Ivan’s End in Room 215

As it’s been said before, “All good things must come to an end”.  Today, I finished reading aloud The One and Only Ivan to my 5th graders, and I am sad that this experience is over.  I am sad for two reasons.  For one, I totally felt connected with each and every student as I read Ivan.  Kids would put down their own books to listen to me read the sections of Ivan and would perk up when I’d change my voice for a character, or would drop their heads when Ivan had a flashback of life in the Congo.  The second reason is the discussions we’d have after reading.  I learned so much about my kids’ insight on animal behavior and their habitats.  Some of these topics are in our NC Standard Course of Study for science: ecosystems.  How great has it been to have students relate their science vocabulary to an exciting piece of literature for the past couple of weeks?  I have never had so many kids so excited for me a read aloud one story.  Our past read alouds, The Watson’s Go to Birmingham and Matilda didn’t touchIvan.  I think there’s a strong correlation between kids and animals, because they all wanted more!

After we finished today, I had multiple hands shoot up, wanting to share their thoughts and ideas behind reasoning throughout the story.  One student shared that he they knew this story would end “happily ever after, because Julia will be at the zoo with her dad while Bob sleeps on Ivan’s tummy and George works.”  Just the other day, my kids hooted and hollered when Ruby thrashed her trunk about to stop Mack from repremanding her with the claw.  They questioned why Ivan “slept” when he was put in his new cage to go to the zoo, and our discussion lead to the fact that although gentle and kind, Ivan was still a large gorilla with the capacity to tear into silverback mode at any time.  I had students wanting to visit the website, to see photos and videos of gorillas in the wild.  One student even mentioned the release of a new Disneynature film called “Chimpanzee” which will air on April 20th, 2012, or Earth Day (Click to view and enjoy a playful orphan chimp named Oscar)  This book has opened the door for other types of literacy to surface, because you know what the next question was, “What are we going to read next?”


Those words are music to my ears.



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  1. Dear Ms. Hennings,
    I am so thrilled that your students liked The One and Only Ivan. It is such a spectacular book. Sometimes books touch an emotional place inside a person, and it sounds like from your posts that this book stirred that kind of response from many of your students. Katherine Applegate is a very talented author!
    Thank you for leaving a message about Ivan on our blog! These kinds of connections mean so much to me.
    Julie Hembree

    | Reply Posted 8 years, 2 months ago

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