Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Repeat After Me

So when I first flipped through Chicky Chicky Chook Chook, by Cathy MacLennan, I think my reaction was, well, it's no Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. The story of a bunch of chickens, bees, and kittens getting caught in a rainstorm is told in lines of rhymey-rhymey nonsense like "Fizzy, fizzy, buzz, buzz, fizz, fizz buzz."

But today at storyhour, I used the book to illustrate this week's pair of opposites: wet and dry, and it worked brilliantly thanks to a kid who talks to himself. I'm not kidding. He has this running commentary going through just about everything, and today, as soon as I read the first line ("Chicky, chicky, chook, chook") he repeated it to himself, and then all the other kids did, too.

So we read the whole book like a call-and-response poem, and between lines, I could have heard a pin drop! It reminded me of seeing this Hatian playwright's one-woman show in college. She explained how storytelling in her culture always includes reactions from the audience, and in fact, a story starts with the teller saying krik!, and the audience answering krak!*

I've had kids repeat one line in a book before, but never the whole book, and I really liked the way it flowed. The other thing I liked was that when we finished the book, the kids looked at the adults who brought them and were like, You hear me read that book? I read that!

So I'm making a list of other books that could work that way. There are a couple of train ones, plus Vroomaloom Zoom ... I'll put others in the comments as they occur to me.

If you're like, isn't that a book? The answer is, yes. By Edwidge Danticat.

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