My Chair
by Betsy James
Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic 2004
ISBN 0-439-44421-7
 
 
My Chair is a joyful celebration of imaginative play;  there are real and imagined elements
in each illustration. My Chair is also about the experience of being an individual within a community.
Your students will have experience with that in their families, neighborhoods, and in their classroom
 
Pre-reading activities
Each child’s chair is their own “piece of place” according to author Betsy James.
In My Chair, each child shares their dreams and/or ideas with their friends.
Each child’s unique contribution enriches the group experience.
 
Ask about experiences with imaginative play:
 
Chart and compare:
 
Discuss:
 
Social Studies
One of the working titles was “Will There Be Room for Rosa?” which spotlighted
the new baby who arrives at the end of the story, and acknowledges the mixed feelings
possible when thinking about making room for a new sibling.
 
Look at the illustrations and discuss:
How do they welcome the baby?
 
What is imagined and what is real?
 
Math
 
Science
Investigate:
These activities are seen in the book. Try one!
 
Language
 In the text, chairs are described in these ways:
“…like a chipmunk”
“…like a horse or a train”
“…like eyeglasses”
Chairs are also described by the noises they make, and by means of
anthropomorphism: “my chair…has elbows and pointy knees”
“I consider what’s fair”
“a place where grownups aren’t”
“all the caves in the world, all the darkness, and the safest treasure.”
“When the world is too big, my chair is just right.”
 
Art
As an illustrator, I try to extend the text beyond what the words actually say.
This involves creating a ‘world’—an environment, characters, and sometimes
embedded visual story lines. My Chair is a text that offered a particularly rich opportunity to do this.
Examine the illustrations to develop visual literacy skills.
Investigate:
 
Art/Movement/Music
The children in the story amuse themselves and each other with their imagination
and (mostly) home-made toys. Your class can make/do these toys/activities themselves: