Multicultural Picture Book

read aloud

"The Old Man and His Door"

"The Old Man and His Door" by Gary Soto and Illustrated by Joe Cepeda was published in 1996 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Publishers.
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The read aloud is planned for third graders. "The Old Man and His Door" is a picture book about an old man whose wife told him to bring "el puerco" -- a pig to a friends barbeque but he thought she said to bring "la puerta" -- a door -- to the party. The old man takes off through the neighborhood carrying his front door and on the way is able to use his door in surprising ways to help others. When the old man eventually arrives at the barbeque he has some explaining to do and some unexpected gifts to share.

The author -- Gary Soto -- was born in 1952 in Fresno, CA. Many people view Gary's writing as autobiographical because he writes a lot about growing up as a Mexican American. Mr. Soto's writings have appeared in many literary magazines such as: Ploughshares, Michigan Quarterly, and Poetry International. Gary Soto has received recognition and honors related to his literary work including:

Los Angeles Times Book Award (finalist), 1995
National Book Award (finalist), 1995
NBC's Person of the Week for Advocacy in Literature, 1997
Literature Award from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, 1999
Author-Illustrator Civil Rights Award from the National Education Association, 1999

The books Illustrator Joe Capeda received his BFA in illustration from California State University. He is the illustrator of awarding-winning picture books such as What a Truly Cool World and Nappy Hair.
Synopsis | The Old Man & His Door By Gary Soto
The Old Man and His Door

Background Preperation of "The Old Man and The Door"

"The Old Man and The Door" is a sweet story that is rich in cultural details. The book is based on a Spanish song about how "el puerco" (the pig) and "la puerta" (the door) sound alike when you're old and deaf. Other elements of culture in the story include items the old man grows in his garden (that you might find in traditional Mexican dishes) such as chiles and tomatoes. The old man also has an avocado tree. This book intermixes Spanish and English words, portrays Mexican charaters in an authentic way, and includes a Spanish to English glossary for terms used in the story. This book Portray cultural accuracy and authenticity of character; honors and celebrates diversity; Includes members of a "minority" group for a purpose other than filling a quota; invites reflection, critical analysis and response; demonstrates unique language and style and has an appealing format and endearing quality.

Procedures for implementing the read aloud and vocabulary

(Setting Expectations): Before the read aloud starts set expectations with the students. Remind them this is a listening activity and that their voice level needs to be at a zero while the story is being read. Reassure them there will be plenty of opportunities during the story for interaction and explain appropriate interactions during those times (ie. voice levels during group interactions, raised hands for individual responses). Discuss movement expectations (sitting still, hands to themselves and respecting others space). Explain that there will be time after the story for questions. Raising hands is an appropriate way and the expectation for asking questions.

(Intro): Today boys and girls we are going to listen to the story “The Old Man & His Door”. “The Old Man & His Door” is a really fun book I found at the library downtown and it has English and Spanish words. So today we are going to get to learn some Spanish words together. Each time we come across a Spanish word in this book, we’ll stop, repeat the Spanish word together and then I’ll tell you what it means in English. As you can see, I’ve put a chart up on the screen so you can follow along.

(Engage/ask a question): Before we get started let me ask everybody a question. I don’t want you to say the answer but give me a thumbs up if your answer is yes and a thumbs down if your answer is no. Has anybody here ever been so busy that you made a mistake or had a hard time listening to an instruction carefully?

(Summarize the story): Okay well in this silly story there is an old man whose wife told him to bring "el puerco" -- a pig -- to a friends barbeque but he thought she said to bring "la puerta" --a door -- to the party. The old man was too busy to listen carefully and he ends up taking off through the neighborhood with a door on his back! On the way, he has many adventures -- all of which require his door for assistance. By the time he gets to the barbeque, he has a few special gifts -- and a funny story to tell.

(Prediction): Boys and girls, what do you think might happen when the old man shows up at the barbeque with a door instead of a pig? How do you think his wife will react? (listen to predictions). We are just going to have to read the story to find out.

(Start the story, point out the author, the title and the illustrator): So let’s get started. Again, the name of this story is “The Old Man & His Door” by Gary Soto – illustrations by Joe Cepeda.

(Engage/ask a question): 1. Who is this? (the old man's wife)

(Engage/ask a question): 2. Where is she going? (She is going to the barbecue.)

(English Vocabulary): Everyone say the word stampeding. A stampede is like a sudden rush of a group of animals, so when this book says the chickens and pigs were stampeding behind that means they were what? (listen to answers)

(English Vocabulary): Everyone say the word peephole. A peephole is a small hole that someone can look through. Like in this picture on the cover, do you see the man looking through the peephole? (listen to answers)

(Engage/ask a question): 3. Look at the little old man boys and girls, it was so nice of him to stop and show concern for these girls. Have you ever stopped to show concern or to help somebody? Give me a thumbs up for yes or a thumbs down for no. (acknowledge their helplfulness).

(Ending question): 4. So did the old man bring what his wife wanted him to?

(Ending question): 5. Was she mad at him or did she forgive him?

Isn’t that nice of her. She could have thrown a fit but instead she made a joke and she had grateful thinking and she valued him for trying. Showing others kindness and giving them encouragement is definitely something we should all try to do, don’t you think? (point out how the womans actions were very respectful. Tie this lesson back to classroom and school expectations for respect. End the read aloud. Thank the class for being so respectful toward you and turn the class back over to the teacher).

Written reflection

Prompt 1: This book was selected because it fit the multicultural criteria of the assignment and because, based on what I knew about the class, I thought they would enjoy hearing the story and learning from it. There are about six children in the class who speak Spanish as a first language. Several of the Spanish speaking students learned English through immersion and do not have a parent at home who speaks English. Some of these students are on track, while others are quiet and hesitant to participate or need special help with reading tests and other activities. I loved this book because it included elements of culture without being "about culture". It depicted a Mexican character who was involved in the plot in an authentic way. This story gave the Spanish speaking children in the class a chance to act as "experts", (a role they don't often get to take) while at the same time, gave the other students a chance to enjoy the story, the characters and have a chance to learn words from another language.

Prompt 2: I think some of strengths of the read aloud were already mentioned in the prompt above. Other strengths include the illustrations which were colorful and fun and gave good contextual clues for the vocabulary words that were presented (pictures of stampeding animals and a picture of the old man looking through a peephole).

Prompt 3: As far as what I would have done differently next time, I would be more prepared for a technology malfunction. I had prepared a Spanish to English translation chart based on the glossary provided in the story. My plan was to put it up using the document camera. Turns out the document camera had a bad bulb and had an error message warning it was near the end of its life. Luckily it was good for the entire day, but, had it not worked, I did not have an alternative chart prepared that would have been easily visible to all the students.

Prompt 4: Implementing multicultural children’s literature that is culturally and linguistically diverse relative to my elementary students has helped me to really think about how to best relate to a classroom based on actual students. I also think an emphasis of multicultural activities across the curriculum can help to foster positive relationships and social interactions among children.