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Archive of Reading

Page history last edited by Melissa Gibson 11 years ago


Integrating Literature Ideas & Best Practices - Reading / Language Arts


Book Title


Activity / Idea / Weblink



Idea by

Skippyjon Jones

Judy Schachner

This book is an excellent book to teach children about role play and how to act as if they are different characters than what they really are. Students can transform themselves to different characters just like the cat when he wanted to be a dog and run away. The must important thing that each reader will get out of this story is that it is always great to go back to your family. It is also a great book for young people to use their own mind to make up stories and to be able to tell a story through their own eyes. An activity that we can do with students after reading this book is have students use their own cloths from home to dress up as different characters from their own imagination and invite parents in to see what they have came up with.


James Bridges
If You Give a Pig a Party Laura Numeroff This book is a wonderful resource for teaching cause and effect.  I would begin the lesson by reading the story aloud to the class. After reading the story, I would pose the questions "what was happening at the very beginning of the story? Did that end up happening? Did it happen right away? Why did all of those other things happen throughout the story?" This would get students thinking about how one thing caused the other to happen. Then, I would introduce students to the term cause and effect. We would then watch the BrainPop video "Cause and Effect" http://www.brainpopjr.com/readingandwriting/comprehension/causeandeffect/preview.weml. After viewing this video, I would put a large table on the SMART board. The left hand column would say CAUSE and the right side column would say EFFECT. We would then go back through the book identifying each cause and then the effect that it had. After some more practice with identifying cause and effect I would give students an opportunity to integrate these skills with a creative writing assignment. The students will get to create their own "If you give" story using cause and effect.
3rd/4th Haley Bathiany
Cinderella and Smoky Mountain Rose, An Appalachian Cinderella

Cinderella-Ruth Anderson

Smoky Mountain Rose-Alan Schroeder

Have students compare and contrast the same story by different authors by using a Venn Diagram (http://www.eduplace.com/graphicorganizer/pdf/venn.pdf). You will want to begin by reading both versions of the Cinderella story (there are many to choose from and any version will work...I chose Smoky Mountain Rose because I'm from the mountains and I enjoy the dialect). Most students are familiar with the original Cinderella story, and will be able to make connections (familiarity with the story will get them interested in the activity). You may ask them if they have ever felt like Cinderella before (maybe they've been bullied before). As you read (or have children read) discuss the setting, characters, and plot, specifically focusing on how characters respond to situations in the stories. Discussing character development will be essential in helping students compare and contrast both versions. After students have read, discussed with each other, have them complete a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the versions. You will want to remind them to focus specifically on setting, plot, and character development. You may raise questions/prompts such as:

  • How are the settings in both stories alike/different?
  • How are the main characters alike/different?
  • Describe a time in your life when you felt like Cinderella/Rose.
3 Daneika (Nikki) Hunt

Book- is it red? is it yellow? is it blue?

Tana Hoban
Create an "I Spy " book by add to the phrase "I spy something _________. It is _____________________." The level of writing will depend on the grade level. Have the children illustrate their sentences. As in the book, there can be more than one color in the sentence and illustration. Staple their pages together and have them read their books to others and have others read their books.
Diane Haase
Is Your Mama a Llama?
Deborah Guarino
Use this book when teaching and discussing making inferences while reading. Because the author doesn't always supply all the information in a story, sometimes as readers we have to make inferences. When students inference they use knowledge they already have about a topic, plus clues in the story. In this story, different animals are giving clues about animals that might be the Llamas mama. The teacher could read the clues without showing the picture to the students. Then students could use a graphic organizer (http://teacher.scholastic.com/reading/bestpractices/vocabulary/pdf/sr_allgo.pdfdrawing conclusions graphic organizer) to record the clues in the story plus what they know and then make an inference. Then the teacher could show the picture in the book to see if the students made the correct inference. I always used my elmo to show the pictures and the kids would get so excited if they made a correct inference. I did this activity with 1st graders a few years ago and they did a great job.
Lindsey Dickson
Strega Nona Tomie dePaola

Students will use prediction with the book, Strega Nona. Prior to the activity, the teacher will share vocabulary words from Strega Nona, and add them to the "magic pot". Students will predict what they think the story will be about, based on those vocabulary words. The teacher will then read to part in the story where the pasta is getting out of hand, or another point of choice, and students will make another prediction. Students will discuss the accuracy of predictions, after the story is completed. Materials needed are


  • Strega Nonaby Tomie de Paola

  • Large cooking pot

  • Strega Nona vocabulary

  • Board to post Strega Nona vocabulary words and to write predictions on

  • Sticky notes

  • Prediction Handout (label the three columns with "before reading", "during reading", and "after reading")

  • predict definition

K-2 Sarah Howard-Montgomery
Wednesday Surprise, The Eve Bunting Students will discuss in a Literature Circle, the surprise felt when they learned that the "surprise" in the story was that Grandma had learned to read. Students will work in small groups to rewrite the story from the perspective of grandma, keeping in mind that they still need to keep the "surprise" hidden until the very end. Stories will be shared in the "Reader's Share Chair." 1-3 Sarah Howard-Montgomery
The Talking Eggs Robert D. San Souci

I cut out a large brown paper turkey (without the tail) and some 18" x 6" strips of colored paper. I wrote my main idea on the 'body' of the turkey and wrote one detail on each strip, tapered to look like feathers. The details were 'de-tail'! Then I used our Ellison machine to cut small turkey bodies for my students to use, along with 6" x 1" strips for their feathers. We got some great bodies and details from that lesson!" GIBSON also thinks this would work well for non-fiction trade books or textbooks. Talking Eggs is multicultural folktale.




