Education Blog

Please, Mr. Panda

Book cover. Panda holding a box of doughnuts.

Steve Antony

Please, Mr. Panda, the delightful story from Steve Antony about a Panda who wants to give away his doughnuts but has trouble finding animals with manners, kicked off the 14th year of WILL-TV’s Book Mentor Project, a partnership between WILL, PNC’s Grow Up Great program and Champaign County Head Start.

As Mr. Panda travels through the story, he asks his animal friends patiently and politely if they would like a doughnut. A penguin, a skunk, and a whale all say “yes,” but they do not remember to say "please" or "thank you."  The last animal friend Mr. Panda approaches says “Please, Mr. Panda,” and Mr. Panda is finally able to give away his doughnuts. The story helps little ones learn that there is a polite way to ask for something and to remember to use good manners. Steve Antony centered this story on a cute panda, his charming animal friends who are hungry for doughnuts, and a lesson on good manners. This book has black-and-white animals, plain background, and brightly colored doughnuts to grab little one’s attention and keep them engaged.

WILL-TV’s Book Mentor Project is designed to connect school, home, and community together. Last week, Book Mentor volunteers read Please, Mr. Panda to pre-kindergarten children at Head Start classrooms in Champaign, Savoy, Rantoul and Urbana. Once the reading was over, the classroom teacher led an activity where the children made hats and participated in a good manners activity. The children then took a copy of the book home to further engage with reading at home with their families.

Each month, families are given a flyer with suggestions to further engage with the book at home with their children. For Please, Mr. Panda, families were encouraged to read the story at home and then find ways to incorporate science and math into the story.  For example, to engage in a science discussion, families could talk about how doughnuts are made (mixing of ingredients, adding heat to change composition), or talk about the animals that are in the story. To incorporate math with the book, children are encouraged to count the animals or the number of doughnuts they see in the book.  These are just suggestions of how families can use the book while at home and we encourage families to come up with their own creative ideas as well.

The Book Mentor Project shares two gifts: the gift of reading and the gift of sharing time. As you can see, books can teach more than just reading skills; there are always opportunities to include the development of other foundational skills into a reading. We are excited to hear great things about this month’s reading from our mentors, teachers and parents!