Update: The Leopard and the Monkey won the Extensive Reading Foundation‘s 2015 Language Learner Literature Awards in the Very Young Learners category as it was announced on 20th September 2015 at the Third World Congress on Extensive Reading in Dubai.
Let’s see what this story is about and what makes it a fascinating reading experience for young learners. We have asked Richard Northcott, the author of the Young Reader to tell us about this story.
“Many cultures have stories in which a small animal outwits a large and dangerous animal. This version, which comes from Zaïre, is less known than others, so I find that children read and listen with extra attention. Young learners identify with the baby monkey. At the same time, they can see he is being tricked by the leopard. They want to shout: ‘Don’t help the leopard. He isn’t really your friend.’ This creates tension in the classroom – tension of a good sort! The children are keen to know how the baby monkey will get out of the fix he is in. In the end, it’s the wise old tortoise who sorts the whole thing out. You feel he’s seen it all before.”
What did the ERF judges think of the book?
“The book presents an African folktale with a simple yet compelling narrative without over-selling humor or morals. It has a simple cast of characters which will be easy for VYL (Very Young Learner) children to follow. Usefully, the tale has analogues in other folk literatures (see, for example, the Korean tale about the ungrateful tiger). The vocabulary is controlled and appropriately limited, but there is enough variation in sentence type to make the reading, especially reading aloud, entertaining and dramatic. The illustrations and layout are attractive and distinctive.” (Source: ERF LLL Award 2015)
What resources are available for your reading lesson?
- Before reading the story, download the flashcards from the Helbling Young Readers website. Read our tips on using the flashcards. (Both resources are available free of charge under ‘Teacher’s Resources’.)
- Do the Playstation activities before and after reading the story, and remember the Project on the last page of the reader.
- Do the Reading & Writing, Reading & Consolidation and Reading & Listening worksheets – all available on the Young Readers website.
Some useful tips
- Read and reread the story several times, and let your students respond to the text.
- Retell the story with your own words.
- Stop to observe the illustrations. Count the number of monkeys. Practise prepositions and colours.
- You can also do a small role play. Set the scene for your students: some of them can be the little monkeys, one of them can be the leopard, and someone can be the tortoise. Replay the scene several times, and let them rotate the roles.
Would you like to know more about Cristiano Lissoni, the illustrator of the book?
- Read our interview with him: Meet the illustrator: Cristiano Lissoni
- Visit his website: Cristiano Lissoni official website.
For more on reading with Young Learners, visit our posts:
- The power of folktales in the language classroom
- 6 Strategies for Reading with Young Learners
- 10 Tips to Keep Your Young Readers Enthusiastic
- Themes in Young Readers Part 1: Daily Life, Magic and Mythology
- Themes in Young Readers 2: the Natural World and the Environment
- 5 New Themes for Young Readers
- Visual Storytelling with Helbling Young Readers