I can’t remember a time in my life that I didn’t love the character Curious George. He is a cute, sweet and lovable character with a curiosity that most children and adults can appreciate. Curious George books were originally written by Margret Elizabeth and her husband Hans Augusto “H.A.” Rey. They were first published in 1941 by Houghton Mifflin.
Curious George books are generally predictable, which can be an advantage for those children struggling with speech and language disorders including issues with narratives and sequencing. Already knowing and understanding the characters and the mischievous ways of George can help a child engage in each individual story and increase motivation. In the more recently published books, there also includes a carryover lesson and activity. With so many Curious George books published (hundreds but I haven’t counted), it is easy to find a book for younger and older children depending on particular interests. There also are some e-books available, as well. I recently wrote an article on comparing e-books and print books.
Growing up with such a fondness for Curious George naturally led me to reading this series of books to my own kids and clients. I wanted to share some language tips in this article to use for the Curious George series. Language tips include:
- Expanding vocabulary: Within each book you will find new vocabulary to work on and define. For example in “Curious George Goes to the Chocolate Factory” discuss and define vocabulary such as “chocolate,” “treat,” “sale,” “factory,” “store,” etc. Words that many children do not know may include “truffle,” “caramel,” and “tour guide.”
- Sequencing: Within each story, there are basic events that occur in a specific order. For example in Curious George Makes Maple Syrup, there are clear and concrete steps to make the maple syrup. In order to work on sequencing, take some photos and upload them to sequencing app, such as Making Sequences. With this app, a child can put the story in order and then retell you the story in their own words. Another way I work on sequencing is to use blank comic strips.
- Recalling information: Throughout the story, ask simple questions and help your child recall specific information about the story. For example, during Curious George Makes Pancakes, encourage conversation about George and his involvement in making pancakes. Why does everyone love George’s pancakes? Why is he running away from the chef?
- Describing: Encourage your client to explain what is occurring in the story. For example, in Curious George Makes Maple Syrup, encourage your client to explain to you how the maple syrup might taste and what a maple tree looks and feels like. If possible, bring in some maple syrup and a piece of a tree bark and ask your client to describe the feel and smell of the syrup and bark. If you don’t have the manipulatives, search for videos or pictures describing what is in the book. For example, with the book, Curious George and the Plumber, I found a photo online to show my client what an “auger” was and other equipment that the plumber used in the book. It helped connect specific ideas with the book and make it more concrete and engaging for the child.
- Answering “wh” questions: Throughout the book, ask “wh” questions and encourage your own client to ask specific questions about the story. Work on pragmatics by staying on topic and taking turns within a discussion.
- Problem solving: There are many opportunities to problem solve during any story with Curious George because he is always getting into trouble due to his curiosity. Discuss the problem and ask your client to figure out what he might have done differently to deal with a problem. For example, in Curious George and the Puppies, George decides to let all of the puppies out because he wanted to hold them. All of the puppies ran out and now George had a big problem. Before you move onto the next page, discuss what George should do, etc.
- Pragmatics: George and his friend, the Man with the Yellow Hat, have a wonderful relationship. Although George is always finding himself in trouble, it is obvious that both characters love and care about each other. They have a mutual respect for each other which can be a great model for children. Also, the Man with the Yellow Hat always forgives George for his mischievous ways which can be great discussion for many children.
- Literacy and Reading Comprehension: Work on improving your client’s ability to read the words in the story and comprehend what they are reading. Another way to work on literacy is having your client draw a scene from the story and then have them write a sentence about it.
- Emotions: George and the Man with the Yellow Hat have many emotions throughout each story. Both characters are often happy and then sometimes sad, scared, confused and regretful. Describe these emotions and begin a discussion about them.
- Narratives: use a story map such as this one with the story. This story map was created by Layers of Learning. There are many other story maps available, but I liked this one….
Rebecca Eisenberg, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist, author, instructor, and parent of two young children, who began her website www.gravitybread.com to create a resource for parents to help make mealtime an enriched learning experience. She has worked for many years with children and adults with developmental disabilities in a variety of settings including schools, day habilitation programs, home care, and clinics. Reach her at email@example.com or follow her on Facebook; on Twitter; or on Pinterest.