A knot in my throat. That’s how I feel at the end of this picture book, each time I read it. The Way Back Home offers insights into friendship, the fear of loneliness, and the value of helping a fellow martian. Or human. Its author, the very talented Oliver Jeffers delivers the story beautifully in words and captures our hearts with his brilliant illustrations.
Want to make like a teacher and take the story further?
The story lends itself to using our “schematic knowledge” which is fancy for making connections. Try sharing some connections you’ve made, – if any, – with your child and ask them to share any they may have. Not everyone can connect with an event in every book they read, but who hasn’t dealt with friendship before? Exactly, so there’ll be lots to talk about.
For children who have a hard time comprehending what they read, give them more support with the way they “make meaning” when they read. So what you can do to help your child if understanding what they read is not their strength, is have them notice the many words in the book which are not part of the Canadian lexicon. Because the author is Irish, you’ll find words like, torch which may have different meanings to Canadians. So a good strategy here (or anytime they come across an unknown word) is to ask your child what they think a particular unknown word to them means by having them re-read and look around the page for clues (such as the pictures and the context of the story). They might be able to make a reasonable guess, if they don’t it’s helpful for you to talk about its possible meanings and check in that s/he gets it. That way they wont “lose meaning” or understanding.
Whether, you need to use those strategies or just relax with the book in a comfy chair, I hope you enjoy the read!