Books for New Readers: Morris the Moose

Originally published in 1959, 'Morris the Moose' is a picture book that serves as an excellent choice for beginning readers. In addition to helping children learn to read, 'Morris the Moose' also presents a philosophical platform for discussions with your child. This is the first of three books by B. Wiseman to feature Morris.

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Morris the Moose B. Wiseman

About the Story

Morris the Moose begins with Morris spotting a cow. 'You are a funny looking moose,' he says. When the cow says that she is not a moose, Morris points to her four legs, tail and 'things' on her head, just like a moose.

The cow protests, but Morris has an answer for every explanation. When the cow says she provides milk, Morris says that she must be a moose who gives milk. When the cow says her mother was a cow, Morris says that her mother must be a moose.

The cow then asks a deer to tell Morris that she's a cow. The deer surveys the cow and says she must be a deer, because of her four legs, tail and 'things' on her head. The confusion continues when the three animals briefly question a horse, who believes all three to be funny-looking horses.

Finally, Morris, the cow and the deer pause for a drink from a stream. When they all see their own reflections, they realize how different they look from each other. They then know that they are, in fact, a moose, a cow and a deer.

Tips for New Readers

Morris the Moose is written with simple sentences that are often repetitive. There are several key anchor words, including moose, deer and cow, that will help your child move through the story once they are mastered. Focus your child's attention on spotting these words in order to gain comfort with the text.

The pictures can also be helpful for new readers. Many of the lines in the book can be deciphered by studying the pictures. Have your child use the pictures as a guide, especially when the story is familiar and your child needs a reminder of what happens next in the story.

Engaging Young Thinkers

Morris the Moose poses weighty philosophical questions for a reading primer. Morris and the other animals base their beliefs of the world around them on their limited perception. It's clear to the reader that the animals are mistaken, but the animals use logic to defend their errors.

There are many topics you can discuss with your child to explore the larger meaning of what's happening in the story. You can ask about why Morris thinks the cow is a moose and where the flaws in his reasoning occur. Delving deeper, you can ask what it means to be a cow or a moose and why it might matter so deeply to the animals to be correctly identified. You may also discuss why it might be such a challenge for Morris to admit his mistakes and how that can also be difficult in life.

Morris the Moose present a thoughtful and contemplative analysis of the nature of truth. While your child works on reading fluency with the text, stepping back to appreciate the story's depth of meaning can provide an opportunity to exercise different parts of his or her mind. It's also a chance to appreciate the unusually profound questions about the peculiarities of nature and perception.

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