Thursday, September 13, 2012

Pancakes for Breakfast

Tomie de Paola's Pancakes for Breakfast is a charming picture book that reminds us how much work the simple things in life, even pancakes, can be. 

Our central character wakes up early, hungry for pancakes.  She gets out the flour, but has no eggs.  She goes to the henhouse for eggs, but has no milk.  She milks the cow, and makes some butter to boot.  She now has everything she needs for pancakes!  Except maple syrup.  And everyone knows you can't have pancakes without syrup.  So out she goes, to buy some from her neighbor.  Alas, her pancake dreams are dashed by her naughty dog and cat who have ruined everything in the kitchen by the time she returns.  Luckily the neighbors are having pancakes too, so she gets to have her pancakes at last!

The fact that it is a wordless book allows each family to tell the story in a way that resonates most for them, by noticing different details.  And ideally, children get to be involved in making those decisions.  When they do so, they are honing their narrative skills.  These skills allow them to understand that each story has a beginning, middle and end.  As they learn to read, sharp narrative skills will clue them in quickly that they need to go back for information they missed, or help them to make smart guesses about unfamiliar words.  Don't be afraid to tell your own stories with books that already have words too!

This book gently reminds us that sometimes we have to work hard and be persistent to get what we want.  There can be a lot of little steps involved in something as delicious as pancakes (or as important as reading), but the pay off is certainly worth it.  Now, would you please pass the syrup?

Miss Kate

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