Stirring Up Excitement for Literacy with "Bunny Cakes"

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Stirring Up Excitement for Literacy with "Bunny Cakes" 05.19.2014

Posted by: Hillary Roselund

Hillary Roselund is the National Program Director at Jumpstart. 

“They picked BUNNY CAKES? It’s my favorite!”

My four-year-old son Tyler responded with absolute glee to the announcement of this year’s Jumpstart's Read for the Record® book. An unabashed Rosemary Wells fan, he knows exactly where her books live on the shelf at the local library. It is not unusual for us to have a stack of her Max & Ruby stories in our book bin, which we read and re-read until we can both recite the words from memory. I guarantee that Bunny Cakes, which involves a birthday, an earthworm cake, and red-hot marshmallow squirters is a winning choice for preschoolers.

“Oh no, Max is making a mess again!” says Tyler when we turn the pages of Bunny Cakes. The loveable and accident-prone bunny Max spills first the eggs, then the milk, and the flour. Bossy big sister Ruby sends him on multiple trips back to the grocer for ingredients to bake Grandma’s special birthday cake. Meanwhile, Max has other ideas for Grandma’s cake and embarks on a determined mission to communicate his request to the grocer. The bright, colorful pictures and the true-to-life sibling rivalry between Max and Ruby make this story resonate with young children.

“F..f..f..flour. F-L-O-U-R” Tyler sounds out the letters and points to the word on Ruby’s handwritten grocery list. When Tyler and I read Bunny Cakes, I watch his print knowledge explode before my very eyes. The story uses Ruby’s grocery lists to creatively teach meaning and use of print, one of Jumpstart’s target language and literacy skills. Moreover, Max’s scribbles and picture of his desired marshmallow squirters celebrates a little bunny’s discovery of print as a way to communicate a message, a key understanding that Jumpstart supports daily in our sessions with children.

Having a child of Jumpstart age has reconfirmed for me the importance of Jumpstart’s work, and using Read for the Record as a vehicle for putting the spotlight on reading with young children. Beyond Max and Ruby’s adventures in baking, Bunny Cakes is about Max’s mission to have his marks on paper understood. Motivating and inspiring children to see reading and writing as a way to make meaning in the world are the very essence behind what we do at Jumpstart. I’m excited to take Bunny Cakes from a story shared between me and my child to one shared between adults and children around the country. Read with me and Tyler this fall on Tuesday, October 21st!

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