1—An introduction to similarity and difference
Yoko picture book study
Show the class the cover of the book Yoko by Rosemary Wells (if possible, display an enlarged image of the cover using the IWB so that some of the detail is more visible). Note: do not call the book a ‘story’ at this stage, as the kind of book it might be is about to be discussed.
Ask whether any students are familiar with the book (the main character has featured in a spin-off television series with which students may be familiar). Invite those who don’t know the book to predict what it will be about. Teachers may choose to point out here the comprehension strategy of ‘predicting’).
The teacher could ask:
- What do you think the title refers to? (Not all students will know ‘Yoko’ is a name, but to suggest so would be a reasonable inference given the image of a single character.)
- What kind of book do you expect it will be (for example, informative, imaginative, persuasive or some combination) and why do you think that?
- What might the book be about? What might happen?
- What do you think we will find inside: just words, or just pictures, or both? What kinds of pictures? (Photos / diagrams / graphs / maps/ artwork like that on the cover?)
- What kind of audience might the author have had in mind, do you think?
Invite the students to look closely at the main image and to predict some features of this character. Ask: What can you tell me about this character?
Students might notice:
- the character is smiling – suggests she is friendly/happy
- her direct gaze and open stance make contact with the reader – again suggesting friendliness, involvement
- her little bag has pictures of chopsticks on it – what might these suggest about the character’s interests or culture? – What do you think the bag could be for?
Read the story to the class. During the reading, select one or two comprehension strategies to model. The teacher may choose to ‘think aloud’ and model the reading strategies of ‘inferring’( ‘it must mean a kind of food’) and ‘reading on’ when coming to such words rather than explaining them.
During the reading the students may be invited to reflect upon their predictions as they listen to the story.
After reading: Whole class discussion
Ask the students to think again about the following questions, originally posed at the beginning of the lesson:
- What kind of book do think it is (for example, informative, imaginative, persuasive or some combination) and why do you think that? Students may realise that, while the text is imaginative, is it also designed to teach us about values. While it is not primarily a persuasive text, it certainly has a message for us.
- What is it about? Is it just a book about a cat who feels left out, or is it about more than that? Could it be a book about people, actually?
Students can ‘Think-Pair-Share’ and discuss with a partner their responses to these questions, then share ideas in whole class discussion.
After reading: Independent reading comprehension and ‘going beyond the text’ activity
Have students complete the activity on Similarities and differences in Yoko (.pdf 1.2 MB). If possible, have students reread the text independently to complete the first activity on the sheet.
Discuss the activity sheets, which will show how the characters all have similarities and differences. Invite students to ‘go beyond the text’ and think about how it connects with events or attitudes they may have experienced. Have them write answers to the questions on the reverse side of the worksheet, or discuss these questions first in small groups and then as a whole class.
Review with students the main ideas developed during the Yoko book study which are relevant to later lessons: that children have similarities and differences, and that friendship and understanding should not be hindered by differences of culture or personal taste.