Leo The Lightning Bug Essay

Submitted By studentteachermom
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Leo the Lightning Bug, written by Eric Drachman and illustrated by James Muscarello, is a story about the littlest lightning bug who could not make himself light up. Feeling sad and frustrated, he complained to his mother. Leo’s mother comforts him by telling him that “with a little time and practice” (Drachman, 2001, p. 2), he will let out a beautiful light. Following his mother’s advice, he went out the next night to practice. Little did he know, the other young lightning bugs saw him flip and turn as he forces himself to light up. When he heard them laughing and making fun of him he ran off to a cave feeling embarrassed and sorry for himself. There he cried and screamed, angry that he couldn’t not make himself light up like the other bugs. When he finally stopped, he remembered his mother’s advice, “with a little time and practice…” (Drachman, 2001, p. 2). With a new sense of hope and inspiration, Leo flew out the cave and started practicing despite the storm that started. In the middle of practicing, a thunder rolled and a lightning struck. Leo thought he had caused this to happen. This gave him more confidence to try until finally made his own light. Feeling confident and proud of his accomplishment, Leo went home. When he met the other lightning bugs still laughing and teasing him, Leo did not feel angry but instead, was able to laugh with them. He eventually made friends that night, went to bed happy and lit up.
Exhibiting moral action, Leo displayed moral action and determination while waiting for his light to appear. Moral action is evident “if people have moral qualities of intellect and emotion, they are likely to do what they know and feel to be right” (Lickona, 1991, p. 61). Leo, knowing his own weakness of being small and not being able to produce light (moral knowing) made him feel sorry for himself (moral feeling). In addition, he had to deal with the embarrassment of being teased by the other lightning bugs. Because of the inspiration that his mother gave him, he was able to overcome his self-doubt into effective moral action. He willed himself to try and not give up. Leo the Lightning Bug is a wonderful book that can be used to teach perseverance and believing in one’s self. After reading the book or listening to the Audio CD, the class can discuss and share personal stories of when a child repeatedly attempted something and became successful. To extend the discussion, the teacher can prepare 2-3 sequence pictures depicting someone attempting executing a task and being successful at it (riding a bike or building a puzzle). This can open a discussion on the steps the person used to succeed. The class can also talk about how they think the person felt after persevering. As school is about to end, this book is very timely to incorporate into the curriculum as a springboard to show the children their very own accomplishments throughout the year. After reading and talking about the story, the teacher can show children’s hand writing samples from the beginning of the school until the present. The children will see how they have progressed from scribbling in the beginning of the year, to being able to write their full name. This is a great opportunity for teachers to teach children how time and practice can produce good results. The activity provides the children connection from their personal experience to Leo’s story. They will develop a sense of pride and prove to themselves that if they do their best and keep on trying, they can accomplish anything.
Drachman, E. & Muscarello, J. (2001). Leo the lightning bug. Los Angeles: Kidwick Books.
Lickona, T. (1991). Educating for Character: How Our Schools Can Teach Respect and Responsibility. New York, NY: Bantam Books.

The Grouch Ladybug by Eric Carle is a classroom favorite. Beyond the moral lessons the story