It's been great fun in The Book Nook in my library this past week, sharing Kevin Henkes' Waiting with my kindergarten and first grade classes. This beautiful book gave me so much to talk about with my students!
I started by talking about the Caldecott Honor Henkes earned for the illustrations (he also won a Geisel Honor). We then went on to compare Henkes' other books with this new one. Most of the students were familiar with Chrysanthemum and Wemberly Worried, and a few knew about Kitten's First Full Moon. The colors in Waiting are much softer and more pastel than his previous books, so this led to a great discussion on how colors make us feel, and how they help us guess the tone of a book (adventurous? lots of action? quiet and thinking?).
Moving on to reading aloud, the story fell quickly into an easy pace. I made sure to point out the missing toy when it came up to focus the students on the pictures. I also pointed out the gifts of rock, acorn, and seashell. When we got to the wordless pages highlighting the "many wonderful" things the toys saw through the windows, it was the perfect opportunity to ask the students if time was standing still, or moving forward in this book.
When finished, I went back and asked about the missing toy that returned, how the toys were positioned lying down, the new toy that broke, the gifts from nature. How did that all happen? We agreed that the toys, who never venture far from the windowsill, were not moving around on their own like the ones in the movie "Toy Story". We used our inference skills, and concluded that there must be a person, likely a child, who does these things. There was an invisible character in this book!
I don't always pick so many details from a book to discuss, but this wonderfully written and illustrated story allowed me to do so without ruining the quiet, waiting tone of the book. Perfect for a fifteen-minute read-aloud in the library!