I like to make my friends laugh by saying that everything I know, I learned from picture books, but in many cases it’s true! The life lessons and knowledge gleaned from picture books are not to be underestimated. It’s easy to see this in most non-fiction books. Pick one up; you’re bound to learn something new. It may not be as easy to see in fiction picture books, but I challenge you (teacher or not, caregiver to little ones or not) to go out and read Out of a Jar by Deborah Marcero.
There is so much wisdom packed in a sparse amount of text in Out of a Jar. Marcero does an excellent job of “showing vs. telling” by allowing the illustrations to give us the story. Check out the pages with the words anger, loneliness, joy and disappointment. Those sentences have only 1 word, but we can see the reason for each of Llewellyn’s feelings in the pictures. She didn’t have to tell us by writing an explanation: “Llewellyn struck out” or “His best friend, Max, brought him a balloon.” She showed us with one word and an illustration. The effect on the reader is more powerful this way. We feel the emotions piling up.
Along with the text, Marcero’s artwork is so visually appealing and beautiful. The colors she uses are soft and gentle; perfect for a picture book about emotions. Young readers will be drawn in by the adorable-looking Llewellyn. Older readers might be tempted to tear out the last spread of the sunset and frame it.
But what happens when we put the text and the illustrations together? Marcero leaves us with a life lesson that is appropriate for any reader of any age. Since we are reading about Llewellyn’s problem (certainly not ours!), we feel safer talking about the emotions he stuffs away and the consequences of doing so.
Someone once told me, “Feelings are feelings. They are neither right nor wrong. They just are.” It’s taken me a long time, and perhaps I’m still not there yet, but I want to be like Llewellyn–courageous enough to acknowledge my feelings, share them if I need to, and gracious enough to accept myself for having those feelings.
Out of a Jar is a picture book worth purchasing. It is a sequel (look for Llewellyn in In a Jar), but it stands on its own. Keep Out of a Jar for yourself whenever you need a good hug. Or give it as a gift.
- What are feelings?
- Why do we have feelings?
- What do we do with our feelings?
- CCSS RL.3.1 Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.
- CCSS RL.3.2 Recount stories…determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
- CCSS.RL.3.3 Describe characters in the story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
- CCSS.RL.3.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, distringuishing literal from nonliteral language.
- CCSS.RL.3.7 Explain how specific aspects of a text’s illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting).
- WIDA ELD-2 English language learners communicate information, ideas and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of language arts.
Companion Activity Suggestion
- Have students draw or find objects that represent a feeling and put them in a jar. In my photo, I used pom poms, string, a black napkin and pipe cleaners. Students can write about their jar or present it. Just make sure students are not being asked to share anything they are not comfortable sharing.
Here is your FREE worksheet for Out of a Jar.
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Have you used this resource or read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts.