Book Central: Gus the Asparagus

You’ve heard it said before “read books with your child”, but what they don’t tell you is what books to read and how to read them.  Did you know it’s actually these two things – the what and how – that makes the difference to your child’s development?

We know from research that children who are not read to have a poorer understanding of language, their vocabularies are smaller and their thinking skills are less advanced.  And this means they go on to have trouble learning to read themselves.  So, reading the right books in the right way to your child is critical to their development.

To help you out we’re going to answer the what and how or book reading with one fantastic book and our top three tips to make sure the way you’re reading is improving your child’s listening, talking and thinking skills.

Title of book and author

Gus the Asparagus by Kaylene Hobson and Ann-Marie Finn

What’s it about?

Gus the Asparagus is a heart-warming book about the struggles of fitting in and finding a place of belonging. This story follows Gus, the only asparagus in his family. Gus is a happy asparagus but becomes starkly aware of his differences when he begins school. Despite all his efforts in trying to fit in with the rest of his classmates, he finds himself lonely and out of place. Following a visit to the doctor’s, Gus finds out that he has ‘Asparagus Syndrome’, which means that Gus sees the world a little differently from everyone else. He comes to realise that this makes him unique and that being different doesn’t mean he has to be alone.

Our top 3 tips
1. Talk about the moral or the coda of the story.

The moral of the story is an element of story macrostructure that often gets missed. The moral provides a rounded summary about what the story was about and plays on your child’s skills to infer what the deeper meaning is to a story. Moreover, Gus the Asparagus can be used to develop or extend your child’s social understanding about individuals’ differences and the importance of embracing their unique qualities.

2. Build on your child’s understanding and use of vocabulary.

Gus the Asparagus features a range of Tier 2 words. Tier 2 words are words that can be used universally across different subjects and are not specific to a topic. For example, the word ‘decides’ in the book can be used in a range of situations and is a good replacement for the word ‘chooses’. As a child’s vocabulary expands, they will be able to add colour and spark interest in their oral and written stories.

3. Use your finger to follow along with the characters’ speech in the book.

This can help build on a child’s pre-literacy skills including their ability to follow along with written text. This skill is essential for later independent reading. In addition, adding character voices helps with engaging children into the story and gives a good indication of the use of punctuation marks (e.g., exclamation marks (!) means that we speak loudly or shout). After all, we would love for our children to love reading!

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