I am happy to participate in this meme, started by the Styling Librarian.
Back in October, the middle schools in our district shared a Barnes and Noble Book Fair. At the start of the day, my best friend and fellow librarian Kari and I perused the children’s and teens’ sections to find additional books for our wish lists.
“Do you have this one?” Kari asked.
I shook my head.
“Then you HAVE to get it,” she replied as she shoved the picture book into my basket. “It is excellent for teaching inferences with our intervention groups. And funny.”
Michael not only loves words; he collects them. One day he hears a particularly intriguing word on the bus ride to school. Both his sister and his friend tell him it is a very inappropriate word, but he puts it in his pocket anyway. And then says it–frequently–and in many situations. The students in his class are also intrigued by the word, and they start saying it too…until…
Michael’s teacher asks him to stay after school…and visit the library to find new words for the class spelling test. He finds so many that he forgets all about the very inappropriate word.
Dave Coverly’s illustrations accompany Tobin’s clever story. I love how Michael’s collected words look like what they mean. And the very inappropriate word looks like it got caught up in a bar fight and then crawled under a dusty old sofa.
Kari was so right about this being a great book for helping students understand inferences. Even my student who struggles most with reading giggled when I asked him if he thought he knew what the inappropriate word was–and told him just to think it, not say it. I also asked students why the teacher sent Michael to find new words rather than give him a detention or send him to the principal’s office. And I asked them to explain what the author meant by my favorite quote from the book: “Michael could see there was something bad about it. But there was also something about it he kind of liked.” Not only did they learn about inferences, but they thoroughly enjoyed the book as well.
What I love most about The Very Inappropriate Word is that it serves as further proof that picture books are for everyone. There’s no reason to stop sharing them when students reach middle school, or high school, or beyond.