I used to teach a class about the language development of young children that focused more on how to support early language learning rather than the deeper developmental processes of language. I spent a lot of time exploring children’s literature as a means of engaging children with words and new vocabulary, rhythm and rhyme, concepts and meaning, story structure and storytelling.
One of my favorite ways to use children’s books as a vehicle for curriculum development is by examining versions of the same story. One that jumps to mind is the story of The Gingerbread Boy. There are so many good versions of this tale; The Gingerbread Man, The Gingerbread Girl, The Gingerbread Friends and the not-so-famous Gingerbread Pirates.
Reading the classic version acquaints the children with the characters and the story line, so they become familiar with the traditional version. After reading it a few times; enough that they know the characters, and can predict what will happen, you can then introduce a new version. Tell the children how the story is the same in some ways and different in others. Ask them to think about what is the same and what is different so they can compare the stories.
There are all sorts of ways to support the children as they make comparisons. Be sure to use visual representations to organize the children’s ideas. Using a scanner to make copies of the main characters of each book so the children can see which ones are the same and which ones are different. You know I like graphic organizers like Venn diagrams or Attribute Maps, so use those to help support the children’s ideas. Many of the stories have some of the same characters and some different characters. These distinctions are easily observed by children but some of the nuanced differences may be harder to recognize. Help the children find them.
This website has more great ideas to explore Gingerbread Man versions.