Monday, October 25, 2010

Ira Sleeps Over

Written & Illustrated by Bernard Waber
Children’s Picture Book: K-1
Stars: 5 (out of 5)

Summary: Ira, about to embark on his first sleepover at his friend Reggie’s house, struggles with whether or not to take his teddy bear along, afraid that Reggie will make fun of him, worried that he won’t be able to sleep without it.

            I vaguely recall reading this story when I was a young child. The story that I remember was much less complex than this story. This story deals with growing up and the fear that many children have of being seen as a “baby.” Young children, who are ready and excited to grow up, are often constrained by their fears and the routines that they are accustomed to. On one hand, they want to be like their older siblings, cousins, classmates, etc., but at the same time, they are not ready to give up the life that they know and are comfortable with. While young children can really relate to the internal struggle that Ira goes through, adults can relate as well. Even as adults, we face difficult decisions, yearning to move on to the next stage of life, but afraid of what we might need to leave behind, unsure of ourselves. What this book suggests, is that it is okay to hold onto things that we are comfortable with, and that these choices do not prevent us from maturing and growing as people. Ira is a character who is very relatable, for as readers, we get to see inside of his head and experience the back-and-forth turmoil that he faces. In the end, we really feel for him and are proud of his decisions. Ira and Reggie, as characters, are definitely the strongest literary element components of this story.
            I am not sure of whether or not this book would be one that I would use in my classroom. I really enjoy the book, and would like to have it available as a choice in my classroom library, but I’m not sure that I would do anything specific with the book. The only time I could see myself using it is in a kindergarten classroom. In kindergarten, the students take naps and I would assume that many might have stuffed animals, blankets, or other objects that they need to sleep. In this case, this book might be something that I would read to the students to help them understand that it is okay to have these comfort objects, and that they do not mean that the students are “babies.” It would be particularly useful if I was noticing some teasing or taunting occurring between students based on their reliance on such comfort objects. It would also convey the message that these students aren’t alone and that what they feel is very natural for kids of their own age to feel.

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