“When Love You Forever was published in 1986, parents across the country sang its sweet refrain to their children at bedtime…But before Love You Forever was a nursery staple, it was a simple, four-line poem that children’s book author Robert Munsch would sing silently to himself after his wife gave birth to a stillborn baby. It was the second stillbirth the couple had to mourn.” C. Herreria, Huffington Post
ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key
“Munsch says the song was too painful to sing out loud. For a long time, he couldn’t even share it with his wife.
[The song] was my way of crying, Munsch told The Huffington Post.
I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.
After the second stillbirth, doctors told the couple that they would never be able to conceive — news that devastated Munsch, who had worked in orphanages, received a master’s degree in Child Studies, and dedicated his life to writing children’s books…The couple went on to adopt three children, but Munsch used his song as a way to grieve their two previous losses. He would sing it to himself like a silent lullaby, never writing it down or saying it out loud.
Unlike his past work, which could take years of performing to flesh out, this one came out whole. Munsch told his audience about a mother who would sing her son the same lullaby at night throughout every phase of his life — even sneaking into his room to sing it when he’s fully grown.
When Munsch brought the story to his publisher to be produced as a book, they turned it down, saying it was too dark for the children’s genre. His distributer decided to publish the book instead…Munsch believes the story resonates with readers because it affects both parents and children. For someone who picks up the book, it’s their story, not mine, Munsch said.”
NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.
Level: Intermediate – Advanced
Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.
Time: Approximately 2 hours.
Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.
Objective: Students will read and discuss the article with a focus on improving reading comprehension and learning new vocabulary. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.
I. Pre-Reading Activities
Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos
Directions: Have students examine the titles of the post and of the actual article. After they examine the photos, ask students to create a list of words and ideas that they think might be related to this article.
II. While Reading Activities
Directions: Students are to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. They may use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.
- After the second stillbirth, the couple cried.
- They felt that they would never be able to conceive.
- The news devastated Munsch.
- It felt like someone gave him a punch in the solar plexus.
- He made up a story to accompany the song on the spot.
- It was the first time anyone heard the now iconic song.
- The story was about a mother who would sing her son the same lullaby at night.
- Some publishers thought the story was too dark for the children’s genre.
- Some readers were moved by the mother’s unconditional love.
- Munsch retired from storytelling after he suffered a stroke in 2008.
Directions: The following sentences are from the article. Choose the correct word for each blank space from the word list or make up your own words.
He ___from ___after he suffered a stroke in 2008 and says he now___ himself ___to the mother in Love You Forever when she’s old and ___at the end of the st story ory.
He’s still ___of the book, not only because it’s his most___, but because he___ it offers ___for others just as it did for him. For ___who picks up the book, it’s their___, not mine.
Word List: relating, someone, retired, storytelling, finds, successful, solace, proud, sick, hopes.
Grammar: Using Adjectives to describe pictures
Directions: Have students choose a picture from the article and write a descriptive paragraph using adjectives.
III. Post Reading Activities
Directions: Have students use the WH-question format to discuss or to write the main points from the article.
Who or What is the article about?
Where does the action/event take place?
When does the action/event take place?
Why did the action/event occur?
How did the action/event occur?
Directions: Place students in groups and have each group compose a letter or note to Robert Munsch asking him something they would like to know about the topic.
Directions: Allow students 5 minutes to write down three new ideas they’ve learned about the topic from the reading, two things they did not understand in the reading, and one thing they would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.