I Don’t Want To Be Big by Dev Petty illustrated by Mike Boldt is an engaging children’s book about a frog that doesn’t want to grow up! The book begins with a frog refusing to eat his dinner because he doesn’t want to grow big. The story takes you through the dialogue between the frog and his father and several other characters. Other characters include a large pig and an elephant who try to convince him that growing big doesn’t mean you have to grow up and never have fun again. Each page is colorful and interesting which can help a child stay focused on the story. The speech bubbles are interesting and makes the text “pop out” which can help with literacy and language concepts during a classroom lesson or a therapy session.
Language Concepts: I Don’t Want To Be Big contains many opportunities for learning and language growth. Work on negation! For many children, learning negation can be tricky. What does not mean? This book contains many phrases with the concept of negation such as “I don’t want to be big”, “I can’t stay”, “not really”, and “don’t wear”, “not meeting”. The book is repetitious which helps a child learns specific concepts more easily. Other language concepts include answer “wh” questions such as “What”, “Why” and “When”. Why doesn’t the frog want to grow up? Work on size concepts such as big and small. Who is bigger, the elephant or the frog? How can you tell? As you are reading the story, the main words of specific sentences are highlighted in a different color. Point to those words as you are reading them to emphasize the print in the story. This can help reinforce print awareness. To learn more about print referencing, check out my article here. Expand vocabulary! Vocabulary words such as drawback, inch, huge, and legroom may be unfamiliar to a child and should be defined as you are reading the book.
Adapting the Story for Children with Special Needs: For many children with special needs, adding manipulatives and symbol based communication into the book can help reinforce specific learning concepts. In this book, I Don’t Want to Be Big, I created a variety of manipulatives for the story. First I took several photos of specific characters in the book (e.g. frog, frog’s father, elephant, pig, etc) and printed out the pictures to be used as an educational tool during a lesson with a felt board (I laminated each picture). I then further adapted the book using Boardmaker symbols and created short sentences on each page to help the child learn the main idea of the page and focus on specific vocabulary.
I am excited to include this interview with author Dev Petty and illustrator Mike Boldt to find out what inspired the creators of I Don’t Want to be Big.
What a great question! I have a daughter who’s a bit on the small side…she’s eight and a pretty sharp tack.
One night I was urging her to eat her dinner so she could grow BIG and she said, “I like being small”.
I thought that was really interesting, because we parents sometimes get these certain things in our head- assumptions about what our kids want, but sometimes we’re off. She knows, of course, that she’s going to grow. But she had super reasons for wanting to remain small. So I took out my notebook and wrote em down…being able to surprise people, play hide and seek, fit in small places etc. And when I asked for a bit more about this, she said she wasn’t ready to have an apartment. That’s when I realized that kids might connect growing in size with growing up, and that made for an interesting story.
2. I loved how you emphasized specific words by making them larger and in a different color. This can help facilitate print referencing which can improve literacy concepts in children. How did you choose which words you wanted to highlight? Great question. I suppose when we all read something for the first time, it probably sounds a little different and we naturally emphasize certain words or phrases when they’re not even highlighted. I read Dev’s BIG funny story a number of times before I started drawing. I found it helped me discover the pace and tone of the story, and also to get into “character”. The highlighted words are intended to be the main points to the story, and it’s a very natural selection process that the entire team has input on as the final work develops. These are the key points Little FROG or Big FROG are trying to make, and I hear these characters emphasizing them as they make their case. I do in fact have special voices in my head for all these characters – and not surprisingly, the BIG frog’s voice can sound an awful lot like my own…
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