In this book with illustrations by Guy Parker-Rees, Gerald the giraffe longs to dance, but gets discouraged by his clumsiness and the teasing of other animals. After encouraging words from a friend, Gerald discovers that not only can he dance, he can dance in ways that truly amaze everyone! Read Giraffes Can’t Dance with your five-year-old to help build important pre-reading skills like oral language, phonological awareness and letter knowledge.
Before, During and After Reading
Talk about the illustrations on the cover and inside cover; ask your child to describe what she sees. Put on some music and dance with your child!
Find the hidden animals. As you read, point out that there are many animals and little creatures that are drawn in a way that they are almost hidden. Ask your child to search for the animals that may not be easily noticed. See how many you can find together. Tell your child the names if she doesn’t know them.
As you read, point out that the last words of every other sentence rhyme and explain that they sound alike. For example, when Gerald is approaching the dance floor, “Gerald swallowed bravely as he walked toward the floor. But the lions saw him coming, and they soon began to roar.” Emphasize floor and roar after reading the sentence by saying the words together as a pair: floor/roar. Explain that words that sound the same at the end are words that rhyme. With your child, come up with a few more words that rhyme with floor and roar. Examples include: door, more, and boar.
Talk about the outcome of the story and how Gerald learns to embrace his unique, impressive moves. Gerald accepts himself and is encouraging to the other animals (the ones who originally made fun of him), much like his friend who provided the support he needed when he was very sad. Talk with your child about experiences that are like those in the story and about times that a friend, family member or teacher provided support that was kind and helpful.
Gerald the giraffe’s name begins with the Letter G. Help your child come up with names for the other animals based on the first letter of what they’re called such as, Marla the monkey, Felipe the frog, Henry the hippo, etc.
Explore other recommended children’s books and reading activities for five-year-olds, 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.