You Oughta Know Those Shoes

I always love a new story. I especially love a new story about people (sorry, animal characters, I dig you, too). But I really, REALLY love a new story about kids. I love to end my character unit using the story Those Shoes. This story isn't just cute, sweet, touching, and well written, it makes deeper issues available to children.

Let me explain:
This story revolves around a little guy names Jeremy. He desperately wants a pair of the newest trendy shoes. Everyone has a pair but him. To make matters worse, his pair of shoes falls apart and his replacement pair are even less desirable! Jeremy finally talks him grandma into going to the store to look for shoes. They end up finding a pair at the thrift shop that are too small. After several days of pain, Jeremy gives up and wears the old shoes. It seems that the other kids are laughing at him... all but Antonio whose shoe is also falling apart and taped up.
***Spoiler Alert***
Jeremy notices that Antonio's feet are smaller and gifts the shoes he's coveted to Antonio. Jeremy and Antonio seem to have an understanding and begin a friendship. 

Here's why I like this story. It isn't just one lesson.
If we are talking:
close read,
character unit,
descriptive language, 
zooming in on tiny moments,

social studies connections,
or empathy,
this has it covered!
At first, it appears to kids to be a story about being nice. Then, you can dig in and really explore the reasons why Jeremy acts as he does (both with the too-small shoes and giving them away). But you can take it a little deeper and discuss his grandma who has some noteworthy moments. There is a natural needs vs. wants opportunity. The list goes on!

First, just read the story. That's it! Just enjoy the story for the sake of the story.

Then, read it again and do a written activity before you share as a group. I do ask them to think about the characters this time. Again, it's a great way to close out our characters unit! Depending on the class, I have even assigned them a different character to follow. I split the group into 3 and give them a paper with specific questions for Jeremy, Grandma, or Antonio. 

The next time, ask them to think about the lesson the author wants you to learn. Let the conversation go in whichever direction it takes.
When I did it this week, one student insisted that the story was about taking care of your friends, while another student stuck by his word that the lesson to be learned was not to worry about what you wear. 
Then a third student raised her hand and asked, "Can there be more than one lesson in this story?"
Deep, huh?! 

Check out some of the written responses:

If you are looking for an affordable version of the book, you can nab it here with my Amazon Affiliates link. It was just $6.00 in paperback when I looked (but I've heard these things change from time to time?!)

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Happy Knowing!


Wiggling Scholars7 Comments