The Power of One Word


Earlier this year I was intrigued by a blog post from Tammy over at Forever in First.  She wrote about the book Moo!  After checking it out myself, reading it to my students, watching my students read it over and over, I witnessed the power that one single word (plus punctuation) can have!  And this only led to more books...
David LaRochelle, the author of Moo!, weaves a humorous story about a cow and a car through one word.  Well...and with the help of some text features and punctuation, of course!  Here is an example:


Look at that!  I just love it.  The story continues from this point but with only the use of "Moo." As the reader, you have no choice but to use the punctuation and text features to get the meaning of the story across, which is fantastic for a first grader learning to read with expression!

My favorite question to ask my students was "What do you think the cow is trying to say?"  This was very telling to me.  I was able to quickly determine if my students could infer based on the picture and the way that the word "Moo" looked on the page.

Another great question to ask when using this text is "What information are you gathering from the picture versus the words?"  The author does an amazing job of expressing so much through one word.  But the reader can not gather an understanding of the story if not for the pictures, punctuation, and creative typography. 

But the best part about checking out this book...hearing my students read it during their station time.  It was read with so much enthusiasm, expression, and excitement.  The actual reading of this book was unplanned, on a whim, and soooo worthwhile!

Due to this excitement and the great learning that took place, I was intrigued to find out what other books were out there that told a story with only one word.  Here is what I found:

Ball by Mary Sullivan is about a dog and his ball.  The story goes through one day in time with the dog and his efforts to play with his ball.  The use of punctuation, movement marks, and speech bubbles are powerful in this story.  Panels also help to shape and tell this story.

Banana by Ed Vere actually uses two words: banana and please.  Two monkeys and one banana says it all.  The use of punctuation and emotion within the pictures tells this story.

Ah Ha! by Jeff Mack was another book that I found; however, it sets itself apart from the books above because it only uses two letters "A" and "H".  The author tells the entire story of a frog and his journey to not be caught by another creature.  Speech bubbles, through bubbles, illustrations, and two letters tell this whole story!

Each of these stories hold power.  The power to tell a story.  The power to read with expression.  The power to build confidence in our young readers.  And it was exciting to witness this first hand!






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