Author Richard Van Camp's "What's the Most Beautiful Thing You Know About Horses?" Illustrated by George Littlechild

 For Primary Students:

  • Create a Venn Diagram about horses and dogs to compare and contrast their characteristics
  • Van Camp’s Board books are excellent resources for a Roots of Empathy program

For all students:

  • An Author or Illustrator Study
  • The book lists many comparisons, some obvious some more subtle.  Read “What’s the Most Beautiful…”book to students once, then make a list of the comparisons they remember from the story.  Reread the story a second time to try to add to the list of comparisons.  Discuss how using comparisons in writing helps the reader to create imagery and to better understand the text and what the author is trying to say.
  • This challenge invites students to investigate the most beautiful (lovely or wonderful) feature about them as individuals. Richard Van Camp lists many lovely traits and features of horses.  After reading the story, draw students’ attention to the word “investigating” used by the author. Ask students, “What does this mean and how did the author investigate?” Ask students to identify the people consulted and what the author asked them as he investigated what was beautiful about horses. List the characters and their responses on a chart.  Make a list of wonderful the qualities that Van Camp discovers. Draw attention to the various features suggested–no answer is wrong, each adds to our information about horses. The story ends with the question, “What’s the Most beautiful thing you know about you?” Ask, “How would you investigate this question?” Brainstorm possible ways of investigating (e.g., ask a friend, ask their parents, get ideas from the picture book about what is beautiful). Using yourself as the example, examine what might be beautiful about people, going beyond physical features to include talents, gifts, background and interests. Model this investigation by asking, “What is beautiful about me?” and list your special features (e.g., I sing and play guitar, I tell funny stories, I let the class have centres). From this discussion, ask students how they might decide on the most beautiful thing about you. (older students can be challenged to focus on the use of poetic language).

Other writers  questions might be:

TOPIC: ___________________________________________________

What’s the most beautiful thing you know about __________________?

What’s the most interesting thing you know about __________________?

What’s the most boring thing you know about _____________________?

What’s the most troubling thing you know about ___________________?

What’s the most mysterious thing you know about _________________?

What’s the most difficult thing you know about ____________________?

What’s the most exciting thing you know about ____________________?

What’s the most dangerous thing you know about __________________?

What’s the most tragic thing you know about ______________________?

What’s the most compelling thing you know about _________________?

What’s the most fascinating thing you know about _________________?

What’s the most devastating thing you know about _________________?

What’s the most precious thing you know about ____________________?

What’s the most important thing for us all to know about ____________?

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