Strega Nona
Tomie dePaola
Magical Objects. What fun it would be if everyone had a magical object like Strega Nona! Have your students use their imagination to draw a magical object of their own. Have each student write beside their drawing a song, a poem, or a set of directions that makes the magical object work. Have the each student choose from on to the following story ideas and write a story: an adventure about what happens when someone misuses the magical object, a short story about how the magical object became magical, or a story about how the magical object helped someone. Bind the stories together to make class books for everyone to enjoy. 3-5
Diane Haase
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? Bill Martin Jr. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? is an excellent book for young readers to role-play and act out the characters of the story. Students can make hand puppets or masks for each animal/person in the story. Students can then choral read the story while stepping forward each time their animal is "seen"in the book. Each children can have a part and multiple representations of any animal can be used. It would be a wonderful opportunity to invite family and friends into the classroom for reader's theater. I have personally completed this activity with young students in my classroom and they love the opportunity to interact with the characters and text in the story. K-2 Shannon Compton
Wagon Wheels Barbara Brenner

Put students into groups and give group different vocabulary words from the book (pioneer, prairie, dugout, carpenter, etc). Give each group a large piece of paper and instruct them to do the following:

1. Use the context clues from the reading and write down, in your own words, the definition of the word. 2. Then look up the word in the dictionary. Write down the dictionary definition and the correct part of speech. 3. Create a new sentence using the word. 4. Draw a picture to illustrate the sentence.

2-4 grade Jennifer Phillips
The Summer of the Swans Betsy Byars The students will use The Power of Speech worksheet for each chapter. With this, the students are to find 3 important things that characters have said in the chapter and write them in the speech bubble, then answer the questions about it. Who said it? Why do you think the author had this character say this? This is an excellent tool to focus on the reading, to stop and review after each chapter and to question the author’s purpose in the story. This helps with comprehension and even recognizing foreshadowing. http://www.rachel-lynette.com Primary Chassadi Strong
Charlotte's Web E.B.White After or during reading, students can use a worksheet called Character report card to grade characters in the book on certain traits such as kindness, effort, attitude, leadership, attitude, honesty, etc. They will use A-F grading system. This helps students to look more in depth at the characters and understand them more and their roles in the story. http://www.rachel-lynette.com 5th, 6th Chassadi Strong
Pink and Say Patricia Polacco After reading Pink and Say, read letters (aloud to the class, in groups, or passed out individually) from http://www.civilwarletters.com/. After a class discussion of the letters and wording and grammer from the Civil War era, have students write their own letter. The letter can be from Say to his family back home and can start from any point in the book. The students should use examples and characters from the story in their writing. (The website also has links to other civil War lesson plans for future use.) 4th-7th  
Harvey Potter's Balloon Farm
Jerdine Nolen
After reading the book, brainstorm ideas of what kinds of crops you could grow on your farm. Kindergarten and First Grade students can write or dictate their story to an adult. Then they can illustrate it. Grades 2-3 can use the computer to write their story. They can use a drawing program or illustrate their story by hand. Bind the stories together into a class book.
Diane Haase
Santa's Time Off
Bill Maynard
After reading the book, brainstorm with your class other places Santa might have gone on vacation. Make a list. Then discuss rhyming words and word families. Make lists of rhyming words. Look at the rhyming patters in the story. Have the students choose a place for Santa to take a vacation and write their own poem using the rhyming words you have listed. Illustrate their poem. Create a class book for all to enjoy.
2-3 grade

Diane Haase


Sing a Song of Popcorn Beatrice Schenk de Regniers I would use the poem, "Five Little Squirrels," with the author being unknown to introduce the class to rhyming words. We would read the poem as a class and discuss the words whose endings sound alike. Students would then go to the listening center and listen to the poem on tape, listening for the rhyming words. Have each student give you an example of two words that rhyme to assess if they understand the concept and record. Pre-K-K Marisa Gebert
I Went Walking Julie Vivas I have completed this activity in my classroom. After reading the story, one student is selected as the little boy that goes walking. He or she will create a hand puppet representing their character. Other students are assigned the characters the little boy sees as he goes walking. Students then can act out the story during reader's theatre or for their parents. It is a cute activity that parents and children both enjoy. K-1

Shannon Compton

NightMares; Poems to trouble your sleep Jack Prelutsky You could assign each student a different poem. You would require the student to read the poem, and give a summary of the poem. The student would also be required to tell the setting, the characters and the poetic form that the author is using. Once student has completed all these activities have student identify all personification, simile and metaphors that the author used throughout the story. 4-6 grade Jeremy Sanders
Click, Clack, Moo Cows that Type Doreen Cronin After reading this book, students can learn about word families and rhymes with the typed letters that the farm animals write. The teacher could introduce one with "dear", at the beginning of the book, where the word family and rhyme is -ear and we will complete this word family together so it is modeled for the students. We will look in the first letter to find more word families and rhymes that the students will help find and list these on a big piece of chart paper. Then the students will think of their own word and come up with a word that rhymes with it. Each letter from the book can be done in the same way and students will begin to get the hang of it and understand rhymes and word families. K-2

