Teachers for Teachers | It’s Monday! We Have Been Reading Some Texts with Surprise Endings!
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It’s Monday! We Have Been Reading Some Texts with Surprise Endings!

IMWAYRWe love texts with surprise endings because they encourage readers to ask questions about the writer’s decisions. Why this ending? How does this ending connect to the beginning of the text?   What does this text really mean?   Here are two texts that encourage readers to ponder:

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SHHH! We Have a Plan, Chris Haughton

We had the privilege of reading this text to Kindergartener students. Wow! This text sparked some important questions and ideas:

  • “Why is one bird in color while everything else is blue and black?”
  • “Why didn’t the bigger hunters listen to the smallest hunter?”
  • “Why didn’t the hunters learn from what happened with the bird?”

These young readers couldn’t believe the ending of this story. They wanted the hunters to learn a lesson, but they didn’t.   What a wonderful text to read and reread during interactive read aloud.   Readers can ponder the theme of this text and think about how the unpredictable ending adds to the deeper meaning.

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Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen

This text has an important message about enjoying the journey rather than focusing on a final destination or reward. The words and illustrations work together to tell the story of two boys on a mission to find “something spectacular.” Readers will need to carefully study the details to grasp deeper meanings of this text. We want to encourage them to notice and question what is really happening in this text:

  • Why is Sam and Dave’s house different at the beginning and the end of the book?
  • Where do Sam and Dave land after they fall through this earth?
  • Do they really “fall” back to their house?

As readers read and reread this text they will have lots to say about how the ending of this text creates deeper meaning.

Teachers Matter, Kids Count! Tammy and Clare

Teachers Matter, Kids Count!
Tammy and Clare

10 Comments
  • Avatar
    Holly Mueller
    Posted at 12:14h, 08 December Reply

    I think it’s great to read picture books that don’t have all the answers to encourage critical thinking and questions. I haven’t read Shhh! We Have a Plan yet, but Sam and Dave Dig a Hole certainly requires pondering!!

    • Avatar
      Tammy and Clare
      Posted at 22:05h, 10 December Reply

      Hi Holly,

      Let us know what you think of Shhh! We Have a Plan. The students we read this text with certainly had lots to say.

      Best
      Tammy and Clare

  • Avatar
    Tara
    Posted at 23:24h, 08 December Reply

    “Why didn’t the bigger hunters listen to the smallest hunter?” Yes, this is a question for all of us to ponder, really. I love books that appear simple but lead us to ask the big questions.

    • Avatar
      Tammy and Clare
      Posted at 22:08h, 10 December Reply

      Hi Tara,

      We love these books too. Short texts like these are also perfect when we want students to practice new types of thinking. Sometimes the short text enables them to understand deeper layers of meaning.

      Best
      Tammy and Clare

  • Avatar
    Linda Baie
    Posted at 01:26h, 09 December Reply

    I loved both books, & read the Sam & Dave one to my middle school students. They were so intrigued, & wondered too about that ending. I love sharing picture books with them, wish they wouldn’t be embarrassed to check out a few from our library. Thanks for the question ideas, too.

    • Avatar
      Tammy and Clare
      Posted at 22:15h, 10 December Reply

      Hi Linda

      I wish they weren’t embarrassed either. There is so much they can learn from reading these short texts. They are lucky to have you reading them aloud.

      Best
      Tammy and Clare

  • Avatar
    Michele Knott
    Posted at 02:34h, 09 December Reply

    Sam and Dave is my new favorite for endings. I love talking about it with the kids. I asked Mac and Jon about it when I was at NCTE and Mac was really passionate about it – he said that not all book have to have solid endings, some can be open. And kids can speculate but they have to use what is said in the text and illustrations – not just make up some strange ideas! I’m sure they’ve heard a few 🙂

    • Avatar
      Tammy and Clare
      Posted at 22:17h, 10 December Reply

      Thank you for sharing Mac’s thoughts. Over Thanksgiving my family was passing it around and reading it. There were lots of interesting theories about the reasons for the ending – Such a thought provoking text.

      Best
      Tammy

  • Avatar
    Melanie Meehan (@MelanieMeehan1)
    Posted at 02:52h, 09 December Reply

    I love the idea of pairing books with common features like surprise endings. I haven’t read these books, but you have intrigued me enough to go seeking them out. Would these go with Each Kindness? Many of our students (and adults, too!) are uncomfortable with the ending.
    Have a great week!

    • Avatar
      Tammy and Clare
      Posted at 22:19h, 10 December Reply

      Hi Melanie,

      We love the idea of pairing these texts with Each Kindness. Now you have us thinking about other books that might be in this text set.

      Best
      Tammy and Clare

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