The One and Only Ivan

Aloha friends!  Happy Springtime!  I have just finished my Spring Break and am headed into the 4th and final quarter of school.  So much to do in so little time!! It should be fun though.

In my last post I shared a list of Favorite Second Grade Read Alouds.  One of the books on that list was The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.

I decided to read it to my class and they really loved it.  I honestly didn't know anything about the book, but decided to give it a read.  I happened to mention to my boyfriend that the kids were just loving it and what it was about.  He told me that Ivan was a real gorilla and he had seen him many times growing up at the local mall near him in Washington.  I had no idea that it was based on a true story! 

We finished the book on Friday and then I discussed with the kids that it was based on real events. When I told them my boyfriend had really seen him they thought that was the amazing! I found a few videos and shared them both with my students.  The first is a bit sad and tells how poor Ivan was all alone in his cage for over 20 years!

The kids and I discussed how his real life was similar to the book and how it was different.  I then showed them the following video that tells about the book and Ivan's real life and his move to Zoo Atlanta.  

My class loved hearing about Ivan's adventures in the zoo and what a sweet creature he really was.  I checked in our library and it didn't have the picture book edition so I just ordered it from Amazon.

I can't wait to add it to our class library.  They will be thrilled about it.  We have just finished up our unit on Opinion Writing as well and I wanted to tie this in.  I came up with this template and thought they would enjoy writing about Ivan or Ruby.

Just click on the picture to download it in Google Docs.  I can't wait to see what they come up with in their writing, which by the way has really improved over the past quarter.

I'm sure some of you already know this story and the background details, but it was really interesting for my class and I to discover so much about Ivan and his story.

If you haven't already checked out my last post on favorite Read Alouds, click on the picture below to take you there.


  1. We lived in Issaquah and saw Ivan many times. My cousin told me about this book last year.I read it to my second grade class last year, then we shared some very interesting conversations. Thank you for telling others about Ivan

  2. Thanks for this post. I grew up in Tacoma, WA just about a mile from the B&I Shopping Center. Watching Ivan was a highlight of our shopping experience. It wasn't until I grew older that I realized how inhumane it was for poor Ivan. Now I'll have to get this book!


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