Collen -Part 8
The Hunterman and the Crocodile
During the Hunterman digital storytime, there were many comments and moments of spontaneous laughter made by the children during the storytime session. At the end of the storytime, I closed the ICDL book reader on the computer, shut down the projector, asked the children whether they liked the story (many "yeahs"), and asked whether they had any questions about the story. The children asked no questions and made no statements about the navigational picture frame.
The children in this group generated three higher-level questions about the story; two of the questions were text-based.
- Why did the bunny come?
- Are they going to eat the crocodiles?
One question (Why did the bird come?) was based on a completely pictorial component of the story - a bird that is never mentioned in the story, but that appears in the pictures on nine of the double–page spreads.
The Hunterman and the Crocodile is a complex story, and the children in this group needed my help to speculate about the answers to their questions. The children were confused about the ultimate outcome of the story, thinking that the hunterman did in fact eat the crocodiles, even though the crocodiles were not eaten in the end.
I asked three questions:
- Does anybody know what the word "clever" means?
- How many crocodiles were in the story?
- Were there pictures of other animals that you noticed?
The children in the digital storytime, as a group, gave accurate answers to my questions.
For the traditional Hunterman storytime, the children came into the preschool's library and asked about the video cameras; I explained that the cameras were recording so I could remember everything about the storytime when I went home. As the storytime began, and I was paging through the front matter of the story, one child commented, "That looks scary." One teacher commented, "Oh, nice picture," and a child responded, "Of the crocodile." During the actual reading of the story, the children only made one spontaneous comment. There were no other comments and no spontaneous laughter during this storytime.
At the end of this story, I asked the children whether they liked the story, and there was a chorus of "yeahs!" When asked whether they had any questions about the story, the children responded with five separate high- level questions, all of which were text-based questions (no questions based on purely pictorial elements of the story were generated ).
The children asked:
- How could Donso balance the crocodiles on his head?
- Why did the crocodiles eat the man?
- Why didn’t the animals take Donso out of the river?
- Why do people like to eat crocodiles?
- How can a talking tree be a talking tree?
The children themselves speculated on many answers to these questions. The final question of the storytime discussion - how can a talking tree be a talking tree? - produced not only a discussion about a textual element of the story, but also a high-level discussion about the difference between fiction and non-fiction.
Children: Yeah! (many voices)
Child 2: My dad said nothing on cartoons and books are not real, but they, but there are things like that, there are trees, there's everything in the books and cartoons.
Ms. Collen: So what happens in the story when there's a talking tree? Who has an idea? What's your idea?
Child 2: Because they writed it in the story.
Ms. Collen: They wrote it in the story.
Child 2: And they're pretend!
Ms. Collen: They're pretend. Do you think that if you went to the riverbank a tree would talk to you?
Children: No! (many voices)
Child 2: It's just make believe!
Ms. Collen: It's just make believe.
Child 1: I know that it's not ... I know that it's fiction.
Ms. Collen: It's fiction! What a great word to describe make believe!
Child 2: What's fiction?
Ms. Collen: Fiction is when it's what?
Child 1: Pretend.
Ms. Collen: Pretend. And non-fiction is what?
Child 1: Pretend.
Child 1: Real!
Child 2: Not fiction!
Ms. Collen: Real. That's right. That's such a good thing to notice. Such a good thing to notice.
Child #1: It's not real, they just wrote it.
I asked three questions during the poststory discussion.
- How many crocodiles did the hunterman have on his head?
- Did you see any other animals?
- Do you think the crocodiles and the hunterman were friends at the end of the story?
In answering my questions, the children in the traditional storytime, as a group, gave accurate answers to the story-related questions. However, this group was also confused about what happened with the crocodiles and the man at the end of the story.
Based on the poststory discussions for all groups, there did not appear to be a difference in story understanding between the digital and traditional storytimes. The children in both groups engaged in a lively discussion about the stories, generated high-level questions about the stories, and generally answered my questions about the stories. While there was a misunderstanding about the ending of the Hunterman story, the children in both the digital and traditional storytimes had the same misunderstanding, suggesting that the story itself - and not the format of the storytime - caused the misunderstanding.