Reach high! Reach high up! Up to the top! To life lessons! It is the very reason we read. Open a children’s book, and open a window to the world of wisdom. Bringing the literary world to your students in the early years nourishes them in ways that they will hunger for more pages of worldly advice and admirable characters as they grow older. Talented authors teach life lessons that apply to childhood years and reach out to grown-up life, too.
Reading children’s literature should be a hallmarked place in your plan book because that practice alone goes straight to the heart of why we teach reading and writing.
Why did the author write the book? What is his message? How does this book’s message make us smarter? How does this book’s lesson make us a more caring and kind person? What does the book teach?
Select a time during your day that is dedicated to reading and talking about good books. Find, establish, and create a comfortable book corner or space. Young children are happy to sit on a carpet; older students do better in a circle of chairs. Center stage is the book. After a short while, you will find that your students look forward to this time of day. They will be attentive to your book choices. They will be inquisitive and talkative about what the book teaches. What does the “reader life” look and feel like in your classroom? What life lessons will you talk about today? Read on to learn what life lessons can be learned by reading After the Fall by Dan Santat.
Whatever did happen to Humpty Dumpty after his fall? Well, we know that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put him back together again…or wait, maybe they did. This book is clever, resourceful, sad, funny, surprising, and inspiring…and teaches life lessons.
Book Pages and Writing Prompts to enhance your reading experience
Life Lesson #1
Accidents happen. Humpty did get help (and bandages and glue). He is on the mend. However, another problem emerges. He is so very afraid of heights. Feelings of lightheartedness and humor shift to a mood of sadness, trial, and determination as the reader turns the pages. Caution and fear foreshadow Humpty’s actions after his fall. His fear of heights impacts his life in big and small ways. What should he do? Accidents happen, but he must move forward in spite of them.
Life Lesson #2
Did you know that Humpty was an avid birdwatcher? And do you see his binoculars? Do you ever wonder why he was sitting on that high city wall in the first place? Humpty’s life has changed since the accident, and he longs to sit up on the city wall again. He wants to sit high up on the wall with the birds, but all he can manage is making daily walks by the wall. Looking up! (With trepidation, because accidents happen.) The author shows how insurmountable this fear of heights feels to Humpty with a captivating page of immense white space. White space, like silence, shows the physical and psychological element of his fear. No words necessary. It will take courage to overcome this towering, vast wall.
And now our main character gets an idea! He will persevere. He will continue to find things he might do at lower heights. He finds consolation by making a paper airplane. Paper airplane-making doesn’t come readily to Humpty. He learns to try and try once more, and finally, Humpty has made that perfect airplane to reach the top of the wall. But when his airplane soars over the top of the wall, he must find the courage to scale the wall to retrieve his treasured airplane.
Don’t look up. Don’t look down. Keep reaching! And one careful step at a time, Humpty succeeds in overcoming his fear of heights and reaches the top of the wall! This high moment is filled with warm, golden light. This book teaches the reader not to give up – to keep trying – and that you must overcome obstacles that sometimes feel insurmountable.
Life Lesson #3
Throughout the story, Humpty’s band aid is visible. It doesn’t slip off. The bandage is there to remind us that: Healing takes time. Courage takes time. Getting back up takes time. Life begins when you get back up.
After the Fall ends with a lightbulb moment! Yes, most certainly, out of an egg a bird should hatch! The magic of literature embraced by life lessons! What could be better?!
Christine Quimby, M.Ed. is a teacher and a Reading Specialist. She has taught in New Hampshire, Hawaii, and Massachusetts. She has been teaching for 22 years, Grades K-5, and also has taught college preparatory classes in Literacy and Children’s Literature. You can visit her website at MrsQuimbyReads.com and find her teaching resources at her MrsQuimbyReads Teachers Pay Teachers store.