Once upon a time when I was a teacher, my principal popped in for an unannounced observation. I was delighted on this particular occasion because the story that was the basis for my lesson was an interactive storytime gem, and it’s today’s feature #tbt: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything.
Each Thursday I’ll be featuring a book that my parents *could* have read to me as a child (spoiler alert: I’m no spring chicken), so we will go with a publication date of 1988 or earlier; all books must still be in print as of my writing.
Title/author: The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
Copyright date: 1986
Plot in a Sentence (or two): Returning from a late walk in the woods, an old lady comes across various articles of clothing and a pumpkin head who are all trying to scare her; fortunate for the woman, she is not afraid of anything, so she comes up with another solution for the items’ desire to provoke fear: they team up to become a scarecrow.
Why It’s Timeless: This one is a “just spooky enough” story perfect for the preschool and early elementary crowd. The illustrations provide a backdrop for the eerie feeling of the late night walk through the woods, but the bright colors of the animated objects the old lady encounters offset the spooky mood just enough. The repetition, action words, and confident, teasing refrain “I’m not afraid of you” make for a perfect read aloud!
While You’re Reading: The text of this story provides an excellent opportunity to ham it up. Each object along the old lady’s walk home has a natural action to accompany it: the shoes go “clomp clomp,” the pants go “wiggle wiggle,” the shirt goes “shake shake,” etc. This is also a cumulative tale, so the refrain builds as the story progresses. This is great for building your bookworm’s listening memory, and makes for extra fun upon subsequent readings when your bookworm is familiar with the actions. Get into it, and your bookworm is sure to do the same! Yesterday I overheard Preschool Bookworm acting out the story for Baby Bookworm, encouraging him to “clap clap” and “wiggle wiggle”! It was adorable and spoke to the level of the fun in this story. (We hadn’t read it in a few days, so it had clearly stuck with Preschool Bookworm.)
Just for Fun: There are as many creative extension activities as you have time, patience, and interest in pursuing. You can certainly get lost in a book related Pinterest search for a few hours if you so choose. (Don’t ask me how I know that.) But, if you’re like me and Pinterest activities leave you feeling overwhelmed and indecisive, keep it simple! Create a scarecrow for yourself using items you have around the house. Or, reenact the story by taking your own walk; place each scarecrow item (you probably have each, or you can always use paper printouts) around your yard or on a path. When you reach each item, quote and perform its action (“clomp clomp”), and shout out the book’s refrain: “I’m not afraid of you!” This is a simple way to practice sequencing.
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything should be readily available at your local library, or at the affiliate link provided.