For Parents

Reading Corner: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

#For Parents

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

How (or wherefore) do we love this book? Let me count the ways!

We love this book for the rhythm of the language.

Whether you choose to almost-sing it like I do, or read it with more of a conspiratorial tone like Ms Becky does, this book captures the spirit of adventure from its very first lines. You can chant those lines with children going almost anywhere—up a big hill, down a corridor, sitting in a car—and it makes the journey or wait immediately more fun.

We love this book for its use of repetition.

At our recent Poetry Day sessions at local primary schools, we’ve been talking a lot about what poets love, and repetition—of sounds, words, phrases, images, entire lines—comes up again and again. Between the rhythm and the repetition, though, one of the beautiful things about this book is how catchy it is—for both readers and listeners. Even children hearing it for the very first time catch on quickly and are soon able to join in the refrain.

We love this book for the sound effects.

What a great and simple introduction to onomatopoeia and how it brings each scene to life. Plus , it adds SO much enjoyment to the reading and listening of this story. Swishy swashy, swishy swashy...

We love this book for the message.

Sometimes in life, you encounter things that you might much rather go over or around, but you just have to go through...

And we love this book for the giggle at the end every time we read it when “we” forget to shut the door and have to run back downstairs again—so classic. I feel like that’s exactly the kind of thing I’d do if I were in a mad rush to escape from a bear!

Using this book as inspiration

Because the lines of this book are so easy to remember and the structure simple to follow, there is so much you can do with it when it comes to creating stories with children. It can be as simple as going on a hunt for something else, adding some different settings along the way, or a combination of both!

In an activity I did with my son’s class, we used the book as inspiration for our own collaborative book where we went on a treasure hunt, incorporating their unit of study, “Under the Sea”. The children decided we would travel by underwater bus, imagined all the different creatures we saw, sounds we heard, and treasures (and trash!) we found along the way!

Give it a go with your child — get your adventuring voice on, and invite them to make their own variation of the story with you.

“Let’s go! We’re... going on a _____ hunt! We’re going to catch/find a big one! What a beautiful day! We’re not scared! Uh oh...”

Think about where you will go, what you hear or feel in each place, and have some fun making the sound effects and acting it out!

And don’t worry if your child only wants to make up a couple bits of the story with you and then seems ready to move on to play or do something else. Remember, the goal here is to connect and enjoy time together, playing with language and storytelling. Follow their lead!