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Where the Wild Things Are | Class #1 2015

Where the Wild Things AreFor our first class this year, we are again reading Where the Wild Things Are, a picture book that is now a classic, but was highly controversial in its day.

It’s rare to find students who have never read Where the Wild Things Are, but every year there are a handful. For those who know the book well, I’m interested in hearing whether you noticed anything new about it this time. Sometimes reading through the teacher lens leads to some trouble with a protagonist who does not model ideal behavior. How might you address that point?

Our first class will be Thursday night, February 26, and students will be posting comments to their readings here every week. We hope these discussions will reach beyond our classroom to include other readers of this blog. Having a more diverse and wide-ranging discussion can only help.

To see the other readings for this week, click on the tag link below: “Books for H810F 2/26/15

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.

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  1. Sara Gordon says:

    I have always loved this book. I think it was read aloud to the class every year in the elementary grades. One thing I noticed reading it this time was how much detail is contained in the illustrations and how few words there actually are. In terms of a protagonist not modeling ideal behavior, I would have a discussion with my students before and after reading the book. First, I would ask them to describe good behaviors that they or others do, as well as ones that are not so good. After reading it, I would ask them to compare the boy’s behavior to the good or bad ones that we discussed, talk about why they are good or bad, and what they might do similarly or differently if they were the boy.

  2. Annie Thomas says:

    One thing that I love most about this book is how relate-able the story and images might be for children. The illustrations seem to be drawn with a child in mind, and perhaps the way they might imagine a monster in their dreams or imaginations. As a teacher, I found that children in stories who do not model ideal behavior like “No David”, allow children to have discussions about their behavior and how it might make others feel and ways in which they can relate to the experience of the protagonist in the book.
    Something I really noticed this time about the story is, rather than Max’s behavior, the timing of which this story takes place and how long it takes for him to travel to and from where the wild things live (years). I wonder what the author’s intent was in making Max’s travels so long, and if children can relate or learn something from that portion of it. I’m not sure what that might be and am interested to hear what the class thinks!

  3. I remember having this book read to me when I was in elementary school! It’s great to see that some things never change.

    A few quick thoughts:
    1. I echo the thoughts Sara and Annie have raised about discussing model behavior with students (and reading books that allow for those discussions, instead of serving as one-dimensional morality tales). One follow-up thought: we briefly see a representation of Max’s home life, which seems to be a typical middle-class suburban household. Perhaps one thing that may be useful to bring into discussions of this book is asking students what their experience at home with parents is like and the similarities and differences they share with Max’s.

    2. I think the illustrations in this book do an interesting job of portraying the wild things; I think the author did a great job of making them playful and fun, rather than menacing. I wonder why he chose to do that, though, and I wonder if it might be beneficial to discuss what makes something (or somebody) a wild thing with students.

  4. Zohal Atif says:

    While reading this book I had mixed reaction.
    My first reaction was fascination with the story and how it tries to make “wild” and “scary” things seem fun and friendly. The illustrations did good job at conveying that message. But I also was confused by the story’s touch on misbehavior. The antagonist, Max, talks back to his mom and says “I will eat you up” and the illustration is showing Max making an angry face at his mom. While he is send to bed without food as a punishment but at the end of the book Max has his dinner ready without any hint of remorse at his behavior. May be I am bringing my own views on parent/child relationship to the book. But I thought the author could have done better job at showing that Max was sorry for his behavior. Nonetheless, it was fund to read.

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