I always enjoy introducing a topic using a book. If it's the right book it can hook the kids immediately & honestly I really enjoy reading a great book out loud. It always makes me feel really connected to the class and I always walk away from it feeling joyful. I think that has a lot to do with how the kids respond too. If I like the book, it shows and they tend to enjoy it more when it seems I'm enjoying it. Some of my favorite memories are of us reading a book together as s class.
Here are just a few from this past year that caused fantastic class conversations and student "Ah-ha" moments...
I read this one near the beginning of the year and it helped us review ending punctuation. This book is SO MUCH fun to read. The kids & I just laugh when the question mark shows up. Ha! I actually read this one a few times this year because we loved it so much & the extra exposure helped students that struggle pick up on the humor if they didn't understand it the first time.
It's a Duck! No, It's a Rabbit! Haha! The kids were all talking during this read aloud that helped us to understand Point of View. I also was able to link this one to opinion writing & persuasive statements. After we read a few pages I stopped and had them jot down a couple reasons that supported their opinion of duck or rabbit. They shared those ideas with a neighbor to help them see their point of view and maybe even persuade their neighbor to change their mind. There were so many great conversations happening during this one. We read this one more than once as well to remind the kids of the skills learned.
Who Would Win? Lobster vs. Crab
This series is AMAZING! If you don't have these in your classroom library they are a must for your Scholastic wish list this year. The kids absolutely devoured these once I read one out loud. I had to require that they only keep 1 in their book box so others in the class could read them! This is the kind of problem I want to have in my classrooms always!
I used these books to teach opinion writing and persuasive statements. The kids would have a pencil and paper as I read the fact pages about each animal. When I do this I only read the fact pages that really help support their opinions so be sure you read through the book first and plan which pages you'll read. They would jot down notes about each creature and naturally conversations began to occur. "The lobster will win because..." and "That trait will help the crab in a fight". Now at the end of these books there is a "fight scene" between the two creatures and one ends up the "winner". I stop just before the fight scene and we complete the following activity...
We would review how to write a strong opinion paragraph. Then using the facts they jotted down they wrote who they thought would win and why. After everyone had created their paragraph I would read the end. When I read the endings they were on the edge of their seats people! You could hear a pin drop in my class & then when it's finally over TONS of conversation about their opinions would occur. Now I know this sounds like chaos, but if you listen closely you hear them sharing text evidence about why the ending has to be wrong or right. I had one student this past year who read the bull shark version with a partner and he was so adamant that the ending was wrong that he was referencing other books. It was great and also convincing. After hearing his evidence I even thought there might be a misprint in the book. I even encouraged him to write a letter to the author. :) He was engaged, reading, researching, and thinking! It doesn't get much better than that does it!?
Amelia Bedelia 4 Mayor
Oh Amelia! This lady is always doing the craziest stuff! At first I thought these would be too childish, but really when you read Amelia Bedelia it takes a lot of word knowledge to fully understand the humor in her books. So I gave it a try this year to teach homonyms and figurative language. When I read these out loud it was a slow read in a way. Meaning, I had to pause a lot because there was so much humor they were missing. This book ended up taking us 3 read aloud sessions because we took the time to understand what was really happening in small sessions. I also had the class say whether it was figurative language or a confused homonym when we came across those classic "Amelia Moments". After reading this out loud the kids started picking these up on their own and pointing out confused homonyms to me or a neighbor. Success!
I LOVE this book. It might be my all time favorite picture book after this year. It may have been the first time I read it and the kids really understood it. I used this book to teach figurative language this past year. I wrote some of the figurative phrases on a chart paper. As we read we paused and the students made sense of them together. Then we wrote what the phrase meant in kid friendly language next to the figurative phrase. I felt so proud of them after this lesson. Figurative language is so hard to understand and they really worked together & thought hard about each page. They walked away from the carpet feeling like they could do anything!
Books can connect our kids to so many concepts & it's important for us to remember how much our older elementary students enjoy hearing a story.
What are your go-to books to read out loud & teach skills?