Just like in informational texts there are often words in and around pictures in fiction stories as well. One goal I have for my students is to slow down as they read and really notice all the rich detail that texts have to offer.
Kevin Henkes books are perfect for teaching to this goal. His books contain lots of "hidden hints" - words that show up in unexpected places and add meaning to the text. This is true in the story we have been working with this week, Wemberly Worried. To comprehend this book (along with other Kevin Henkes books and many other examples in literature and informational text), students need to learn how to look beyond the text, and use the pictures and these "hidden hints" to help them understand what the author is trying to tell them. If this isn't explicitly taught, students are likely to pass this over and miss key information in the story. This explicit instruction is what this lesson is all about.
Today I ask my students what we call the words in and around pictures that we find in informational texts. "Captions." I tell them that we are going to be looking at the captions in the story we have been working with, Wemberly Worried. They will help us figure out more about what the author is trying to tell us about Wemberly.
The illustrations in this text include captions that highlight Wemberly’s thinking. We will be looking at the first few pages together to decipher what the captions and illustrations are telling us about Wemberly.
For example on page 2 the words on the page read "Big things." Then we look at the caption pointing to Wemberly says, "I wanted to make sure you were still here." She has a flashlight looking at her parents in their bedroom. We talk about what "big things" is this telling us that she is worried about. It tells us that she is worried about being alone, the dark, her parents leaving ... The next few pages talk about more things she is worried about. The words tell us the things that she is worried about, but the captions tell us why she is worried about them.
Here is the chart we created: Wemberly caption chart.
To help students make the connection that these can be found in other texts as well, I have them create their own page that could be found in a book. This allows them to create what they would be looking for in a text. It also allows me see who understands the concept of a picture showing what the words mean. I encourage them to keep the sentence short, but have the picture show tell the story. Later we will turn it into a class book of worries.
Students create their own page (student's name's Worried). On this page they will include something that they are worried about. Included will be a caption that tells us the "why" the student is worried about that thing, and a picture showing what they are worried about in more detail.
Here are some examples:
Students share their page with their sentence and picture with the caption. The class then tells what they are worried about and why.