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Storytelling with Gooney Bird Greene

written by: Marlene Gundlach • edited by: Sarah Malburg • updated: 9/11/2012

"Gooney Bird Greene" by Lois Lowry is a colorful tale about an eccentric young second grader who loves to tell stories. Her inventive use of word choice has her friends on the edge of her seats as she shares her daily stories. Students can learn a great deal about storytelling from this great book.

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    Summary of the Book

    Gooney Bird Greene makes a grand entrance into her new second grade classroom and takes charge right away. Her classmates are immediately enamored with her eccentric appearance and her many wild stories. Mrs. Pidgeon allows Gooney to share some of her stories and adventures. She has a knack of taking a simple story and by her choice of words, can make that simple story sound like an elaborate adventure.

    The activities below will give your class practice in storytelling, with a focus on word choice. By choosing the right words, their everyday events will also become fantastic adventures.

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    What's in a Name

    Gooney Bird's first story is about how she got her unusual name. She shares that her parents names were Gordon and Barbara, andGooney bird Greene  they wanted to name their child using their initials. After she was born, her parents felt she looked like bird they once saw, wriggling her neck looking for food.

    Instruct your students that they will make up a story about how they got their name. They should come up with a background story about when they were born and why their parents choose their name. Students can share their stories with their classmates, just as Gooney Bird shares her stories with her classmates.

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    Storytelling Tips

    As you read Gooney Bird's stories, point out to students examples of how Gooney Bird uses word choice to make her stories sound extraordinary. One example is when she tells the story of "How Gooney Bird Came from China on a Flying Carpet." She shared that her family moved from China to Watertown, where she lives now. By story's end, we learn that China is actually China, Maine and she fell out of the family station wagon rolled up in a carpet.

    Another story titled "Why Gooney Bird Was Late for School Because she was Directing a Symphony Orchestra" has Gooney leading an Orchestra down main street. In reality, she got on a bus and gave the Orchestra directions to where they were performing.

    In all of Gooney Bird's stories, the title is the first step in setting up her story. She chooses her words carefully and hooks her readers. As you read the book with your class, point out how she accomplished her task each time. Ask your students to come up with their own stories, working to take an everyday event and make it sound like a grand adventure. Again, just like Gooney Bird, invite students to share their stories with the class. They should also share how they carefully chose their words to change their story from simple to eccentric.