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, I think it includes wonderful lessons for parents too. Some of them might make story time at your house (and mine) more fun than a wild rumpus!
1. Read With Enjoyment
When you read with enjoyment your child learns that reading is fun and pleasurable. This helps your child develop positive associations with a book, and a greater connection with you. A book like Where the Wild Things Are is easy to read with enjoyment thanks to both its relatable topic and simple prose.
However, keeping the enjoyment alive in your voice can be tricky when you are reading it (or any other favorite book) for the 447th time! It’s good to know then that re-reading a book is valuable — it boosts vocabulary development, phonemic awareness, and story comprehension.
2. Add a Little Drama to Story Time
You can add a little drama to story time 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 family loves growling with the wild things, “Oh, please don’t go — we’ll eat you up — we love you so!”
Creating a sense of drama as you read together helps your child associate books and reading with pleasure and good, old-fashioned fun.
3. Explore the Feelings and Emotions Evoked in the Story
Books provide easy openings for talking to your child about emotions and feelings in various contexts, helping your child in developing emotional intelligence.
Explore the emotions of Where the Wild Things Are together by making the faces you would make if you felt like Max — mad, out of control, lonely, loved or relieved. Or, ask your child when was the last time he felt each of the emotions from the story.
4. Ask Questions About What You’ve Read
Talking with your child about the story and asking questions about what you’ve read provides a simple way to gauge his level of comprehension of the story. 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?
- What do you think was the most exciting part of the story?
- Do you have a favorite illustration?
5. Respond Creatively to the Story
Books can provide a wonderful 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.
- Making a Max and some Wild Things figurines by decorating toilet rolls and taking turns re-telling the story.
The great thing about all these tips is that they will work just as well for almost any picture book you choose for your child's read aloud time. Choose one, two, or try all five, and add some fun, book-inspired learning to your next story time.
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