August 12th is World Elephant Day! It is a perfect time to celebrate earth’s largest land mammal by reading Every Home Needs an Elephant by Jane Heinrichs. Although it is a work of fiction, it is a great starting point to introduce your child to the importance of preserving the world’s elephant population.
List of Reasons Why Buying an Elephant is an Excellent Idea:
(according to Sarah)
- they have good memories
- they are great at carrying groceries
- they care about flowers
Nine-year-old Sarah wants to buy a pet. She’s spent the entire summer at home, lonely and bored. Her mother is an executive who has a strict schedule. She keeps no less than 179 alarm clocks in the house just to make sure everything runs on time. Her father is a clockmaker. He’s always busy sending messages via carrier pigeons. Sarah doesn’t get a lot of attention. If she had a pet, she wouldn’t be lonely.
One day, Sarah sees an advertisement for a pet sale. All pets are half-off! But they aren’t your usual pets. After some thought, Sarah decides on the perfect companion: Mr. Smith, the Zimbazinian elephant.
This is an off-the-wall story that is full of silliness and fun. Despite his size, Mr. Smith is a gentle soul that closely bonds with Sarah. The main theme of the book is friendships, and explores how animals have a way of demonstrating what friendship means much better than humans. Even though he can’t speak, he understands that Sarah is special. He’s happy for the first time since he was taken from Africa. In the real world, poaching is a major threat to the elephant population and Mr. Smith introduces this topic to the reader.
This book is a great choice for children just starting to read chapter books. The pages alternate between solid text and comic panels with bright illustrations. Each chapter is only two or three pages which makes it perfect to take turns reading out loud with your child. Every character in the story has a unique quirk, even Percy the cat. (He speaks Mandarin). There is plenty of opportunity to talk about the differences between the characters. Discussing with your child which one was the funniest or which was the most helpful can help develop their comprehension skills.
Every Home Needs an Elephant is laugh-out-loud story that can help encourage your child’s literacy skills while learning more about the treatment of elephants world-wide.
Photo credit: janeheinrichs.net