In this book, the author/illustrator uses heart shapes to create a variety of zoo animals, and similes to describe a child’s characteristics and feelings. For example: “My heart is like a zoo – silly as a seal, rugged as a moose, happy as a herd of hippos drinking apple juice.” The text is rhythmic and creative, sure to lull your child as he listens.
Before, During and After Reading
Show the cover of the book and trace the hearts that form the mane, face, and nose of the lion. Talk with your child about how the author, Michael Hall, uses heart shapes to create the animals in the book. Open the book to several pages where your child can find and touch the hearts that were used to create the animals.
Read a few pages of the book, then stop and talk about how the author uses similes to describe numerous feelings in a young child’s heart. Explain how similes compare two things that are not the same to make a point. As you continue to read, point out each simile in the story and ask your child what he thinks it means. You might ask, What do you think the author meant when he used the words ‘bothered as a bull with a hornet in its hair’?
Once you have finished reading the book, go back through it and select random pages to reread and talk about.
Help your child draft his own simile that compares him to one of the animals in the book. Is he silly as a seal? Rugged as a moose? Crafty as a fox? He can use a simile from the book or create his own that reflects his feelings and his personality. Provide paper so that your child can create his own animal picture made from heart shapes. At the bottom of the paper, ask your child to write his simile, assisting as necessary.
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.