Molly Fackler




Duck on a Bike David Shannon Discuss using strong verbs and adjectives with students in their writings. Read the book as an example of using stronger verbs and adjectives. The teacher can use a Smart Board to project pages of the book onto the screen. Students can take turns identifying the strong verbs and adjectives on the pages. Students can then revise their papers, adding stronger verbs and adjectives. Any grade Elizabeth Coomer
Snowflake Bentley Jacqueline Briggs Martin

This story will be used for teaching the ideas writing trait from the 6+1 traits of writing. After teaching the writing traits song to students, discuss with them the first trait of writing, bright ideas. Read the story to them. After the story discuss the order of events that occurred in the story and what could have been some of the bright ideas from the author. Use this website along with the story to guide instruction: http://www.edina.k12.mn.us/concord/teacherlinks/sixtraits/sixtraits.html. This website helps to address each trait along with fun activities to use in the classroom. Once you have discussed the bright ideas in the story, ask students to get out their writing journals. Click on the activity for bright ideas from the website and complete the vacation story prompt. Discuss students' bright ideas after student write for 15 minutes.

4th-6th grades Dana Brinkley
The Little Prince (illustrated) Antoine de -Saint Exupery

At the end of a unit where the novella had been read and discussed by the whole class a five lesson unit would be used by the students to write their own fable. One lesson would be used to familiarize students with the Fun with Fables website:

http://its.guilford.k12.nc.us/webquests/fables/fables.htm. The next lesson would be used to discuss the book in light of the website. The third lesson would be used for students to brain storm possible conflicts between different perspectives on an issue in their own lives. For instance In a multicultural classroom in China, it could be the difference between Chinese and Western young adult's perspective on cheating in school. Or in the same setting, a fable about boy and girl relationships. (I chose this setting because I work overseas in these kinds of multicultural classrooms where Asian and Western adolescents have very different perspectives on these types of issues.) In the fourth lesson the rubric for judging the work would be handed out and discussed. It would include things like the quality of narrative, point of view, central conflict, plot, setting, etc. as well as use of language and grammar register. In the fifth lesson the students would write and hand in their fable. In the subsequent unit, the students would use the rubric to evaluate each other's work

10th Graders Wendel Maunula
Runny Babbit Shel Silverstein Runny Babbit is a book of poems. Now these poems are not just your run of the mill poems, they are special. They are special because Silverstein switches many of the syllables and letters around so that a bunny rabbit becomes a runny babbit for example. After reading this magical book, educators could encourage their students to create a poem written in the style of those found in Runny Babbit. Once they wrote their pilly soems, students can then illustrate them in a similar manner as Silverstein. Lastly, teachers could have students read and/or present their poems to their peers. Runny Babbit can also be used when teaching students blending and segmenting sounds. Pre-K through 5th Lesley Whitaker
True Story of The Three Little Pigs, The Jon Scieszka This would be a great book to teach point of view to students. Students can read both The Three Little Pigs and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs to compare and contrast how the point of view is different. Students can also read other books and rewrite the story from another character's point of view 3-5
Bethany Endicott
Polar Express, The Chris Van Allsburg

This book is a great resource to teach writing because the author’s choice of words encourages students to use their senses and really picture the story in their heads which is what “good” writers do. The author does a brilliant job of describing the setting, characters, and plot with his choice of descriptive words. I use this book when talking about word choice because it helps to show students what I am talking about when I tell them to paint a picture with their words. This book is a wonderful aid to teach students to use descriptions in their own writing.

3-5 Jessica Isenhour
Five Chinese Brothers, The Claire Huchet Bishop Once this story is read to the students have them write using complete sentences what they would choose as a special talent and how they would use it. 1-2

Kristen Gregory


Town Mouse, Country Mouse Jan Brett This story is great for having students use graphic organizers to compare and contrast characters in a story or you may compare and contrast the setting in which the two characters live through the use of a Venn diagram. http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/lesson-plan/collateral_resources/pdf/l/lessonplans_graphicorg_pdfs_venndiagram.pdf Have students pay close attention to details and illustrations on each page. K-2

Kristen Gregory


Grandfather's Journey Allen Say This story is an account of a grandfather leaving Japan when he was young. It gives details about other important events in his life which would make it an excellent choice to teach sequencing. Students can use a graphic organizer to sequence the important events in the story. As a supplement, students could make a timeline of their own life using a PowerPoint presentation or decorating a poster with pictures of themselves. 3-6 Rebekah Walden-Coffey
Jolly Postman or Other People's Letters, The Janet & Allan Ahlberg This story is a very interactive Traditional book. It follows the post man who delivers the mail to various fairy tale characters. As the book is read the teacher needs to point out the various types of letters, advertisements, post cards, and other forms of informational writing. Once the students have listened to the story and have examined the various forms of writing, they will then create their own. The teacher will demonstrate the RAFT strategy and have students will decide who they are, pick a fairy tale character to write to, what type of writing they will use and a purpose for writing. This will expose students to other forms of writing and let them be creative!! 4-6 Erin Hale
Story of Johnny Appleseed, The Aliki Brandenberg Have students compose a similar story of their own. Instruct them to create a story with a hero who is responsible for some aspect of our daily lives like Johnny was in the Brandenberg book. For example, Gary the Grass Sower or Peter Pecanseed. Allow the opportunity to write creatively and emphasize their character may have superhuman abilities as Johnny did. In teaching plot, encourage students to have some bad happen to their character and explain how they need to create a way for their character to overcome their misfortune. 3-4 Andrew Felker
Grandfather Tales Richard Chase This book is a great collection of English folk tales that could be used to introduce children to traditional literature. After reading some or all of the selections in the book, take students on an in-depth journey to discover more about folk tales and how they originated. Also, explain to students that folk tales are stories that are re-told by word of mouth, have been passed down over many years, and are based on fictional events but usually have some type of moral/lesson. Once students have a good grasp on the idea of folk tales, allow them to brainstorm either some stories they've been told by family members over the years or to think of a time they or someone they knew learned a lesson somehow. After they share their ideas with the class, they will select one of the options they came up with and elaborate on that to create their very own folk tale. Students will write down their thoughts and then work in small groups and share their tales by word of mouth, not reading. Later, the students will switch groups or partner up and re-tell a new tale that they heard from another classmate. They will be applying what they learned about folk tales to their own stories. 4-5 Michelle Jenkins
American Tall Tales Mary Pope Osborne

