Do you ever start a read-aloud and realize that, while it seemed to be a perfect set-up/story/time/etc for you, it just wasn’t really right for your audience? I’m guessing the answer is yes… If it’s not, then can you share all of your secrets with us? For the rest of us, rest assured that you’re not alone! I’d been wanting to write about rethinking your read-aloud expectations for a while, and then when I came across Too Many Frogs! by Sandy Asher, illustrated by Keith Graves, I thought this might be the perfect picture book to illustrate this point.
Too Many Frogs! tells the tale of Rabbit, who lives a very routine life by himself, loves his life, and enjoys a book each night before bed. Until, one night when he settles in to read, and is interrupted by “a knock-knockety-knocking” at his door… Where he finds Froggie. Froggie also loves a good book each night before bed. But, his enthusiasm and enjoyment really through Rabbit out of his bedtime story routine. Froggie demands to come in and listen, he insists on making a snack, he takes lots of time to get “comfy-cozy” for the story… and he even invites other frogs to Rabbit’s house to listen! Absolutely fed up, Rabbit asks Froggie to leave and settles in for his nighttime story, when he realizes that even though his story is good, even very good or exceptionally good, something is missing.
Have you figured out the connection yet? Froggie was on to something! While Rabbit’s routine nighttime story was always good, his inflexibility (some of us out there may be a bit rigid about our read-aloud routines…) prevented his story time from being even better.
So next time your read-aloud doesn’t meet whatever expectations you’ve set for it as an adult, try to find your inner Froggie and see if you can change course, just a bit. Maybe…
- Your kids need a snack while they listen. (Side note– our girls will listen to stories for incredibly long stretches of time while they eat… it’s by far our most predictable read-aloud time! You can read more about that here.)
- They’re not quite comfy-cozy enough. Change your location, get some blankets, find some pillows…
- They need friends or siblings! Maybe this is the summer you start a neighborhood book club, or you scrap one-on-one read-aloud time and pile your whole family on the couch together instead.
- (not from the story…) Try reading a different time of day instead. Kids and adults alike are both tired when bedtime rolls around (and, let’s be completely honest, sometimes we’re just ready to be done with parenting and sit in peace and quiet for a bit…). Maybe reading over breakfast or right when they get home from school will be just what your family needs!
Have you ever had a read-aloud time just derail horribly from your expectations? What did you do about it?