One of the benefits of reading books my kids love over and over, is I get all kinds of ideas about how a book can be used to develop reading and thinking skills. The book I've been thinking about lately is Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krause Rosenthal. (She's my new favorite, as I mentioned a few months ago when I wrote about Spoon.)
First of all, if you aren't familiar with this book: look closely at the cover.
Do you see the rabbit?
Do you see the duck?
What I love about this book is that it is engaging and thought-provoking for all ages!
Young children like the simple pictures, and if you read it with good expression, they are highly entertained by the debate. Is this a rabbit or a duck?
Beginning readers will enjoy reading and rereading this book to work on fluency.
But things really get interesting when you begin to look for the author's message. To find the central message, I always follow the basic framework from this chart. It's also a great framework for summarizing and retelling. (You can get it for free at TPT or TN.)
Let's see what happens to this apparently simple text when we use the framework.
What is the problem in the story?
The characters (who exist only as voices) disagree about which animal they see in a picture.
Teaching Note: This will probably be pretty fairly easy to figure out to begin with, but it will be difficult to put into words. Students will probably say, "'They' are fighting over whether "it's" a duck or a rabbit." Try to push them to identify the pronouns more specifically. In this case, the voices don't have names or faces, which will be a point of interest. It might be challenging for student's to identify "it" as a drawing or picture. They will tend to want to call it a duck or a rabbit, and it will be challenging to try to decide what to call it.
What do the characters do about the problem?
They each give supporting reasons for their opinion.
Teaching Note: Again, they'll be able to easily tell that the characters are arguing, but I find they have a hard time using the higher level vocabulary to more accurately describe what is happening. I usually have to suggest words. We work together as a class to get the statement as clear and concise as possible. It helps to write down the words (or type them onto a Smart Board.)
What do the characters learn?
They learn that the picture could be a duck or a rabbit. They are both right.
Teaching Note: Students should notice that the characters begin to see each other's perspective. It might be hard for them to recognize that both characters are correct. Some might be completely convinced the drawing is a rabbit, so they'll think that one character was right in the beginning and the other one was right at the end. Once someone points out that they can both be right most of the class will agree.
What does the author want you to learn?
There can be more than one correct answer to a question. What you see depends on your perspective.
Teaching Note: It's going to really difficult for young students to get to this point. This is why I think this text could be used with much older students than the ones I teach. To try to get primary kids to this point, I would emphasize that the drawing is what the characters learned about, but the author want's us to learn about LIFE. Using "in life" as a sentence starter will probably get most groups to something like: "In life different people think different things about stuff." I dislike the word stuff, so I would push them to try to think of a better word (situations? events?)
It will really start to sink in with some relatable examples:
Climbing trees: kids think it's fun, but parents are scared the kids will get hurt.
Rainy days: Some people are sad because they don't like going outside in the rain, but farmers are happy because they need rain for their crops.
As you can see, it gets really deep! Honestly, I think high school students could probably benefit from a discussion about this.
Lessons like this are my favorite part of teaching! It can take a lot of patience to guide a conversation like this, but I think every kid in the classroom can get something out of it. It's totally worth it.
I'd love to learn about some other apparently simple picture books that can get pretty deep.
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