I would begin the lesson by asking what the characteristics of Tall Tales are and having students look up the definition. Once students have become familiar with tall tales, we would begin by reading one tall tale as a class together. We would begin with Paul Bunyan. Once I have read the story to the student, they would go back to their seats and work with a partner to think about tall tale characteristics they see throughout the story. They will then share these characteristics with the class. I could also use this book to work on sequencing and compare and contrast. I would have the students work on sequencing the events of Paul Bunyan and what happened throughout the story.

Once students have become familiar with one tall tale from the story, let them choose a second story to read together as a class. Once they have found the tall tale characteristics from this story, it would be easy to incorporate a lesson with comparing and contrasting the two different tall tales they have just read. I would have students create a venn diagram to compare the two stories. Once completed, I would have them cut out their venn diagrams and paste them to construction paper. We could put these on the wall to help us remember the similarities and differences between the two stories.

3rd-5th Lauren Hamel
Seven Chinese Brothers, The Margaret Mahy

Before reading the story aloud, review the Power Point Presentation about Tall Tales: http://www.ecasd.k12.wi.us/faculty/rwojahn/talltales.cfm. Students will write a tall tale of their own. The tall tale needs to include basic story elements and remember to exaggerate the description and the abilities of the characters.

  • Main Characters/abilities
  • Other Characters/abilities
  • Setting
  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Ending


Jennifer Green
Swamp Angel Anne Isaacs

I like the idea of having students draw and illustrate a large sized character on paper and then add their own tall tale to go along with it. The tall tale could be written in much smaller font to emphasize the large role characters often play in tall tales. Also, students could write their own tall tale and then act it out in a play. They could even create a tall tale compilation book to keep in the classroom library. A helpful website to use when studying tall tales would be the following:  http://www.ket.org/encyclomedia/

Grades 2-5 Lesley Whitaker
Rising voices: Writings of young Native Americans Arlene Hirschfelder Students can use this collection and choose one of the pieces of writing. After reading this piece of writing the students can write down words that might not be familiar, phrases that are different from ones in their everyday lives, and how things are different in different cultures. After reading the piece and determining the things that are different students can write their own piece about thier lives and how things are done where they live. When all students are finished a book about their lives can be compiled then the classroom could send their book to another classroom in another country. This lesson could also be used in Social Studies in a unit on other cultures. Grades 6-8 Kayla McFarland
What My Mother Doesn't Know Sonya Sones

I would use this during poetry study in my Grade 10 MYP Language A Classes (MYP stands for the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program which is typically grades 7 through 10 ). Students in MYP are being grounded in learning based on Fundamental Concepts of communication, holistic Learning and intercultural awareness. They do that by approaching each of 6 Subject Areas (Maths, Science, Language A (native language), Language B (second or foreign language), Humanities, Technology and Physical Education) through one or more of six Approaches to Learning (APL) one of which is Health and social education. I would create an interdisciplinary unit with the MYP biology and MYP psychology (Humanities) instructors where as we went through the book the other instructors would come and talk about safe sex and teenage relationships. The students would be writing their own identity poems and essays on topics related to the study which at unit end would be collected by the class and self-published in a book for sale throughout out the school as well as to their families and the larger community. If the Arts Subject Group were involved, the book might be expanded to include topical student photography and illustrative art.


MYP Grade 10 Wendel Maunula


Walter Dean Myers

Following the MYP protocol outlined for the Sones poetry study above I would use this in my Grade 10 MYP Language A Classes to foreground the Environment and Community and service APL's. Here I would create an interdisciplinary unit with the MYP history and/or geography (Science) instructor(s). The unit would explore the history of race relations in selected large metropolitan areas like New York City. It might be expanded to inlcude a demographic study of ethnicity and race in the areas selected . Students would be required to do a fully documented research paper on a relevant topic and then do PowerPoint Presentation or Prezi on their work product to share their evidence based findings with the class. Appropriate portions of Ric Burns New: A Documentary Film would also be viewed, discussed and reported on. http://www.pbs.org/wnet/newyork/

If the cohort including budding film makers, they might be allowed to do a short documentary of their ethnic group.

MYP Grade 10

Wendel Maunula

Road Not Taken, The

Frost, Robert

This specific poem can be used to teach the skill of symbolism in upper elementary grade levels. The poem can be a bit difficult to understand to understand, so it is essential to do this as a whole-group lesson. If using with a high level class, you may be surprised to find out the connections they make with the poem. Personally, I saw them discussing the choices in their lives and even begin a discussion on Heaven and Hell.

After discussion of the poem, have the students write a letter to themselves from the future. Have them discuss the choices they made and where it has led them. Have them answer questions about their occupation, family, education, etc. It would be really cool to save the letters and have them and give to the students as they prepare for middle or even high school graduation.


