Ms. Jorgensen (our principal from Strathcona school) visited us last week during Camp Read with a book under her arm. She had brought us a copy of Interrrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein. Would we like to read it? What a question!
Reading this story to my class was funny for a few reasons.
1. This class is full of active, dynamic, engaged children with chronic and highly contagious cases of Interruptingitis (and we love them for it – sigh, most of the time!) Come in for a visit. Read them a story. Tell them about something. You’ll see that we don’t exaggerate! We could have a book written about us – Interrupting Classroom. So how would we react to a book all about interrupting?
2. This book had a very strange impact on the class. Silence. Big toothy grins. Eyes alight with anticipation. But no talking. No interrupting. At all! This story was so engaging that there was quiet. A miracle! The irony! A story all about interrupting completely quieted us (temporarily).
This story is about a little red chicken who begs her Papa for a bedtime story to soothe her to sleep. So Papa pulls out her favourite fairy tales. He starts with Hansel and Gretel. Just as they get to the part where the children begin to follow the old woman into the house, the little chicken leaps up and yells:
Out jumped a little red chicken and she said, “DON’T GO IN! SHE’S A WITCH!” So Hansel and Gretel didn’t. The End
Papa gently reminds her that she should be relaxing. No more interrupting. Little Chicken promises. But she can’t contain herself when the wolf wishes Little Red Riding Hood “Good Morning”
Into the story she jumps: “Don’t talk to strangers!”
More reminding from Papa. More promises from chicken. But how can she help but warn Henny Penny when she is about to tell the whole farm the sky was falling?
“Don’t panic! It was just an acorn!”
Papa is frustrated and out of stories. That’s it! But how can little chicken go to sleep without a story? Papa suggests that the little chicken tell him a story. Hmm . . . So she begins a lovely made up story only to have Papa fall quickly asleep. She snuggles into bed beside him. “Good night Papa” Lovely.
I asked everyone at the end. “So, did the interrupting ruin the story?
“No,” said Hajhare definitively, “I would do it too if I could fit in the book.”
I don’t doubt he would! I have read reviews of this book that talk about this story being great to teach children about not interrupting but this was not where I thought we should go with it. Why do we read aloud? To soothe, to engage, to captivate, to connect, to excite. With familiar stories, we feel like we “own” the characters, and like the little red chicken, we dive right inside. I loved the little chicken’s passion (and her interrupting tendencies). That energy over books, where our comments, questions, connections just spill out is the environment we should strive to create within a classroom. So that what is contagious is excitement over books. Yes, interrupting is often not appropriate. Yes, we need to learn to speak and listen in turn. But not at the expense of turning down the excitement over the reading of stories. So with this book we read, we enjoyed and we celebrated passion for books!