My Backpack Review, Critique, and Activities
Title: My Backpack
Author: Eve Bunting
Illustrated by: Maryann Cocca-Leffler
Boyds Mills Press
Approximate age group: toddler and preschool - k - first grade
"My Backpack" is a cute rhyming picture book by Eve Bunting, complete with bright big, fun pictures in happy colors.
A book children and adults can relate to, "My Backpack" is about a boy and his new backpack and all the important things he decides it can hold -- things his family always seems to lose. This hilarious list includes his father's reading glasses, his mother's shoes and the television remote control. He even finds room for the pet cat.
When his family members discover their items are missing, they all go on a hunt and finally find the culprit. they are not pleased. Mind you, there is a comforting ending.
It's a sweet and funny must-read. Keep in mind though, that while on the surface it seems like it would be a toddler and preschool book, best for read out loud story times, it really is a great beginner reading book for up through first grade. As far as content goes, it's relate-able, familiar, and humorous. Physically, it is a great beginner reading book because the paper stock is sturdy, durable and make for easy to turn pages. The book size and shape is a good one for small laps (not too big and not too little), and the words are large, bold, and easy for children to point to as they're reading and sounding out words. Also, the illustrations go very well with the words. Beginning readers can gain context clues from the illustrations, and can linger as much as necessary on each double page spread without feeling lost or pressured. All these factor in as extremely important aspects for helping beginner readers learn.
About the Author and Illustrator
Eve Bunting has won numerous literary awards for her children's books, including the 1984 PEN Los Angeles Center Special Literacy Achievement Award and the Golden Kite Award for "One More Flight". Her picture books include "Market Day", illustrated by Holly Berry; "Train to Somewhere", illustrated by Ronald Himler; and the Caldecott Medal-winning "Smoky Night".
Maryann Cocca-Leffler has illustrated many children's books including "I Don't Want to Go to Camp", also by Eve Bunting; "Wanda's Roses", by Pat Brison; and "Clams All Year", which she also wrote.
Even pre readers benefit from activities that correlate to the books they read. Correlated activities help children make connections, and aid in strengthening focus and attention spans without effort. Here are some to choose from based on what you think your child's levels are. Like recipes, most any activity can be altered or tweaked to suit ones personal taste. Keep in mind, kids like a challenge, so if you know a way to make your chosen activities just a little bit harder, they'll probably surprise you with some brilliant stuff.
- Predictions using current story details: Based on the illustrations, have your child make predictions on what the boy in the story will be putting into the backpack.
- Relational and personal experiences: If they have and use a backpack, ask what sorts of things they normally put in their backpacks and why. What sorts of things would they not put? If they don't have one, ask what sorts of things they would like to put in one.
- Spacial Relations: Based on the items in the book, or items they've mentioned in number two above, ask what size the boys or their own backpack would have to be.
- Recollection and personal experiences: Compare backpacks to other things that people put stuff in, like purses, drawers, pockets, etc. and talk about what sorts of things they'd put in those other places. Ask about what sorts of items they shouldn't be putting in backpacks or other storage places and why.
- Empathy and memory: Have your child talk about why it wasn't such a good idea for the boy to be putting all those things into his backpack. Also talk about why he did (aside from just because he didn't know any better; if your child digs deep he or she will be able to place what it was about many of the items that the boy chose to put in there.)
- Art and fine motor skills: Have your child(ren) draw pictures of things that they they would put in their backpack. You can also have him or her cut out items from magazines). Make an 8 1/2 x 11 backpack template (for front and back) and copy it so that they can cut it out on their own (or have them pre-cut) to tape the sides and bottom together then color or decorate, and fill with the items they drew or cut out. If they drew all their items on a single piece of paper or a few pieces of paper, they can fold those up and put them in their backpack like notes. You can make a display wall of everyone's backpacks.
- Spelling and Language Arts: Make a list of sight words and or words they should recognize.
Got any good ideas you'd like to share? Let us know. We'd love to hear from you.