Charlie Hamilton

Technically, It's Not My Fault John Grandits This is a collection of concrete poems written from the perspective of an 11 year old boy named Robert. This book would be a great introduction for students to learn about concrete poems and then to writing their own about everyday things that they see, experience, or wonder about in their lives. This link tells students how to create concrete poems: http://www.candlewick.com/book_files/0763606618.kit.1.pdf Grades 5-8



Every Thing On It Shel Silverstein

After reading several of his poems for insight, encourage students to create their very own creature. Once the creature is complete, the students write a poem about their creature. Encourage students to use alliteration and zaney vocabulary. Once thier poems and illustrations are complete, encourage students to present their poems and creature images to the class.

The following is a helpful website one might view when studying Shel Silverstein.


Grades 3-6 Lesley Whitaker
Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes Roald Dah Due to some word choices, I would use this book with high school students. I would have students read each of his rhymes from this book and then choose their favorite. Students then could rewrite the poem with their own version of the story. A teacher could also go further and allow students to visit his website at http://www.roalddahl.com. On this website students could look for other books by Roald Dahl to read and present on. 9-12 Bethany Endicott
One Inch Tall Shel Silverstein


I would use this website to display the poem as I read the poem. As a class we would talk about what things would be like if we were 1 ich tall. Then the students would illustrate and write a new stanza for the poem.

3rd Jennifer Campbell

A Light in the Attic

Shel Silverstein


Shel Silverstein’s poems have so much figurative language that it’s impossible to find a poem without them. Alliteration, similes and metaphors and hyperboles are some examples that this poet uses to convey to each of the five senses.  It would be great to use a four-flap foldable or graphic organizer to find examples of each of these types of figurative language. For a challenge, have students create their own nonsense poem using at least one of these tools.

2nd Grade

Erin Larkin


Shades of Gray

Carolyn Reeder

This book is a great way to integrate social studies and reading/writing. The book discusses a young boy's struggle after the Civil War that has killed his entire immediate family. He is forced to move in with relatives that he has never met before. As the story moves on, Will, has to make a decision about whether or not he is going to stay with the relatives or move back home to be with an old family friend. Once the dilema is presented to the reader, you could have the students create a t-chart to list reasons for staying with the Uncle or going back with Doc Martin. After creating the chart, have the students make the decision for Will and write the letter for Will with his decision. This helps the students build supporting details in their writing.

SOG, Doc Martin Letter.doc

Charlie Hamilton

Sarah, Plain and Tall  Patricia MacLachlan After reading this historical fiction novel in small groups or as a read aloud, have students discuss character traits for each character in the story.  Afterward, have students compare and contrast the characters using an interactive Venn Diagram from the following website: http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/venn-diagram-circles-30006.html.  For example, have students compare and contrast Anna and her younger brother, Caleb.  Grades 2-3 Daneika (Nikki) Hunt
Cabin Faced West, The Jean Fritz

The book could be used when discussing how settlers moved from the more populated Eastern United States into the relative "wilderness" of the west.  A good lesson would be be to complete a compare/contrast with then and now. Another lesson could discuss life during this time period in comparison to life in settled areas and life on the frontier.

One good lesson with this book would be to have each student create a journal. In order to make the feel of the writing process relate back to the story the journals could be made to look like an old journal from the 1700's. The teacher could work with the students on sentence structure, punctuation, etc.  

Below I have included a link that provides an excellent way to create one of these journals. The students should write an entry each day about what is going on at school or in their lives. At the conclusion of the book allow the students (those who are willing) to read a few excerpts from their own journals. This would be an excellent way for each student to relate with Ann from the story and would offer extra practice for their writing skills.  I placed this post in Social Studies as well with a few changes to relate it to the Social Studies content. 




Richard Frazier
Number The Stars  Lois Lowry

This book is told from a ten-year-old girl’s point of view that helps her best friend and her friend’s family from the Nazis during the war. Students could keep their own journal as if they were a child in this time and place. Students could answer questions daily about what they did, had seen, had heard, and how they could stay alive. What would life be like as a child during the war?

As a twist on the assignment, a teacher could randomly hand out names of children who could have lived in Copenhagen at this time. Each day they would receive a prompt or scenario about their life. The student could then reflect and strategixe to stay alive and safe.
Fourth Grade or higher Bethany Endicott
Bud, Not Buddy  Christopher Curtis  In the book Bud, Not Buddy, Bud has a list of rules to live by. A great writing activity for students would be to have students create their own "rules to live by" from their experience with life. Give students 15 minutes to create a list of 10 rules to live by. After 10 minutes divide students up into groups and have them discuss what rules they came up with and why. Students have to give their reasoning and provide personal experiences to why they chose to put the rule on their list.  3rd-5th Jessica Isenhour
Seven Blind Mice Ed Young

Talk to children about PERSPECTIVE, and the moral of wisdom coming from seeing the whole. Then help the children create their own fable based on the story by choosing another big entity (animal, building, tree, etc.). Use chart paper for each page they create, and then let small groups illustrate each page. You will have a big book when finished, and you can create the title page with all the students’ names. Grades 2-6

2-6 Dr. Gibson
Joyful Noise:  Poems for Two Voices  Paul Fleischman  Discuss FLUENCY and the idea of choral reading to strengthen fluency.  Guide children through choral readings of the poems in this book.  The author's "booming/boisterous/joyful" way of using the world of insects will grab students attention in ways that lend itself to focus on fluency.  Students can then work in pairs to practice and assist one another.  This is a creative way of exaggerating tones to increase fluency focus. 3-5 Lauralee Samples
King Who Rained, The Fred Gwynne

The King Who Rained, by Fred Gwynne, is a great book to teach students about the concept of a word play, specifically homonyms.  The book contains phrases such as:  “Daddy says there was a king who rained for forty years”, “Did you ever hear such a bunch of fairy tails?”, “My mom has a frog in her throat”, “A coat of arms”, “The foot prince in the snow”, and “Boars coming to dinner.”  The comical illustrations complement the word play perfectly.

