When Owen’s parents bring home a bear named Gary to complete their family, Owen is not happy at all. Gary is new and different – and Owen is expected to share his parents, his room and even his toys! Though it takes Owen time to get used to Gary, he grows to love him and all the ways Gary brings joy to his life.
Before, During and After Reading
Introduce the book. Ask your child what he sees on the cover and encourage his observations. For example, you might say:
Yes, the bear is wearing pants! Do you think bears really wear pants?
Do you think the boy and bear look happy together? What shows you that they are happy together?
Talk about how Gary, the bear, and Owen are playing on a seesaw. Ask your child why he thinks that Owen is so high in the air, but Gary is sitting on the ground. On the inside front and back covers, there are more illustrations of Owen and Gary. Ask your child what he sees in those illustrations and if any of those, like soccer or cooking, are things he likes to do.
Discuss what you read and see. Owen talks about how his mom and dad brought home a surprise. Ask your child what he thinks that surprise could be. Talk about the illustrations as you read the book, especially the pages that are illustrations without text. Ask your child what he sees, what he thinks is happening or what he thinks will happen.
There are two b words that repeat throughout the story: bear and blocks. Point out that both bear and blocks begin with the letter b and that b makes the /b/ sound. As you read, encourage your child to find other words that begin with b, like the words bedtime and backyard. Reinforce the letter name, b, and the letter sound, /b/.
This can be done with different letters, like the letter s. Find words that begin with that letter; tell your child the letter name and its sound.
Discuss how the story unfolded. By the end of the story, Owen changes his mind about Gary. He grows to appreciate Gary and his unique talents. Ask your child about the things Gary does that change Owen’s mind about him. Explain that Gary’s actions show that he is kind, sensitive and generous.
Revisit the title of the book, Bear With Me. Not only is the title about Owen and Gary, you can talk to your child about another meaning of the word bear, which is “to be patient.” Both Owen and Gary demonstrate patience with one another, which allows them to get to know and grow close to each other.
On the inside front and back covers, Owen and Gary are in many drawn portraits, both individually and together. Provide paper and an assortment of crayons, pencils or markers for your child to draw portraits of Owen and Gary. Encourage your child to draw some of the activities that Owen and Gary enjoyed doing together, like playing with blocks or using the swing.
Since the portraits of Owen and Gary are like family portraits, ask your child to draw portraits of himself with his family or friends. Help your child write his name and those of family and friends on the portraits. Point out to your child that even Owen and Gary have their names on their portraits.
Explore more easy at-home activities designed to build pre-reading skills in your four-year-old, or or take the Reading BrightStart! Preschool Reading Screener. The screener can help you determine if your child is on the path to reading readiness, and provides a free plan for moving forward.