Title: Odd Socks
Text: Michelle Robinson
Illustrations: Rebecca Ashdown
Publisher: Andersen Press
Odd Socks is a funny book with bright pictures, a bumpy, tactile front cover that the Early Years Foundation Stage children appreciated, and a text that bounces along with gentle rhymes and jolly alliteration. It tells the tale of a pair of stripy socks who come to live in a drawer. Suki and Sosh are the happy pair of socks who work well together, keeping feet warm in jellies and wellies, and they are just perfect for wearing when whizzing down slides. All is well until – uh oh – a hole appears in Suki’s big toe.
The next morning, Suki cannot be found. It could all end badly for this inseparable pair, until glitter, glue and googly eyes are deployed to save the day.
By happy coincidence, as everyone was putting on their boots to go into the Wild Wood last Friday, the children noticed that their teacher Mrs Williman’s socks were not matching. Today’s reading of Odd Socks led to further discussions about socks that matched and socks that didn’t, as well as about patterns, colours and stripes.
The children clearly enjoyed Odd Socks and giggled all the way through the reading of it. On the face of it, Odd Socks is simply an amusing and engaging story. However, the children's questions and ideas showed that, in addition to generating discussions about similarities and differences, this book provided a perfect opportunity to explore important ideas such as love and loss, kindness and meanness, happiness and sadness.
Sidhart said that that he liked the story in the first part but did not like it in the second: “It’s sad when our friends get lost. If our friends get lost we would be worried and we would be sad. Sosh might worry that Suki would be eaten by a dog.”
“I lost my black gloves and I was very sad, so I went to look in Lost Property but I didn’t see them and they weren’t there. I am supposed to have two pairs of back gloves in my house but I can’t find them anywhere,” Yusuf said.
The book also lends itself well to discussions about recycling. “I’ve got socks in my house. Some socks have holes in them. When they have holes in them I throw them in the bin," Jovanna said.
“My little sister always has holes in her socks, but we don’t throw them away. They have hearts and flowers on,” Olivia said.
In the book, inanimate objects such as buckets, balls and toys have faces, as do underwear, pants, vests and socks. This had universal appeal for the children, who loved to point out the expressions. “The pants are vests and socks look happy. They are cosy and snuggling together,” Emma said.
Samika said she liked the ending best, “because the socks came back.” Tuppence liked the ending too: “I love my mum and dad and I loved it when they got back together again.”
We could see that this story would link well to activities we have offered in the past. During warm weather, Mrs Williman sets up a bubbly-water table full of socks for the children to put into pairs and to put up on the washing line – great for sorting, matching, pegging and counting in twos.
The book was a good stimulus for the children to discuss feelings and develop empathy and compassion.
We also could see how there were lots of opportunities to explore themes that would be covered in the personal-safety aspects of the PSHE curriculum, including what to do if you get lost.
A further opportunity would be to ask the children to bring in odd socks from home to make into sock puppets, and perhaps use to re-tell the story.
A lovely, jolly book, perfect for EYFS teachers and children alike. And what we have since discovered is that Mrs Williman always wears odd socks every day as “a secret act of rebellion”. Today, they were spotty and stripy.
Leila Williman is the EYFS Leader. Rachel Snape is the headteacher at The Spinney Primary School, and she tweets @RaeSnape
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