Night in the Country

November Theme:  Cynthia Rylant picture books Six Traits: Organization (Varied Endings)

Surprise Endings
What does night in the country sound like?  As people fall asleep inside, the animals wake up outside and begin their night.
Another touchstone text in my classroom was Night in the Country by Cynthia Rylant.   I used this book to teach both sensory details and surprise endings.  Rylant lyrically describes how the animals wake up and what they do at night.  “And toward morning, one small bird will be the first to tell everyone that night in the country is nearly over.”  What happens when night becomes morning?  How will the book end?
Lesson idea: Gather 5-10 books that are models of different endings and have students analyze the endings.  Have students analyze several books that have surprise endings.  Have them practice writing surprise endings in their own writing.

Over the next month, I will review additional Cynthia Rylant books that have different types of endings.   What books do you use to teach writers’ craft?  Do you have any touchstone texts or touchstone authors?

©2009 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books.

Night in the Country by Cynthia Rylant

What are the sounds you hear on a dark, quiet country night? The nightime world awakens as the people in the country sleep. Listen carefully, you might miss something.

Sensory Details
This book uses sensory details to make you feel like you are actually in the country. Lesson Idea: Read aloud the text and model for students how to find the various sensory details the author uses to make the story “come to life.” Create a chart (large enough for everyone to see) with various senses (hearing, seeing, smelling, etc.) and boxes to note the text. As you read aloud the text, stop when you come to details that make you use your senses. Write in the box for the correct sense the text that made you use that sense. Students can use the chart as a resource for their own writing.