Tuesday, August 4, 2015

6 Must-Read Back to School Read-Alouds to Build Community

We chose our first set of books for our read-aloud mini-lessons in September. We strategically chose books with back-to-school themes so we could integrate classroom community building activities with our read-alouds. We selected stories that were complex enough, they would lend themselves to span across 3-4 days. We plan to dive deep and cover many Common Core Literature Standards while also giving ourselves time to respond to the text with writing and art. 

We wrote rigorous text dependent questions where students use evidence from the text to deepen their understanding of the stories. Questions cover 7-8 Common Core Literature standards each book.  We created graphic organizers and writing in response to text activities to incorporate writing standards. We also incorporated an art piece to compliment each read-aloud and designed bulletin board headings to display the work. 

Each lesson plan will guide us through 3 days of close reading. Each day we will read the book for a different purpose and students will complete a different activity. 

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell, Illustrated by David Catrow

Molly Lou Melon is a heartwarming story about a confident little girl who wins over Ronald Durkin, the school bully. The gorgeous illustrations and positive message of being true to yourself make this a must-read for back to school. This book is perfect for teaching kids about character traits. We plan to compare and contrast Molly Lou and Ronald Durkin by analyzing how their characters changed throughout the story. We will then have kids draw and write a character map about themselves.   

I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont, Illustrated by David Catrow 

This simple humorous book is about a girl who likes herself no matter what.  Its silly rhyming words and illustrations deliver a powerful message of self assurance.  We paired this book with Molly Lou Melon to discuss the topic of self esteem and plan to have kids draw a self portrait and write an "I Like Me" poem.  

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires 

We can't say enough about this new picture book by Ashley Spires. This inspiring story presents the idea of perseverance to young kids. The little girl and her dog plan to build the most magnificent thing.  Along the way, things don't turn out the way they plan. They fail and try again many times. Eventually, the girl becomes frustrated and quits when she slams her finger. Her dog convinces her to take a walk to rejuvenate. When they return, her renewed enthusiasm helps them achieve their goal and they finally build the most magnificent thing. This story is perfect for teaching a character's response to events and challenges.  It is a great back to school read-aloud for teaching children to overcome difficult things.  

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig, Illustrated by Patrice Barton


This heartfelt story brought us to tears as we empathized with Brian, the boy who feels invisible. He is sad and lonely at school until the new kid Justin asks him to join him and another boy for a class project. At the beginning of the story, Brian is drawn in black and white with the world around him in color, which symbolizes his isolation. As he feels more accepted and included, he becomes more colorful. Brian's journey teaches kids empathy and opens discussion about ways to include others. We plan to have kids illustrate comic strips depicting situations where they have opportunities to include others.  

Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry, Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

We fell in love with this book the second we came across it at our Public Library. All three of us had a copy shipped to our homes before returning it. This book can't help but make you smile. Stick and Stone become life-long friends when Stick stands up for Stone as the bully Pinecone taunts him. At first glance, we weren't sure if this text was complex enough for a close read extended over several days. After reading it, we realized the rhyming text and illustrations work harmoniously together to tell the story. We could cover many Common Core standards through deeper text dependent questions about text and illustrations working together. There are many parts worth revisiting to discuss why the author made certain decisions with text structure. There are many opportunities make inferences about characters and events using the illustrations. This book is a great springboard to talk to students about friendship. We plan to have kids complete a story map and write ways to "stick" with their friends.  

Big Bad Wolves at School by Stephen Krensky, Illustrated by Brad Sneed 

This is a lighthearted story about Rufus, a wolf that doesn't like Big Bad Wolf School. He would rather run through the woods and howl at the moon. We plan to use this book as a springboard to discuss classroom rules. As a class, we will act out examples and non examples of following the rules. Kids will write and draw ways they can follow our agreed upon class rules.  

We have written detailed lesson plans for each of these books that can be found in our Teachers-Pay-Teachers store. You can purchase each read aloud separately or in the September Bundle. 

-The Core Coaches 

1 comment:

  1. FOR NO REASON by Kathleen Gauer, illustrated by Sari Richter, is another animated, heart-warming story to delight young readers. In this insightful tale, Jamie Higgins comes up with a clever way to deal with a classroom bully, Brad Lugsley, without having to resort to meanness. Suitable for grades SK to 1. Lots of creative activities to engage young readers at the back of the book. For more information about this book, check out www.skippingstonepress.net.