Giraffes Can't Dance

Tips for "Giraffes Can't Dance, " by Giles Andreae  and Guy Parker-Rees

As you read:

  • This book introduces several new terms to us. As you reach these terms, incorporate discussion around them. For example, the word "buckled," is likely unknown to your child. Help him/her understand what it means with context clues. Look at the image, take guesses. And then physically show them what it means for your legs to buckle! There are other fun dance terms like Tango, Waltz, and rock'n'roll that will be fun to explore with your child.

Extending the Story:

  • Now that you have discussed the different types of dancing and music with your child, visit your favorite free music streaming service (or your own device), and have a dance party to many genres of music. Try Chuck Berry for rock'n'roll, and listen to the many sounds of the cha-cha, the Tango, and other dances. You might even look to YouTube to see more formal ballroom dancing for some of these, but just listening to the music and making these connections with the book is powerful for a child.

Other Useful Tips

Before You Begin Reading, Preview the Story and Discuss

Take a moment to explore the cover and illustrations and give your child a chance to make observations and predictions before beginning the read-through. Throughout this guide, there are several questions and prompts that you can use as you read, so feel free to spread them out across multiple readings. Use prompts and questions like:

  • What is happening on the cover?

  • What do you think the story will be about based on the title and the cover?

  • {Flip to an illustration} What do you think is happening in this picture?


As You Read, Explore New Vocabulary

Whether you're reading the story or your child is reading it him/herself, take time to stop whenever s/he comes across a new word. Read the word slowly several times as you underline the word with your finger. Then, ask your child what s/he thinks the word might mean. Instruct him/her to use the words and illustrations surrounding it to try and glean the meaning. Work together to discover the word's meaning, and then try to integrate it into your daily conversation to help reinforce these new vocabulary words. 


After Reading, Make Connections

To ensure comprehension, ask your child about what happened in the book. Who were the main characters, and where were the primary settings? What happened and why did those things happen in the story? Ask your child the following questions to further explore his/her understanding of the book:

  • Did you like that story? What was your favorite part? Why?

  • What lesson do you think the main character(s) learned?

  • What does {vocabulary word} mean?

  • {Discuss alternatives to the storyline} What would have happened if...?

  • I wonder why...