Talk About Books! Good News Bad News by Jeff Mack

We used to think that it was bad to interrupt the “integrity” of a picture book story by stopping to talk about the action, identify objects in the pictures, or generally have any kind of conversation that stopped the story’s flow. THOSE DAYS ARE GONE! Dialogic, or “conversational”, reading is the way to REALLY get the most out of a story – at least early literacy-wise.

When you talk about what’s happening in a story, ask your child open-ended (can’t be answered with one word) questions, and point out words and objects on the page, children grow their vocabulary and comprehension skills.

While any book can spark a conversation, some books ESPECIALLY lend themselves to talk: wordless or almost wordless books. Some of my favorites include Jez Alborough’s Bobo books Hug, Tall, and Yes, Chris Raschka’s A Ball for DaisyStephen Savage’s Where’s Walrus and Jerry Pinkney’s Lion and the Mouse

A newly released title by Jeff Mack offers LOTS of opportunities for early literacy learning. Good News Bad News is the story of Mouse and Rabbit, who want to have a picnic (good news!), but it starts to rain (bad news). It’s a series of opposites like this, and the only words in the story are good, bad, and news (until the end, when a “very” gets thrown in). Here are some ideas for sharing this book:

  • Since there are only 3 words in the story, a preschool-aged child might quickly learn them as sight words. They can at least  figure out the difference between good and bad, based on their starting letters. You can run your finger under the words, from left to right, and ask your child to read them with you. A recent study showed that teachers who began to point out instances of print in a story helped grow literacy skills even more.
  • Again, since there are very few words, you and your child will have to figure out the story based on the picture clues. Ask your child questions like: “what is happening here?”, “why is this good news?” and “what do you think will happen next?”. You can expand on what they say and add to it, to build vocabulary.
  • After reading the story, you might make your own good news/bad news story. Have your child draw a picture and then you can write their dictated story on the back. Good news! I got a new toy! Bad news. It broke. Good news! We fixed it! Bad news. It didn’t work the same.

What wordless books have you shared?

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