The first story is Fish is Fish, by Leo Lionni, about two friends, a minnow and tadpole, who believe they are the same until they grow up and minnow becomes a large fish and tadpole becomes a big frog. After frog crawls on land and comes back to tell fish the amazing sights he has seen, fish decides to jump out and see the land for himself. He quickly discovers that there is a reason "frog is frog" and "fish is fish."
Hint #1: Say to students, "Fish is fish" and then name each child in the room using this strategy. For instance, "Olivia is Olivia. Michael is Michael."
The second story, Chisato Tashiro's Chameleon's Colors, is about a chameleon who grows weary of blending in because nobody can ever see him. All the other animals long to be able to change like he does, so he helps them to learn this ability. The animals, however, learn that changing their appearance causes all kinds of new problems.
Hint #2: Ask the students, "What do you think is the message of these two books?"
In each of my 2nd-grade classrooms, there always are four or five students who point out the message of "being yourself." Others say the theme is being good friends, or they describe the use of similar colors in the illustrations of each book.
I always am moved by children's responses to the stories and to the power of being true to yourself.
Haywood County Schools