This week, I’m re-posting an old favorite. It’s about teaching point of view and theme – two reading skills that are, to say the least, not the easiest to teach! Luckily, I found a picture book that works great for introducing, or practicing both of these topics, and it works great for upper elementary and middle school kids.
For a great picture book connection to point of view and theme, read Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg. With its ants-eye point of view and lessons learned at the end its perfect for introducing these two story-telling elements.
The story is told from the point of view of the two ants who veer off from their mission into a world of endless sugar crystals – a third person limited POV. The pictures, however, give us the full picture – the omniscient point of view. For example, the text describes the ants marching through a tunnel and then emerging into a world where “the sky was gone.” From the picture, we see that they have entered a kitchen window.
In one of their adventures, the ants end up in a “boiling brown lake,” really a cup of coffee. Kids will love the picture of the ants treading water (or coffee) to avoid being sucked into the “cave.” Read the story to enjoy the garbage disposal and toaster scenes!
The too-adventurous ants eventually learn their lessons: Choices have consequences. There’s no place like home. Which makes Two Bad Ants perfect as a simple, clear illustration for the theme of a book. Kids can discuss how and where these themes are presented in the book, and they can also use it a springboard for discussing other books they have read with similar themes.
Unlike many picture books which are designed for younger kids, Two Bad Ants will appeal to middle grade kids. The pictures and the humor are just their style.
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Resources from Classroom in the Middle
Linked with The Owl Teacher for Mentor Text Monday.