Hameray Classroom Literacy Blog

Reading to Develop Emotional Literacy: Afraid

This is the fifth and last post in a series about reading narrative books to develop emotional literacy. For the first post (introduction),   click here . Click the links for the   second   (happy),   third  (sad), and   fourth  post (angry).


This weekly blog series discusses how reading narrative books helps students develop both emotional and literary skills. Today's post will focus on the fifth and last basic human emotion:  fear . Since Halloween is only a month away, a discussion about fear will help students prepare for this spooky event!

The Man Who Was Afraid of Ants    from the   Kaleidoscope Collection   features Jake, a firefighter who abhors ants. With an adult as the protagonist of the book, students can realize that everyone, even adults and community helpers, all feel scared sometimes. The book's subtle narration will provide an appropriate challenge for your students to utilize the emotional and literacy skills they have developed over the past 5 weeks. 


Discussion points:

p. 2:

  • Look at the illustration of Jake.   What words would you use to describe him? How do you think he is feeling?
p. 3:
  • Does Jake look different in this illustration? How do you think he is feeling now?
  • How does Jake act when he is afraid?   (His nose itches, his finger twitches, he gets a creepy feeling)
  • As a class, brainstorm other reactions that your students have when they are afraid (sweating, butterflies in the stomach, faster heartbeat).
  • Many of your students may laugh when they see Jake’s scared face. Remind your students that what might not be scary for one person might be for another, so it’s impolite to laugh at someone’s fears or call them a scaredy-cat.
p. 7:
  • Why did Jake leave the picnic?
p. 8-12:
  • How did Jake overcome his fear of ants?
  • Why do you think Jake was afraid of ants?   This question requires children to empathize with the character and brainstorm possible origins of a fear.
  • In pairs, have students discuss their own fears. Identifying and putting fears into words will help students feel agency over them. If your students are feeling shy, share one of your fears with the class. Recognizing that they aren’t alone in their scared feelings will encourage students to speak up. 

Writing exercise:

  • Have students complete the sentence “I am scared of ___.” and draw an accompanying picture. Again, illustrating allows students to feel more powerful over the fear.

Today's post concludes this blog series on simultaneously developing emotional and literacy skills. What are other ways that you teach emotional skills through reading? Which emotions would you like to see featured in the future? Let us know in the comments below!


Click the image below to download a informational sheet about the   Kaleidoscope Collection , which includes the book featured in this article.