The students that I have taught for the past 2 -3 years LOVE sloths. We have read books about sloths – both fiction and nonfiction and know quite a few things about these slow moving creatures. So it was an absolute delight to share Sloth Slept On by Frann Preston-Gannon with this class on our first day of school before they moved on to their new classrooms.
This title is all about the discovery of a strange creature fast asleep in a back yard tree and the search to find out just who it is that has been found and where exactly he belongs. Our well meaning little sleuths eventually do discover that they are dealing with a sloth but their endeavours to return him home are not exactly perfect, despite best intentions.
Student reactions were so interesting – full of many questions.
At the beginning there was lots of wondering about the age of the three children who discovered the sloth. Were they old enough to read? How exactly did they pick up a sloth? (Are sloths light or heavy?) Did their parents know they were picking up unknown creatures and carrying them around?
Soon into the story, the wondering turned to a possible message or theme that the author was playing with. Students observed that so much of the book was about paying attention, or more accurately not paying attention. Many of the characters seemed to miss important clues in their environment. They were distracted and didn’t notice the obvious. The were distracted with their wondering and imagining. Was this a book about noticing and being mindful of place?
This led us to the very interesting question: Are sloths observant animals? Can you be an observant animal if you spent 20 hours a day or more sleeping? Some argued, absolutely not. Others thought that if in the four “awake” hours, you really paid attention, it would count.
When the children in the story made the decision to send the sloth (spoiler alert!) to the rainforest, reactions were again mixed and the discussion became quickly interesting – drawing on some of the things we learned the year before about rehabilitating rescued animals:
- “It would be great for an animal to be returned to nature.”
- “Only if he could be rehabilitated.”
- “What if he’s too used to humans, that would make him vulnerable.”
- “Do poachers go after sloths?”
- “What if he can’t figure out how to find his own food?”
- “Isn’t the natural habitat always better?”
- “Do you think he was born in the rainforest?”
Students enjoyed the illustrations and all of the conversations this book prompted. Recommended for preschool to late primary classrooms. Perfect as part of a study on sloths. Ideal for practicing comprehension skills like questioning and inferring.
Thank you to Lauren at Sterling Publishing Company for providing the copy of Sloth Slept On for review!