Over the last few months, I’ve slowly introduced Little G to chapter books, beginning with Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo, part of the Mercy Watson book series about the adventures of an always-hungry pet pig. With memorable characters and vivid illustrations that support comprehension of higher-level language concepts, this series is particularly great for four-and-a-half to six-year-old listeners.
Identifying and discussing an author’s use of imagery is a great shared reading activity for parents to do with older preschool and kindergarten children. In Mercy Watson to the Rescue, DiCamillo uses imagery when she compares the comfort Mercy feels when she hears her parents sing a goodnight song to the same feeling she gets when she eats her favorite food:
“This song makes Mercy feel warm inside, as if she has just eaten hot toast with a great deal of butter on it.”
Review this passage with your child and talk about the routines or foods that give you both comfort. Little G volunteered that she feels “warm like buttered toast” when I sing a specific good morning song and she’s asked me to keep singing it every day. I shared with her how much I enjoy having my morning cup of coffee because it provides comfort and routine in my life.
The characters in the Mercy Watson series also offer a fun opportunity for parents reading aloud to do voices. Using different character voices can increase a child’s comprehension by supporting greater perspective-taking. When I read this story, I change my voice to cast Mr. and Mrs. Watson as adoring Southern parents, Baby Lincoln as a gentle pushover, and Eugenia Lincoln as a domineering matriarch.
A delicious home activity inspired by the book is to have a toast tasting party. We toasted four types of bread, “buttered them a great deal“, piled the slices high, and ate them. Little G was surprised by how much she liked the sour dough toast, and we both agreed that Mercy Watson has excellent taste.
If you end up loving the Mercy Watson series as much as we do, you may want to check out Kate DiCamillo’s prequel: A Piglet Named Mercy.