Read Aloud Picture Books: The Umbrella

Jan Brett's picture book, 'The Umbrella,' begins as a story about young Carlos and turns into an adventure following his abandoned umbrella. With rich illustrations and a witty narrative, 'The Umbrella' is a great read aloud story that includes useful opportunities to engage your child.

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About the Story

The Umbrella begins with little Carlos heading off into the cloud forest to look for animals. He quickly drops his umbrella in order to climb a fig tree for a better view. A tiny tree frog jumps into the umbrella, only to be joined by a succession of animals both large and small.

While Carlos is high up in a tree, a toucan, a kinkajou, a tapir and a quetzal all descend into his umbrella alongside the frog. A monkey then tosses the umbrella into a river before jumping in himself. He's followed by a jaguar who scares the other animals and causes the fully loaded umbrella to sink deep into the water.

Finally, a hummingbird lands on the umbrella, causing it to tumble over at last. A short time later, Carlos finds the umbrella after failing to see any of the animals he was seeking. He returns home and set the umbrella down, only to have a small frog jump in.

Jan Brett The Umbrella read aloud books

Ideal for Reading Aloud

Your child will enjoy reading The Umbrella aloud with you for its fun use of language. The animals make a variety of noises throughout the book that you and your child can act out. This includes the blaht of the tapir and the swish of the quetzal's feathers. There are also a variety of terms in Spanish used by the frog.

Your child may also enjoy the vivid artwork in The Umbrella. Jan Brett's lavish illustrations of the jungle setting are full of hidden surprises. Your child may spot each animal hidden in the margins of the page that comes just before it makes its official entrance. This helps young children learn the structure of the story more quickly.

Engaging Your Child

The Umbrella is a great book for learning about animals that might be found in a rain forest. Before beginning the book, ask your child what animals he or she would expect to find. Many of the animals Brett includes, such as the quetzal and kinkajou, are not widely known outside of the jungle. Your child may want to do additional research outside of The Umbrella to learn more about them.

In addition to studying animals, The Umbrella will teach your child about the fascinating diversity found within rain forests. You can use the book as the impetus for further discussion and reading on rain forests. Older children can learn about the dangers rain forests face from development and how they can help preserve these dwindling spots around the world.

Finally, The Umbrella can provide your child with many basic Spanish terms and phrases, which are most often spoken by the frog. Many of these are easy to understand or followed by an English translation. For example, when Froggy says 'Que pasa?' it's followed by 'What is happening?' Using these ideas to engage your child, The Umbrella will prove rewarding and enjoyable on many levels.

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