On my first read I was struck by the poetic language which helps to create the child’s sense of wonder and discovery. I loved the way Messner compares and contrasts the activities over the snow and under the snow. And, I was not disappointed to find that the author continues to delight us even after the story is finished. In the author’s note she gives a more scientific explanation for the secret kingdom, gives more information about each of the animals mentioned, and suggests resources to find out more about animals in winter. I couldn’t wait to share it with some young readers and find out what they thought!
At school, I gave the book to first grade teacher, Connie Harker, who shared it with her class. As you can expect, her students loved it as much as we both did. In fact one little girl, Willow, suggested that the class could make a book just like that. Together with Connie they brainstormed how that might look, and it wasn’t long before words and ideas were shared and recorded. Over and Under the Snow served as an important mentor text, providing the right scaffold for these young writers to share what they knew or learned.
When students are a part of a writing community, they help to shape the curriculum. When their ideas are honored, they feel a connection to what is going on, and they move forward as writers and learners.