Before looking through this book with families, point out that it is a retelling of a popular folk story—one that was passed down orally rather than in books. Remind families that telling stories is one way families teach children literacy skills (listening, remembering, talking). If there is time, try retelling The Little Red Hen as a group activity. But with or without such an introduction, this vividly illustrated book provides many opportunities for parents and children to have meaningful conversations, and a great chance for parents to be the listeners. There are plenty of illustrated details parents can ask children to interpret, e.g., based on the picture on the first page, “What has Ruby been planning as she plays in the bathroom?” Children might also enjoy figuring out what some of the sayings in the story mean, e.g., “What is a ‘mind full of ideas’” or a look that would ‘melt popsicles?’” Ask children: Can you make your face look like that?
Because of the twists in this new telling of The Little Red Hen, families will be introduced to examples of building supportive family relationships: three generations of a family working together on a project, females succeeding in non-traditional jobs, cooperation among siblings, and as suggested at the end of the book, inviting children to engage in creative play by building their own forts.