After a class read aloud of The King Who Rained, students can create their own word play and illustrate the word play appropriately as a post-reading activity.  When the students have completed their word play and illustration, they can share them with their classmates.  The teacher can take each student’s word play and illustration and compile them into a book.  Students can use the book as a reference when they need help with developing word plays.  

If your school has a subscription to Brain Pop Jr. (www.brainpopjr.com), there is a video titled "Homonyms" under the Reading & Writing tab.  In addition to the video, it includes an easy and hard quiz about homonyms, an interactive game, lesson ideas, and a list of recommended books.

Grades 2-4 Laura Beth Menser
Relatives Came, The Cynthia Rylant

The Relatives Came is an excellent trade book to use to show and model explains of fabulous descriptive writing. We often want students in their writing to be as elaborate as possible, giving lots of details when telling their own narratives. For example, on the second page, Rylant describes the car as, “an old station wagon that smelled like a real car.” Later once the relatives leave it says the family went back to their beds, “that felt too big and were too quiet.” Rylant even says at one point, “it was hard to fall asleep with all the new breathing in the house.”  These descriptions evoke the words on the page and you get a real sense of what it was like in the house. When working on their own personal narratives, it is crucial to show students excellent models of literature that show what you are looking for them to do in their own writing. This story is an excellent choice.  The teacher could discuss the concept of “show not tell” and give them some examples. They tell the students that they are going to read through the story and pick out examples where Rylant has done this. Older grades, with multiple copies, could do this in small groups or partners as well. Then you can have them apply this to their own writing, whether it be a writing piece that you are working on currently or simply have them write down a short story were they can practice this writing technique. For younger students, there is a lot of the vocabulary in the story that may new and unfamiliar to them.This website http://new.thesolutionsite.com/solutionsite/data/17552/lesson2relativescame.htm also has a lot of great activities, including some matching games and quizzes that would be helpful for them. Also, www.brainpopjr.com has a video on Cynthia Rylant that talks about how she used her own family experiences to write a lot of her stories. This would also be helping when talking about narratives with the students. I have also taught this lesson with my own class. One thing we did that was very helpful was I put some of the passages up on my SmartBoard in smart software (or you could do a PowerPoint). Then I had the students underline the descriptive phrases, where Rylant did “show not tell”.

Brittney Sanderson
Owl Moon  Jane Yolen  Discuss the experience the little girl had with her father and how her story is a personal narrative. The students should have some prior knowledge of personal narratives before doing this activity. Have students think of a time when something small with a special person meant a great deal. Students write about this time, describing in great detail how they felt.   Grade: 3rd Beth Wooley
Giggl.e, Giggle, Quack

Doreen Cronin

Illustrator:  Betsy Lewin 

This fun book about what farm animals do when the farmer is away, can be used to teach students to make inferences and predictions while reading.  This is an essential comprehensive strategy that students need to start practicing early on in their education.  It is easy for students to make predictions in the early grades, but as content gets more complex as they move up in grades, it becomes more difficult for them to make inferences.  Giggle, Giggle, Quack is a great book to use to introduce making inferences.  Use this book for a read aloud and stop to model thinking aloud and making predictions.  While reading, stop and predict what the next note will ask for.  Then ask for volunteers to predict what will happen next.  Before the end of the story, see if the students can infer who is writing the notes, but tell them to write it down and not to share it with the whole class yet.  After the story is complete, ask students to hold up who they inferred was the culprit behind all of the notes.  Then a class discussion can be held about what the students inferred.  Have the students share what clues lead them to their inference.  K-2  Cara Esarey
 To Root, to Toot, to Parachute

 Author: Brian P. Cleary

Illustrator: Jenya Prosmitsky

This book introduces children to verbs through the use of vivid pictures. Parts of speech are difficult for children to learn and can many times be boring to learn. If I were to use this book in my classroom I would read it as an introduction to verbs and then set up stations around the learn for students to practice using verbs in different ways. 

1- On chart paper titled VERBS- write the meaning of a verb and then find pictures in magazines of verbs. Students would then cut, glue to the  chart, and label the verbs.

2- Place students in small groups (3-5) and have them play charades with verbs.

3- Student's choose 5 verbs to illustrate and use in sentences.

4- Take students for a walk around the school to observe and record as many verbs as they see happening. Students can compare their lists when they return to the classroom. 

