"This cat is big
This cat is small
This cat is short
This cat is ..."
- Big Cat, Small Cat by Ami Rubinger
When you read to children, do you actively engage them in the story by asking questions and encouraging interaction? Studies have shown the positive effects on language development when children become involved in the story and participate in the storytelling. This method of reading is called dialogic reading. Reading Rockets, an excellent online children's reading resource, published an article on this topic with the following statement:
"Dialogic reading works. Children who have been read to dialogically are substantially ahead of children who have been read to traditionally on tests of language development. Children can jump ahead by several months in just a few weeks of dialogic reading."You can read all types of picture books when trying to implement the dialogic reading technique. However, some books already have built in prompts that help parents actively read with their children. A new picture book titled Big Cat, Small Cat by Ami Rubinger is one such book.
Comical pairs of felines in every shape, color, size and disposition sit on hills and fill the pages of Big Cat, Small Cat. Rubinger uses the various cats to discuss opposites. The text features short, simple, rhyming verses. Children can participate in the storytelling by listening to the rhyme and using clues in the illustrations to fill in the blank at the end of each four-line rhyme. The missing word rhymes with the last word in the second line. For instance, "This cat is dirty, this cat is clean. This cat is nice, this cat is ... [mean]." The author, Ami Rubinger, resides in Tel-Aviv and this book is translated from the Hebrew version.
We have our own big cats here, so obviously my kids enjoy all books about cats. My daughter liked the fill-in-the-blank aspect of the book the best. She surprised me by guessing all the rhyming words correctly the first time we read the book together. Completion prompts are one of the five types of dialogic reading prompts to use with your children. I've read several books to my daughter where I've omitted a word intentionally and asked her what word comes next. Up until reading Big Cat, Small Cat I hadn't encountered a book that deliberately omitted words for educational purposes. The often silly accompanying illustrations helped set a fun tone to the book. We got a good laugh noting the stark opposites of the "good," white, angel cat and the "bad," black, ears-on-fire cat. The book strangely ends with a "bedtime book" message that seems out of place in a book that would normally be appropriate to read any time of the day. Here's our own silly rhyme to sum up our overall opinion: "This book contains cats; and opposites abound. Filling in the blanks, it's a fun read all-round!"
Big Cat, Small Cat written and illustrated by Ami Rubinger ; translated from the Hebrew by Ray Baitner. Abbeville Kids (August 2009); 28 pages; ISBN 9780789210296
Book Source: Review copy provided by for free by Abbeville Press. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)
Ami Rubinger - Author Website
Reading Rockets Article: "Dialogic Reading: An Effective Way to Read to Preschoolers"
Giggle poetry.com:Poetry fill-in-the-blank for older children
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