There Was A Tree

Author: Rachel Isadora

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ISBN: 9780399257414

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Binding: Hardcover

Year Distributed: 2014 - 2015

Availability: Past Books

Themes/Topics: Songs, Animals, Colors

Book Acticity

A favorite children's song also known as "The Green Grass Grew All Around" is presented in a tribute to African wildlife and culture. "The prettiest tree that you ever did see" is depicted a bountiful acacia tree that houses a starling egg about to hatch. Look for the rebus icons for repeated words! "A read-aloud, sing-along delight." -Kirkus Review


Age Group 3 years

What’s Happening at this Age

  • Knowing the correct way to hold and handle a book
  • Understanding that words are read from left to right and pages are read from top to bottom
  • Starting to notice words that rhyme and enjoys participating in rhyming games
  • Retelling stories
  • Recognizing some of the letters of the alphabet
  • Starting to match letter sounds to letters (like knowing b makes a /b/ sound)
  • May start to recognize their name in print and other often-seen words, like those on signs
  • Beginning to understand that print carries a message

Your child has been hearing and studying the sounds of words for quite a while now. One of the tasks of emergent literacy is to be able to hear individual sounds, to make sounds, and to put sounds together to make words. When we start to play with the letters of our language, we can help our children learn that each letter represents a unique sound or sounds and when we put letters together, they can make different sounds. This is necessary for learning to read. Playing with the sounds of words by singing, reading rhyming books and playing word games can help your child master these letter-sound connections and put them on a path to reading success!

Click here to see a full list of milestones for your 3-year-old as well as tips and activities for you and your child!

Why did we select this book?

Both the bold, bright illustrations and the setting of this traditional American song in Africa drew us to this book. The best thing about this book is the picture cues in the text. This is called a rebus and it invites your child to read along with you by looking at the picture and saying the word. This is an early form of reading and is great practice for children starting to understand that text stands for the words we say. In this case, the picture stands for the word we say. This understanding of representation is a critical phase in literacy development that you can support just by having fun together!


Book Acticity
Related Activities

As with any picture book that is based on a song, consider listening to the song online to learn how to sing it or even how to have the rhythm of the song effect how you read the book aloud. This book repeats a lot of the same words. The repeated lines are there to invite your child to become part of the reading. Tell your child you are going to read this book together. Let him guess what happens next and congratulate them when they get it right. Knowing what happens next or knowing a word, builds your child’s confidence. When confidence is linked to books in their mind, they will become a stronger learner.


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