 Grades: 1-2
 Britny Robertson
Hunger Games  Suzanne Collin

One activity to enhance skills in understanding character development, students can create posters of each character based on how they're described in the book.  Students would have to support various features with examples from the book. Another activity involves students reading the book, then writing another chapter, sequel, or alternate ending.  This activity would encourage creative thinking and imagination.  Students could alter, add, or remove characters based on their interpretation of the ending and how they think the sequel may go. 

grade 7-8

Brad Abell


Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears Verna Aardema This book is a wonderful example of a pourquoi folktale, or the type of traditional literature that explains WHY things happen in nature. Before reading this story, we would make a chart of the reasons the students think mosquitoes buzz in peoples ears. After reading the story, we will discuss why the book says it happens and what we think about that. We will then discuss where we think this came from and why it would be a story that was passed down from generation to generation. After this discussion, students will be given a chance to create their own pourquoi folktale. Each student will pull from a hat a piece of paper that contains a WHY question from nature. "Why is the sky blue" "why do bees sting" "why do babies cry", etc. Each student is to create their own explanation of that question in the style of a pourquoi folktale.  grade 6-8 Haley Bathiany

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears









  First read and discuss the story, Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears.  Then the teacher will point out that several folktales try to explain why some things happen in nature, these are called pourquoi tales.  Depending on the age group students can either be placed in groups, work individually or work as a whole class.  Students will create their own pourquoi tale by choosing something from nature and explaining why it does what it does.  Some examples, why do dogs bark?, why don’t snakes have arms?, etc.  Let the student or groups use their imagination but try to have a variety of topics.  Once the pourquoi tales are finished allow them to share with the class. 

Students can visit the following website to explore other folktales and legends:


The following link has a list of other pourquoi tales that can be read in class:


Use the following resource to help students brainstorm ideas for their own pourquoi tale:



2 - 5

Heather Shepherd
Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood  Mike Artell This story is a version of the classic folktale, Little Red Riding Hood, that features elements of the Cajun culture. I utilized this story recently in a lesson that I facilitated about the comprehension strategy of “questioning”. In the beginning of the lesson, I wrote the word “question” on the board and asked the students to brainstorm a list of questions. Next, I showed them the cover of the story for about 20 seconds and asked them to develop questions they had about the story, giving them three post-it notes, I asked them to write their questions about the cover on one of the sticky notes.  Then, I displayed on the Smart Board a map of Louisiana and we discussed the Cajun culture and then a U.S. map to discuss the orientation of Louisiana with Kentucky- to build background.  I then asked students to develop two more questions as I read the story (one from the middle and then one after the story was complete).  At points in the story, I would think-aloud questions that I had as a model for the students. I utilized a PowerPoint presentation of the book, however I recently also found this book read aloud by the author on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p7uZDNxjRc0 - make sure you see all five parts). During the story, the students remained engaged because of the differences between this story and the classic tale, yet mostly because they were enthralled with the Cajun dialect (which I had lots of fun attempting to portray).  After the story and questions were complete and in Day Two of the lesson, I asked students to work with a partner on computers to develop an electronic flipbook which can be found at http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/flip-book-30054.html.

Students were asked to create question and answer pages, by choosing one question they had from the beginning, middle and end of the book. If they had a question that they did not know the answer too, then they were to leave the answer page blank (except for the page label). After all flip books were printed, they were displayed around the room and students completed a “gallery walk”.  Students were asked to offer answers to questions that did not have an answer.  At the end of the lesson, students completed an “Exit Slip” asking them to list their favorite question, an answer that surprised them and an answer that they still did not know.  The higher-order thinking level of this activity could be increased by asking students to write “QAR” questions (Question and Answer Relationship), by setting the expectation that they develop one question from the story from each of the four types- “Right There”, “Think and Search”, “On Your Own” and “Author and Me”.  This lesson could be extended by using other versions of the Little Red Riding Hood

folktale. Students could further practice their questioning techniques as well as compare and contrast the different versions of the stories.

Grades 3-5

Robin Hancock


Same, Same but Different  Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw

This is a mulitcultural story about two children, one living in America, one living in India, that become pen pals and write each other about their homelands.  After reading the book,  and discussing the many ways the children are alike and different through use of a Venn diagram, the class could have a virtual pen pal by going to ePals Global Community website: http://www.epals.com/ Students can connect with other students around the world and become part of a global social learning network.

K-4 Jana Harrison
Henny-Penny Jane Wattenberg

After reading the story, a great activity to continue teaching rhyme would be to have the students identify all the rhyming words in the story. (Students could work in pairs). If students have difficulty identifying rhyming words, the teacher could give students two examples and have the students tell which ones rhyme. Afterwards, students would be asked to think of a rhyming word that goes along with everyone's name in the class. For example, "Amy Lamey" or "Frank Tank." Pictures could be drawn afterwards that relate to the name. For example, "Frank Tank" could draw himself half human/half tank. Some names may be more challenging to come up with a picture.

http://www.brainpopjr.com has an excellent video on rhyming words as well as poetry and activities as well as games that students can play to continue understanding rhyme. In the game that's available on the website, students have to "catch" all the words that rhyme in brain. 

K-2 Morgan Hagedorn
Egyptian Cinderella, The
Ruth Heller After reading the story, create a Venn diagram on the Smart Board. Review the traditional version (the one they are most familiar with) of Cinderella by discussing the main points. Have students draw a Venn diagram (or print one off for them) and have them compare and contrast the two stories. Hold a discussion after independent work and fill in the diagram on the board (students can do this). 3-4 Angela Crider
Grandfather's Journey  Allen Say 

Since this book is based on the journey and experiences that made the Grandfather and his family who they are I think that this would be a great opportunity to write a "Where I'm From" poem. http://www.georgeellalyon.com/where.html (see the previous website for more information). The students could take the opportunity to talk to their parents about where their family is from so that they can tie it into their poem much like Allen Say did with his Grandfather's journey. The pictures really pop out in this book, it actually won the Caldecott Award, so the students could break their poems apart and possibly make paintings to go along with each section in their art class.  

