If there's one thing my students are very familiar with this year, it has to be anything and everything Mo Willems related. One of my earlier posts was about how Mo Willem's Leonardo the Terrible Monster helped me land my pre-k teaching position. I truly enjoy his work and it has impacted my students. A goal I had set for my classroom this year was to eventually have all of Mo's books as well as plush dolls of his characters. Through donorschoose.org, I am very close to achieving this goal. My kids LOVE Mo Willems. When we received our books, I was very hesitant to allow my students to access them unsupervised. My heart breaks when any books get ripped or damaged by carelessness. This turned into a discussion about how we care for books. Comparisons were drawn to how a baby needs to be handled with care. Although books do not require the same handling, it does require care. Our kids are now gravitating to our Mo Willems collection, and enjoying them endlessly. The wonderful characters from his books engages my children and has taught them valuable life lessons.
Mo Willems is a fantastic author. His characters are unique, funny, memorable, and offer so much besides entertainment. The Piggie and Elephant books are always very well received by the students I read to, regardless of their age. The books with soft toys help students learn to be better friends, how to treat everyone equally regardless of who they are, accepting those who are different than us, and many more quality life lessons. Books teach us many things we may not be able to experience. Mo Willems characters does this exceptionally well. The style these books are written also introduce dialogue and speech bubbles, something even pre-k students start to pick up. They love these characters so much that they often create their own Elephant and Piggie. My group last year would draw Elephant and Piggie and would add their own speech to the characters. This year's group has taken a more artistic approach. They would cut up pieces of construction paper and make their own Elephant and Piggie.
Pigeon is a mischievous bird that is always hearing "NO" from my students. Even my English language learners that are in a silent phase cannot resist telling the Pigeon things he cannot do or have. Pigeon has made my students more keen observers. Whenever we read Mo Willems' books, they are always on the lookout for the Pigeon cameo appearance. When they see him, they'll definitely let you know it.
The Knuffle Bunny series follows a young girl named Trixie who starts off as a toddler not yet able to speak on her journey with her beloved stuffed bunny, and we watch her grow through the series. These books show our students continuity in books. The story doesn't simply end when we've read the last page. There's so much left for interpretation in books and Knuffle Bunny is a great series to show our young students this. I wanted to create memorable reading experiences for my students and allow them to develop a love for books. Do you remember the first book you read that made you an avid reader? First impressions are very important. I want to create a GREAT first impression of books for my students so they are able to appreciate and LOVE quality books with the ultimate goal of turning them into lifelong readers. These books are allowing me to achieve this goal.
The latest books we've added to our library has been the Cat the Cat series. I wasn't sure what to make of Cat the Cat at first. She was very different from the other characters. I quickly realized that this series was very appropriate for children at the pre-k level. The Cat the Cat books are easy to read, predictable, and help students draw upon prior knowledge about animals.
Dr. Seuss, Eric Carle, Kevin Henkes, and Maurice Sendak are classic authors of children's literature. Their books are present in every early childhood classroom. Mo Willems is an author, who, I truly believe, creates wonderful books that needs to be in every classroom. Thank you Mo Willems, for capturing the hearts of 18 pre-kinder children and a teacher who is still a kid at heart! This is a long shot, but if this reaches Mr. Mo Willems somehow, our class of four year olds, who think very highly of you, would love to invite you to our school in Flushing, Queens for a visit.
If you'd like to add to our Mo Willems' library and help us complete our collection, I've added the remaining books we need on our classroom Amazon.com wish list. Check it out here!
Currently in my fifth year of teaching Pre-K at a early childhood elementary school.