Title: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
Author/Illustrator: Simms Taback
Publisher: Viking Children's Books: New York 1997
As a child, the nursery rhyme that follows this story has always fascinated me. I have read this story numerous times, and every-time I read it with children they seem to pick up on the language very quickly. I choose to discuss this book because I think it is a great picture book to use with children who are learning to read. This book tells the story of an old woman who swallows a fly, and continues to swallow an absurd array of different animals. Each page shows the old woman with a hole cut out in the page to show the readers the animal she swallowed inside her stomach. Each page also shows a great amount of detail. The pictures in the story match the print, so as children are reading along they can make a text-to-picture match.
This story also has the three R's of early reading: Rhyme, Repetition, and Rhythm, which are important factors to keep in mind when selecting a book for early readers. As I mentioned this story was inspired by an old song which dates back to 1953, so I think playing the song while reading this story would be fun! This story is an interactive, as well as pattern style picture book for readers. Throughout the book a few lines repeat on each page: "There was an old lady who swallowed a 'blank' I don't know why she swallowed that 'blank' perhaps she'll die". There are also a number of picture ques for readers to follow along with. On each page the old woman swallows something different and there is usually a picture of the animal in her stomach, so they may use this in order to complete the sentence mentioned above.
I think this book would be great for teachers to use in the classroom, for a read aloud, or just to keep it in the class library for the students to explore independently. I believe good picture books are very important for children to explore when they are learning to read. Children need structure and plenty of active methods that contain repetition when they are focusing on reading. Books that are easy to follow along with are a great way to boost a child's self-confidence while reading. Picture books (such as this one), that also have high-frequency words, are also a great way to help children stay in rhythm with the story. Teachers and students can learn to have fun with reading, if they choose books that can stimulate their prior-knowledge. Fun books can make reading fun!