Slice of Life: It’s Allegorical

(This is a post for the Slice of Life, facilitated by Two Writing Teachers throughout March and every Tuesday during the year. You come write, too.)

Yesterday was the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Theodore Geisel has local connections to our area (Springfield, Massachusetts, is right down the road) and so we often do play up celebrations around the author. Yesterday, with all of my sixth grade classes, I read aloud The Butter Battle Book. Only a handful had ever heard of it before, and a few had read it.

The Butter Battle Book is not his best book — I still vote for The Lorax just about any day of the week — but it does give me a chance to do a mini-lesson around “allegory” — a pretty complex literary term for sixth graders. But after discussions around the Cold War, and global geopolitics both of the past and present, we dove into the story of the Yooks and Zooks who hate each other because of how they butter their bread.

Reading the picture book, playing up the voices, asking questions, sparking discussions — it reminds me that we don’t do enough to use picture books for mentor texts in the upper grades. I use them, but I could probably do it even more.

We were hoping to do an All-School Read-Aloud for Read Across America Day yesterday (and Wednesday is World Read Aloud Day), but snow moved in (surprise) and we had a two-hour delay, so that community reading will happen this morning. I am trying to find my copy of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. Anyone borrow it?

Peace (in the book),
Kevin

10 Comments
  1. I love that you use picture books in 6th grade too! Happily in third grade we do not address allegory, but as you say, picture books are great for sparking discussions. Thanks for sharing!

  2. How much fun! We actually had an ice day on Monday, but I’m happy to report we’ll be back in school today.

    While I don’t have a Seuss story planned for today, I do have some read-alouds ready to go!

    I think kids understand more than we give them credit for – as long as we put the time and effort into crafting a lesson to guide them.

  3. I’m not a huge fan of Dr Seuss, although I am amazed at what he did so masterfully. However, I always play it up in my 2nd grade classroom because the rhythm of his writing is so soothing for them and they love his use of pretend words. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I’ll have to keep an eye out for this one! We have quite a few Dr Seuss books and I enjoy reading them to my 2 year old. I’m looking forward to they day when she starts reading them to me 😀

  5. I totally agree — picture books should be part of the day for bigger kids for so many reasons. First, you can finish them — post haste. Second, they’re engaging and fulfilling. Third, kids love them because they can be deep in a completely accessible way. Just like The Butter Battle Book and The Lorax (also my favorite!). And, from a teacher perspective, ‘picture books’ are not synonymous with little kids. Only big kids and parents think this. So keep shifting the paradigm!
    b

  6. start with metaphor, which in my experience teaching ages 6-12, comes naturally, call it something else…imagine you are….what if…

  7. Nothing better than a good picture book! And I agree with you about THE LORAX! I think my favorites, though, are still HOP ON POP (the first book I knew how to read), and THE SNEETCHES.

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