At first blush, Dr. Seuss books aren’t for fifth graders, right? I mean, come on….Fox in Socks? Green Eggs and Ham? Fifth graders need something more substantial. More age appropriate. FALSE.
This week we have embarked on an author study of the famous and infamous Theodor Seuss Geisel. Oh, the books that we have ahead of us! Dr. Seuss is one of my favorite authors because he is so versatile and subversive! Learn more about the ‘story behind’ some of his stories here.
While reading Yertle the Turtle I asked them to reflect on how this story might relate to real life. Several students mentioned having a boss who is mean or a teacher who is mean like Yertle. Then we moved on to The Sneetches, and I again asked them to consider how this story could represent any part of real life. Immediately afterwards, several students shot up their hands and mentioned segregation and discrimination. Fifth graders can understand symbolism!
Still ahead we have If I Ran the Zoo and The Butter Battle Book. What are my kids learning through this author study, besides rising action, climax and falling action? They’re learning that words are powerful. They’re learning a person’s a person, no matter how small. And if you’re a person, no matter how small, and you know your way around a word or two, YOU ARE POWERFUL.
Settle down, skeptics. We are also using these books as vehicles for learning about good, old-fashioned reading and writing: rhythm, theme, character traits, problem/solution, inference, comparing and contrasting, engaging the audience, and so much more. We’re going to tackle a challenge similar to that faced by Seuss with The Cat in the Hat: writing a book using only 236 words. Oh, the thinks we can think!