Read Aloud Series to Engage Your Child: Skippyjon Jones
Aug 02, 2011
Skippyjon Jones is the star of a popular series of picture books that are perfect for reading aloud with your child. In fact, the first book in the series won the E.B. White Read Aloud Award from the Association of Booksellers for Children. The Skippyjon Jones books aren't only fun to read aloud, they're also educational, teaching basic Spanish in an easy to understand format.
About the Series
Judith Schachner published Skippyjon Jones, the first book in the series, in 2003. Each Skippyjon Jones book follows the adventures of a Siamese kitten whose ears are so large that he looks like a Chihuahua. His imagination is as oversized as his ears. Whenever he gets sent to his room by his mother, which happens with regularity, he transforms into Skippito Friskito, a legendary sword-fighting Chihuahua.
Skippyjon Jones is tormented in his real life by his three sisters, Jezebel, Jillyboo and Ju Ju Bee. Yet in his imaginary adventures, he's joined by a friendly band of Chihuahuas known as Los Chimichangos. He relies on his uncommon cunning, as well as the rhyming songs and chants he creates to help him through trouble. His language mixes English, Spanish and some words that are a hybrid of both languages. The stories often end with Skippyjon Jones emerging from his imagination to find himself playing with ordinary objects around the house, with his sisters typically mocking his silly behavior.
Schachner has released over a dozen books featuring Skippyjon Jones. These include escapades involving a monster known as the big Bobble-ito, a tyrannosaurus rex named T-Mex and a trip to a spicy red pepper-covered Mars. Skippyjon Jones also stars in a series of board books that teach things like colors and direction words.
An Unusual Spanish Lesson
The Skippyjon Jones book are colorful, witty and exciting. The artwork bursts off the page with a frenzy that matches the character at its center. Mixed in with this zany atmosphere are deceptively useful Spanish language lessons.
Unlike other children's books that more overtly focus on teaching a language through direct instruction, the Skippyjon Jones books intersperse common Spanish words and phrases with English. This helps readers learn Spanish more naturally. Often, the use of Spanish is handled differently from line to line, as is evident in a brief passage from Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble.
In that story, one line adds a single word of Spanish that can be deciphered through the context of the English words around it. When told about amazing peas, Skippyjon Jones asks, 'You mean they are better than the frijoles?' It may not be clear that frijoles are beans, but it's evident that they're a food that's in some way comparable to peas.
Poquito Tito responds in the next line entirely in Spanish, 'Si, mucho mejor, senor.' Within the context of the story, Poquito Tito's sentence can be translated piece by piece, beginning with 'Si', which must mean 'Yes.' With 'mucho mejor,' 'mucho' sounds like 'much' and that makes 'mejor' logically 'better' or 'more.' Finally, 'senor' is Poquito Tito's way of acknowledging Skippyjon Jones.
The comical nature of the Skippyjon Jones stories, combined with the unusual method of teaching Spanish, makes language learning less intimidating. For a child with little to no knowledge of Spanish, or a child who has been uncomfortable with learning a second language, the Skippyjon Jones books provide a fun entryway. As a perk, they're also a delight to read aloud.
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