Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book #213: A Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein

Image from BarnesandNoble.com
This cumulative book features a small boy and his pet giraffe and considers the question, “If you had a giraffe…and he stretched another half…you would have a giraffe and a half.” The turn of each page adds another rhyming element to the list – a rat in a hat, a rose in his nose, a bee on his knee – until the giraffe is precariously covered with animals and objects. Luckily, the second half of the book is devoted to removing one rhyme at a time, until the boy is left standing with a giraffe.

The tongue-twisting text is a challenge to read aloud, but you’ll win over the kids just by trying. There is no dialogue, just rhyming description of the actions. The book is illustrated in Silverstein’s classic black ink on white paper style. The giraffe himself is quite amazing; he dances, rides a bike, plays a flute, and all sorts of ungiraffe-like activities.

Pair this book with Giraffes Can’t Dance for a giraffe or “G” storytime. Check out the National Geographic Kids Giraffe Creature Feature page. Follow up with crafts like giraffe handprints (make the necks really long if you want to make giraffe and a halfs) or giraffe headbands.

After you read the book, ask the kids to name rhyming pairs they remember from the book. Then ask them what other rhyming pairs they could add to the story. Write the words on a whiteboard so kids can visually see the word pairs. You could also have them choose an animal to create their own book with rhyming pairs. This can be done individually or in groups. If possible, bring in a few rhyming dictionaries for kids to consult. Follow up with more books with rhyming pairs, such as The Magic Hat and The Hungry Thing.

Have a Shel Silvertein celebration (his birthday is September 25) and pair this book with Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros?


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