A panda walks into the library, eats a peanut butter sandwich, shoots off a couple of arrows and leaves.
The librarian shouts after him, “Why did you do that?”
“Because that’s what the book says I do,” the panda replies.
The librarian opens the book and finds a misplaced comma. “PANDA: Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.”
When we read that at the beginning of Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss, my kids and I laughed and laughed.
You’ve probably heard of her “grown-up” book by the same name. This picture book, found in the children’s section, is a great introduction to children on the proper use of commas.
Each two-page spread contains the same sentence, but with different comma placement. Each sentence is illustrated with the meaning of the sentence, based upon where the comma is in the sentence.
If you really want to get into the nitty-gritty, Truss explains each sentence at the back of the book – how a comma creates a series of verbs in one sentence, while leaving it out makes the last two words nouns instead of verbs. The explanations are rather easy to understand, and worth going over with the pages you are reading.
In a classroom, or at home, I’d recommend going over only a few pages at a time to make it more memorable.
Recommended for ages 6 and up. (Because sometimes adults need simple reminders too!)