I've been a Teacher-Librarian for 4 years. If it was my 40th year in the library, I'm sure I would still be reading this book to kids of all ages. It's an important lesson that I truly believe in as a reading mentor. It's important for student and teachers to hear and practice.
For one thing, this book is a parody of a old classic - Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. If you are studying Fairy Tales and discussing fractured Fairy Tales, this is a good one. It also has good jokes and puns and I love to see what students 'get' the jokes. I love it when one kid laughs out loud. Librarians are very much like stand up comedians. We are looking and waiting for a laugh!
I read this book mainly for it's reading lesson. I firmly believe that reading is a very personal activity. Students often feel like they need to be reading a certain kind of book. A big book, a non fiction, a novel, a long book, a book with no pictures... I stress during this lesson that they MUST look for a book that is just right for them. I tell students what books I don't enjoy reading, but I also tell them that there are some books that are just too hard for me.
There is a very simple activity that I do with this book. It is the 5 - finger test that Goldisocks talks about in the book. Sometimes a book is too easy. This is not ideal. Readers become better readers by challenging themselves with harder text and words that they don't know. If it's too easy, they won't become a better reader.
Sometimes a book is too hard. If there is too many words in the book that a reader doesn't know, the book will not make any sense and will be hard to comprehend. If they don't understand it, they won't enjoy it and will eventually abandon the book. Simple. Young readers have to get over the fact that they may not be able to read the books that others are reading. Another life lesson.
So when readers look for a 'Just Right' books they need to think like Goldisocks (and Goldilocks too). She couldn't eat the porridge that is too hot, can't sleep in a bed that is too hard and can't sit in a chair that is too small. The book has to be just right - not too hard and not too easy. A couple words that are new on each page is ok, but the text has to be understandable. The test is done on one random page in a novel or a couple of pages in a small picture book. They hold up one fist. Each word they don't know or can't pronounce means a finger goes up. Five or more fingers and it's too hard, no fingers up and it's too easy. A 'Just Right' book has 2-3 (at the very most) hard or new words.
During this lesson we also discuss that 'Just Right' books are meant to make them a stronger reader. Does this mean that you should never again read a too easy book? No way! I make sure I tell students that revisiting those old favourites is so important and so much fun. I still pull out my 'Little House' books, even though I can practically recite them by memory. It's the easy books that give us comfort and confidence. BUT when we want to improve our reading, we look for those 'Just Right' books.
Librarians! Make sure you are teaching kids HOW to find a 'Just Right' Book!!