Yesterday I had the great privilege of reading to Mrs. Andrea Givens’ fourth grade class at Miller County Elementary for Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’ Birthday! I selected Miss Hunnicutt’s Hat by Jeff Brumbeau. This is a delightful story that is a wonderful read-aloud book. The illustrations by Gail de Marcken are truly awesome. The children responded with great interest and laughter each time I revealed a new illustration. Miss Hunnicutt’s Hat lends itself to a great prop too. It just calls out for the reader to wear her own special hat with a chicken, or two or three, on top.
I love reading aloud to groups of children. The challenge of selecting a preface to the story that will grab the attention of the children and spur their interest is a task I carefully spend time doing. In this case I decided to talk about wearing hats as a child and royalty. I find that children love to hear about what life was like in the reader’s childhood and it held true this time too. Reading with expression is a must when reading aloud. I always practice numerous times before I read. My practice sessions are always aloud, wearing or using any props, and standing. My husband no longer questions what I am doing when I am standing in a room alone reading aloud!
While reading, I like to make sure children know the meaning of words and ask an appropriate number of questions to ensure they understand the content. This can be tricky because I do not want to disturb the flow of the story. I carefully select the words and questions that I feel are most pertinent. The problem is remembering which questions to ask while reading the book in front of a group. Dawn Shepard, a reading coach mentioned in an earlier posting, provided me with an answer to this issue. I now pepper my book with post-it notes containing enough words to serve as my reminder.
Prediction is a skill included in state reading standards that must be taught explicitly and practiced regularly. Miss Hunnicutt’s Hat is perfect for practicing prediction. There are several places in the book that a prediction question is appropriate and allows for a wide range of responses. When the pages are turned, there is the ‘what comes next’ of this book. Since there are no wrong answers to questions about what the children think might come next, even the most timid child is likely to answer. The range of creativity in the group quickly surfaces with these questions and answers. In Miss Hunnicutt’s Hat, no one predicted the last hat that Mr. Brumbeau wrote about and it brought a great tidal wave of laughter.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”