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Courage



Last updated Monday, June 9, 2008

Author: Bernard Waber
Date of Publication: 2002
ISBN: 0618238557
Grade Level: 1st    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2008

Synopsis: From Amazon.com: In this poignant yet entertaining volume, versatile author and artist Waber (The Mouse That Snored) takes a look at the various ways in which kids, the occasional grown-up and one endearing canine display bravery. "There are many kinds of courage," the narrative begins. "Awesome kinds" appears on a spread of trapeze artists; "everyday kinds" depicts a boy who summons the confidence to jump off a high dive. Minimal yet artfully crafted text and sprightly art reveal some gutsy acts that all youngsters will identify with: taking that first bike ride without training wheels, explaining the rip in a brand-new pair of pants. The author's observations range from lighthearted ("Courage is deliberately stepping on sidewalk cracks") to those worthy of reflection ("Courage is being the first to make up after an argument"). Waber's wit infuses many of the pages, including one from a dog's viewpoint: a "Beware of Dog" sign adorns the front lawn of a house while, inside, a pooch quakes listening to eerie sounds "Courage is it's your job to check out the night noises in the house." On the affecting, timely penultimate spread, scenes of firefighters and a police officer on the job ("Courage is being a firefighter, or a police officer") appear opposite the image of a mother and two children watching a plane take off ("Courage is sometimes having to say goodbye"). Uncovering an array of triumphs and fears, this is a natural read-aloud likely to spark valuable adult-child dialogue and to help youngsters conquer their own fears.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you know what "courage" means?
•  What are examples of "courage"?
•  What is the boy on the cover doing? (jumping into a pool) Is that scary?
•  Have you ever done that?
•  What are you scared of?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  After each scene, discuss the situation and ask if the kids have been in a a similar situation. Ask them what they did.
•  What is the most courageous thing you’ve done?
•  Who helps give you courage? (Last picture with the dog)
•  Who’s your favorite superhero? Is that person “courageous”? How?
•  Who/how do you help give courage to someone? Does that make you a hero or superhero?

Craft ideas:
•  Fold a piece of paper in half. On one half draw what you are afraid of. On the other side, draw how you would be courageous or who would help you be courageous.
•  Make a “badge of courage”. Give the badge to someone who is courageous or keep it for yourself.
•  Make a superhero costume–a mask for the face, a belt, wristbands or headband.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!