to the zoo? What about when she got to the zoo?
Do you think Zoo Girl was scared when she was left behind at the zoo? Why or why not?
Why do you think the zoo keepers decided to keep Zoo Girl?
This book tells the beautiful, simple story of a little girl who finally finds a place and a family where she belongs. You can reinforce the story’s ideas of belongingness and family by asking, “Why did Zoo Girl feel that the zoo keepers and the animals were her family? What was different between the place she lived before and the zoo? Who is in your family, and what do they mean to you?” For younger children learning to identify emotions, this is also a wonderful book to show how one child can feel loved and happy. Try naming people and experiences that make your own child feel happy and practice “showing” happiness in the mirror with little ones.
Let your child get their hands dirty with this activity painting their favorite zoo animals! Be sure to have your workspace fully covered because things can get a little messy.
- Choose which animal you want to start with and select that animal’s base color.
- Use your paintbrush to paint that color onto your little one’s hand and stamp it onto a piece of white construction paper.
- Once the base has dried and your child cleaned off their hands, paint on the remain features for that animal. For example, if you are painting a turtle, begin with the green handprint and once it has dried, paint on the black shell with swirls on it as well as the face and toes.