Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Book Review - The Interrupting Chicken

Dinner conversation at our house these days is an event to witness. Everyone has something to say, even if it is not relevant to anything, often all three children are talking at once. I try to moderate:
  • "It's Sissy's turn to talk, please wait."
  • "Make sure no one else is talking before you talk."
  • "Mommy can only hear one person at a time."
I am not always this calm about it. The child hates being interrupted and because of her language processing issues it takes her a while to figure out what she wants to say. If she is interrupted she has to start back at the beginning (yep), and then she has to figure out what she wants to say all over again. You can see why it is upsetting to her. Meanwhile her social skills haven't quite reached the level of knowing when she is dominating the conversation. She rattles on and on and her siblings just want to ask for more bread. Fun times. Really.

I asked for some help from our Speech Pathologist at school, and she recommended this fun story about interrupting. I'm not sure it is quite what I was after, but Interrupting Chicken is a really cute story. The little red chicken is all ready for bed but she wants a bedtime story. Papa agrees to read on the condition that little chicken will not interrupt. You can tell they've been through this before. "I'll be good, Papa." Papa tries three different familiar stories, and each time little red chicken interrupts and "ruins" the story. Papa gives up in exasperation. He is more sleepy than little chicken. He decides to turn the tables and have little chicken tell the story. So she writes a story and reads it to Papa, who interrupts, "ZZZzzzzzzz." Finally we see them snuggled up together fast asleep. This reminds me of our family. Daddy often does the bedtime stories and can read himself to sleep quite easily. Meanwhile the kids are still wired and ready for action.

Taken as its own story, this is a great book, as evidenced by winning a Caldecott Honor Award. The text is engaging and easy to read. The illustrations draw you into the story until you feel like you are in little chicken's room trying to get her to sleep. I really like how the three familiar stories are brought in both in text and illustration. I think it helps the reader understand the impact of the interruption.

For my purposes, I'm not sure this is quite what we need. First, the book isn't about a conversation, but story time. Though not perfect, our kids have gotten a lot better about sitting and listening to a story. All of those trips to the library are starting to pay off, I think. My second hesitation with this book is that there's no clear consequence to little chicken when she interrupts. In fact she kind of gets her way because she wants to stay up later. That's the kind of message I don't want my kids to pick up on. I want them to learn that interrupting is rude and reaps trouble.

So I'm still looking for a tool to help teach my kids polite conversation skills, but if you want a fun read, check out The Interrupting Chicken. If you know of a good book I should check out, let me know in the comments below.


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