Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is a celebration of childhood, the wonder of imagination, and unfaltering parental love. And while children the world over connect with this story of a rebellious child feeling more than a little wild, it offers wonderful lessons for parents too! Make your next read-aloud more fun than a wild rumpus with these tips.
1. Read With Enjoyment
When you read with exhilaration your child learns that reading is pleasurable while developing positive associations with a book—and a greater connection with you! A tale like Where the Wild Things Are is easy to read aloud with gusto thanks to relatability and simple prose. But, if keeping that zeal is challenge upon the hundredth-something read, it's good to know then that re-reading a book is incredibly valuable for your reader: It boosts vocabulary development, phonemic awareness, and story comprehension.
2. Add More Drama to Story Time
Infuse a touch of drama with these three techniques: 1) use interesting character voices, 2) adjust the volume of your voice as you read, and 3) use a dramatic pause or two to good effect. When reading Where the Wild Things Are, my own family loves growling with the wild things, “Oh, please don’t go — we’ll eat you up — we love you so!” Adding a bit of theatrics helps your child associate books and reading with entertainment and good, old-fashioned fun.
3. Explore the Feelings and Emotions Evoked in the Story
Books provide easy openings for talking to kids about feelings and emotions in various situations, helping you to foster their (ever-developing) emotional intelligence. Explore the emotions conveyed in the book by making the faces you'd make if you felt like Max — mad, out of control, lonely, loved or relieved. Or, ask when was the last time he felt each of the emotions from the story.
4. Ask Questions About What You’ve Read
Talking about the story and asking questions about what you’ve read provides a simple way to gauge his level of comprehension of the tale. You might include questions like:
- How do you think Max feels when his mother sends him to his room?
- Do you think a forest really grew in Max’s room? If not, what do you think really happened?
- Max wanted to be where “someone loved him best of all." Why is it important to feel loved "best of all"?
- Do you think the Wild Things are real? What's the difference between things that are real and things you dream about or imagine? What sort of things do you dream about?
- Do you have a favorite illustration?
5. Respond Creatively to the Story
Books can provide a springboard for creativity. Your child's creative response can be as simple as a drawing or a painting inspired by the story. For Where the Wild Things Are you could also try:
- Re-reading the story and, as you read, taking turns to act out the parts of Max and a Wild Thing.
- Creating a Wild Thing mask from a paper plate and scraps of paper or fabric.
- Making crowns and hosting your very own wild rumpus by dancing together to your favorite music.
The great thing about all these tips is that they work for almost any picture book you choose to read-aloud with your child. Choose one, two, or try all five, and add some fun, book-inspired learning to your next story time.
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