Happy Birthday, William Steig!

We’re going to celebrate William Steig’s 112th birthday (Thurs, Nov 14).

His Caldecott award winning book, Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, was a favorite of mine when I was young. While it bothered me that he was a rock for so long, I was drawn to the love his parents showed to him.

The love. It was familiar. It was the same feeling of love that my parents showed me.

I’m also drawn to celebrating Mr. Steig’s birthday because he reinvented himself by becoming a children’s book author at age 61. He wrote more that 30 children’s books (including Shrek) and continued to write into his 90s.

My dad completely reinvented himself at age 50 by becoming, to the surprise of our entire family, a chef! Talk about a powerful life lesson.

I’ll read Sylvester and the Magic Pebble to my Kinder kids. The beautiful illustrations alone will capture their attention. We’ll continue with our year-long discussion on character traits such as integrity, respect and compassion.

While I read, I’ll present the following questions for discussion (courtesy of Orange County Department of Education)

  • Do you think it was a good thing or a bad thing that Sylvester found the magic pebble? Why?
  • Describe how you think Sylvester felt locked up inside the rock.
  • Why do you think Sylvester’s parents put the magic pebble in an iron safe? Was that a good idea? Why or why not?
  • What would you have done with the magic pebble?
  • What might happen if people go anything they wished for?

We’ll get some movement and dramatic play in by acting out sentences I pick out from the story. And we’ll use our new vocabulary words to not only define and use in new sentences, we’ll also use them to get in some syllable counting practice.

We’ll also discuss wish regret. Can’t we all think of a time we regretted a wish that came true? It will be fascinating to hear what my 5/6-year olds offer up as wish regrets.

Then our focus will turn to the wishes we have for others. And, I know their wishes list will be long.

Is there anything better than the gifts of compassion and love?