Many have blogged about The One and Only Ivan, by Kathryn Applegate. I won’t expand on the merits of this book because the conversation around this book has been immense. The bottom line for me is this…children love this book and this book is accessible to children. However, I really mean it when I say this, “It is a book that was born to be read aloud, first.”
The power of reading aloud in the classroom cannot be replicated even in within our homes, snuggled up near a fireplace with popcorn and cold drinks. This book begs to be read in our classrooms with children from all different backgrounds and creeds. The laughter is meant to be shared with your rug or desk partner and even the person in your classroom that is despicable on many days. After this read aloud children will check this book out, read and savor it again and again.
Shhh….I decided to take an aspect out of my intervention so that I would have time to read it to my 2nd graders, to try it out with my readers who struggle a bit, to see if they could sympathize with Ivan, Bob, Stella, Julia and Mac, to see if they could visualize what Ivan did with his ‘me ball’ to see if they would get the part about the Jama rescue story that was told by Stella (sorry for that long run on…I’m starting to write like 2nd graders talk). And guess what…they get it…they really do.
If you haven’t read it, a piece of history is told within this book. This part of the story actually happened at the Brookfield Zoo. Stella tells this story of Jama, who lived in a zoo and rescued a young human that fell into the gorilla pit. I asked my second graders if they thought something like this could actually happen. Two students said yes and two students said no. I then asked them how we could find out. They said, “Let’s google !” I responded with glee and we found out that indeed, a small child had fallen into the exhibit and a female gorilla protected this three-year old and gently presented him to her caretaker. This happened in 1996 and this young boy is now 20 years old and his gorilla protector still lives at Brookfield and is now 22 years old.
My second graders were elated, because we actually found footage of the scene that unfolded that day.
Our 2nd graders will be going to see this habitat in May. I’m sure they will want to see this exhibit first.
PS For those of you who don’t live in Illinois…this is the link to the story. I hope you have a chance to read about Ivan before the end of the year. It is a book no one should miss. Binty Jua was a hero on that day. Ivan is also a hero in this book. Thank goodness the Newbery award panel deemed this ‘award worthy’.