When I taught first grade in Charlotte two years ago, my students loved Henry and Mudge! The use of sight words and predictable, repetitive text made the books easy for students to read, and the stories between the covers made the books engaging! Even as a third grade teacher now, I find that my students still love Henry and Mudge, and I have used some of the books for my struggling guided reading groups, along with a dog craftivity on which the students retell the book in a sequence. I'd never actually read THE first book until this analysis, and as I did, I took note of what elements make it so popular among children.
|What child wouldn't want to have a lovable,|
loyal, GIANT friendship like the one shared
between Henry and Mudge?
First, as I mentioned briefly already, Henry and Mudge is a manageable read for children just learning how to read due to its repetition. For example, in the beginning of the book, Cynthia Rylant wrote, "I want ____," he told his parents. "Sorry," they said. These two lines are repeated three times on the first few pages. This sort of repetition is used throughout the book, and I think students will want to read it over and over again because of that.
While Henry and Mudge is labeled as a "Ready-to-Read" book by its publisher and does contain mostly simple language, the story is still interesting to young audiences. Further, it includes the common elements seen in a fiction book: characters, settings, a small problem, and a simple solution. Thus, it's an excellent choice to teach summarizing with students, and there are opportunities for students to predict what will happen next as they read through a suspenseful scene in the book.
Henry and Mudge is a book that children will be able to relate to. Henry is a young boy that wants a friend. He finds a friend in his pup! Most children that I have worked with love dogs and either have a pet canine or wish to. They enjoy seeing a child just like them getting to take on this responsibility. Additionally, the series of Henry and Mudge lets children take a deeper look into the friendship of Henry and Mudge so that they, too, feel a part of it.
Of course, this book also feels special for students because it is probably one of the first "chapter books" that they will ever read. It shows them what a Table of Contents is and gives them direct experience using it.
|Pointy-eared dogs are special, too!|
|Well, I can't very well share one|
pup and not the other!