Focus Question: “How does knowing the parts of a fiction text help readers understand what they are going to read?”
Ask, “What do we call a person who writes a book?” (the author) “What do we call a person who draws the pictures in a book?” [IS.7 - Struggling Learners] (the illustrator) “Who are your favorite authors?” (Students will give various responses. Students may forget the author’s name, but they may remember the title. Identify the name of the author if possible.) “What books do you know that have great pictures?” (Students will have various responses.) If you have some of these books in your classroom library, put them out in the reading center. Make an “Our Old Friends” sign for these books.
Hold up the book Armadillo Rodeo for students to see. “Today we are going to talk about things we can learn about a book by looking at the cover and the title page.”
Ask, “What do you see on the cover of this book?” (words, an armadillo, boots that people are wearing, grass with dandelions)
You may wish to provide some background information about armadillos. [IS.8 - Background] Ask, “What do you know about armadillos?” (Students may offer information.) “What do we know about armadillos just by looking at the drawing of the armadillo on this cover?” (The armadillo looks as though it has a mask and a coat of armor. It has four short legs and a round body.) “Armadillos have scales that cover their backs, the top of their legs, their heads, and their tails. Even though they have short legs, they can move quickly. Their claws are sharp, and they use them for digging. Armadillos have poor eyesight. They use their ears and noses to find food and enemies.” [IS.9 - ELL Students]
Point to the title of the book and say, “The title of this book is Armadillo Rodeo. That is the name that the author chose for her book. What clues about the book can we get by looking at the pictures on the cover and reading the title of the book?” (The armadillo is at a rodeo. The people wear cowboy boots and jeans.)
Ask, “What do you know about rodeos?” (There are horses and cattle. There are cowboys. People ride horses.) “Rodeos are sporting events where people show their skills in riding horses, roping cattle, barrel racing, and other things that ranchers do.” [IS.10 - ELL Students]
Point to the author’s name above the title of the book and say, “The author of this book is Jan Brett. She is the person who wrote this book. Jan Brett is also the person who drew the pictures for this book. She is the illustrator of the book. Sometimes a book has an author and a different person who is the illustrator. But for this book, Jan Brett is both the author and the illustrator.”
Ask, “Have you ever written a book?” (yes) “Who drew the pictures for your book?” (I did.) “If you wrote the book and drew the pictures, you were the author and the illustrator, just as Jan Brett is for this book, Armadillo Rodeo.”
Turn to the title page and say, “This is the title page of the book. What do you see on this page?” (a picture of more armadillos, words) “Who do you think these other armadillos might be?”(probably other characters in the story)
Ask, “Did you ever make a picture or card for your mom or dad? Maybe you wrote the words ‘to Mom’ or ‘to Dad’ on the picture or card. You dedicated all your work on the card to a person that is special to you—your mom or dad.”
Say, “At the top of this page are the words ‘for Jason Merrill.’ This tells us that Jan Brett dedicated her book to a person named Jason Merrill. He must be a person who is very special to Jan Brett. She decided that her hard work writing the story and drawing the pictures were in honor of Jason Merrill.”
Say, “There is more information we can find on the title page. We can find out where and when the book was published. We can see that in 2004, Jan Brett received a copyright for her book. This means that no one else can use the pictures or words from this book without getting Jan Brett’s permission because everything in this book belongs to Jan Brett.”
Say, “We can also see on this page that a company named Puffin published this book. The company is located in New York City. [IS.11 - Struggling Learners] When we look at other Jan Brett books, we will have to see if that same company also published those books.”
Say, “Before we begin reading this book and enjoying the beautiful drawings of Jan Brett’s, let’s take a look at the back cover.” Show students the back cover and ask, “What do you see on the back cover of this book?” (a mother armadillo and her babies, more fancy cowboy boots) “This looks as if it is probably a scene from the book. Why do you think this is on the back cover?” (to give an idea of what the story is about)
Read aloud the book. Note: If this is a book students have not read before, give them an opportunity to confirm predictions. Place the book in the reading center so students can read it later. [IS.12 - Struggling Learners]
Find other books by Jan Brett, as listed in Related Resources.
Arrange students in groups of three or four. Ask a student from each group to choose one book. Have students look at the front and back covers and predict what these books may be about. Circulate around the room and ask students to point out the titles and authors of the books. You may wish to cover the titles of the books before students make their predictions. Read the titles to students to help them with their predictions. Ask, “What can we learn from looking at this title page? Where does it tell who published this book? What does it mean that the book has a copyright?”
Say, “Now it is your turn to make a cover for a book. Think of what the story of your book will be about and what the title of your book will be.” Provide examples such as the following: a dog goes to school (Fido’s Day at School), a bird gets out of his cage (I’m Free), a boy goes to a new school (John’s First Day)). Remind students that these are just examples. Encourage students to think of their own stories and characters.)
Hold up the sample cover that you have made and say, “At the top of your paper, write the title of your book. You can make your letters large and colorful. On the bottom of the paper, write your name. You are both the author and the illustrator of the book. In the middle, draw your character. You will probably want to draw your character in the story. Suppose you write about a bird getting out of its cage. You might want to draw a bird flying outside of its open cage in someone’s home.” If students need help writing the title, have them dictate it to you. Write the title on a sheet of paper for students to copy.)
Encourage students to share the covers of their books with the class.
- For students who need an opportunity for additional learning, point to a part of a book and ask them to identify it. (Example: author) Then ask, “What does an author do?” (writes books) Ask students to point to the title or the illustrator. Then ask, “What does this tell us about the book?” (the name of the book; who drew the pictures)