I love it when a book surprises you, when it make you as an adult reader consider your world view. I especially love it when I immediately see the mentor text/writing connection with a picture book. This simple book, Like by Annie Barrows and simply but powerfully illustrated by Pura Belpré honor recipient, Leo Espinosa, is at least a triple-threat and at best, a text you will return to again and again.
A book of comparisons that gently guides the reader to the conclusion that all of us, humans on earth are alike in some pretty important ways. On the journey, it allows the reader to consider, Are we like tin cans? Are we like mushrooms? Are we like swimming pools, excavators, hyenas?
How are we like mushrooms? Mushrooms grow. Mushrooms need air and water and food. Mushrooms make more mushrooms. However, mushrooms don’t have anything to say. Mushrooms don’t have mouths. Mushrooms don’t have brains. So we are more like a mushroom than a swimming pool. We are like mushrooms in a few ways, but we are way more different that we are alike.
And so it goes, gentle, thought-provoking comparisons to things children notice and consider every day. Well, perhaps they don’t consider hyenas every day, but they are REALLY interesting. On and on Like continues with closer and closer comparisons to humans.
Inevitably, we as readers are drawn to the conclusion that with all the things in the world, we are so similar to our fellow humans. We have skin. We breathe air, drink water, eat food.
We have to sleep. We both wear clothes (most of the time). We have brains, tell jokes, burp.
I love this book as a quick writing project. Perhaps you bring some objects to the room and let your writers draw comparisons. How are we like a pencil, a stapler, paper? Perhaps you let them draw those comparisons out of those marvelously creative brains. But hopefully, they can reach the same conclusion, we are much more alike than we are different.
As we strive to help students understand themselves and others, this book is as thoughtful as it is simple. Consider the implications for twin-sentence work, comparing characters, thinking deeply and looking closely. Like, a book to drop into your conferring bag.