4-6  Amanda Sigmon 

d’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths


Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

This would be a good book to use in partnership with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series or the second series by author Rick Riordan, The Heroes of Olympus.  It tells details of the gods and goddesses that those novels don’t always include.  Another thing to use in the study of mythology is the following webquest: http://www.fairfieldschools.org/rogerludlowe/crogerludlowe03/webquests/mythweb/index.htm 

This WebQuest includes research on the gods and their stories, then students work together to create their own myth and write it as a script.

5th-6th grade Samantha Fry
Baseball Saved Us  Ken Mochizuki 

After distributing the elements of historical fiction read Baseball Saved Us and then have students in pairs re-read the book again. Using a Venn Diagram have the students write down what the difference are between that book on one of their choosing that is a fiction book. In the center have students list events, characters, or facts from the book.

Additional resource: http://www.leeandlow.com/p/baseball_tg.mhtml  This site has great Social Studies activities too.

4th-6th grade Sara Jones
Selected Poems of Langston Hughes  Langston Hughes 

In the language arts class, the students can choose a poem and write about how it makes them feel inside their minds.  Then, place the thoughts on paper.  There are many poems written in Southern dialect, so allow the students to use their grammar rules and rewrite the poems.  There are several poems that are about the beauty of nature.  Students can select a poem, draw it, and have other students guess which poem the drawing explains.

There are many websites about lesson plans for this book.

1.  http://www.bookrags.com/lessonplan/selected-poems-of-langston-hughes/intro.html

This site has it all from lesson plans to several types of test questions.  AWESOME site!!!

2.  http://www.webenglishteacher.com/hughes.html

This site covers the  many ideas for lessons for school courses.

If Not For The Cat Jack Prelutsky With students, I would read the story without showing the illustrations. I would, in advance, have each part of the story typed on a piece of paper. Each student would receive a different page, a few receiving the same animal.  The students would have to first look up any vocabulary words they did not know because some of the words are rather difficult. I would then have them guess the animal or creature, write the name, and draw a picture of it or find a picture online or in a magazine. Once the whole class was finished, I would read the story again and they could check their guesses. I would then have the students create a powerpoint or keynote slideshow to show their version of the book. I think the students would enjoy this project and putting together their own discoveries of the story. 3-5 Jessica Lear
Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms, A
Selected by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Chris Raschka 

Students can work through A Kick in the Head, focusing on a different poetic form each week.  Janeczko offers twenty-nine forms and there are thirty-six weeks in the school year, which would allow for a few off-weeks around breaks.  Starting with the couplet, students would write a poem in the form of the week and publish it on the course website or wiki.  Poetic forms are constraining enough, so students should be allowed the freedom to write whatever they’d like within the forms’ limitations...keeping it clean and school-appropriate, of course!  If you’re really industrious, you could compile an anthology of the best poetry of the year and have it bound to give to each of the students…or sell as a fundraiser!  Since the text suggests beginning and ending each day with a poem and that isn’t really realistic for a high school classroom, this would be a fun and effective way to incorporate poetry into the curriculum. 

Grades 9-12 Kate Hendrix 
Strega Nona  Tomie dePaola  This would also be a good book to introduce folk tales or tales from other countries. After reading the book aloud, you could discuss the moral of the story and extend that into asking the students they would do if they were in Anthony's place. Another fun activity to go with this story is to have the students create a help wanted poster like Strega Nona did. You can also read more about how Tomie dePaola came to write Strega Nona here:  http://www.tomie.com/books/spotlight_on_strega.html 2-3 Melissa Rahe
Gary Paulsen
This book could be used in the language arts classroom to have students create their own slave narrative. After reading the book students can create their own story that chronicles their life as if they were living on a plantation. This is a great way to have students create different dialect. They can also create dialogue and write in the same style that Paulsen does with Sarny. After completing the narratives the students could present their stories out loud to their peers.
Shakira Harris

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Mildred D. Taylor

The title of the book comes from a poem the author wrote and uses in the story.  As a final reflection of the book, students would write their own poem from the point of view of a character of their choice.  A rubric should be provided for students with specific requirements about their poems (requirements should vary by grade level).  Sharing and discussing these poems within small groups or literature circles would provide a great extension to understanding characters within the book.  

5th - 8th grades

Carrie Emmons

November Blues

Sharon Draper

After reading a controversial book and one that can grab the attention of any teenager, students would create an additional story as an epilogue to share with the class once finished. Students would be provided with a rubric requiring certain elements and criteria of language arts terms and concepts that can be created by the teacher based on what has been covered at the time of the activity.

The following website offers more background and enrichment information:


7th Grade - 12th Grade

Misty Meadors





Face Girl, The

Barbara Karlin


Rafe Martin

I would teach a unit on the classic fairy tale "Cinderella." Over the course of the unit, I would read both versions of the tale (listed to the left)--along with several others. After students have been exposed to both these versions and discussed them in depth, I would ask them to complete a Venn Diagram where they must compare and contrast the two versions. Students could work individually or with a buddy depending on the overall objectives of the unit and the ability of the students. (For younger students, this could be done as a whole group with the teacher recording students' responses on chart paper.) To facilitate their thinking, I would encourage them to consider both physical and emotional traits of the characters, but also the settings, problems, and solutions. Here are some possible responses that students may share on their Venn Diagrams.

Ways the stories are similar:

  • Both girls are mistreated.
  • Both girls are kind to others, including those who are cruel.
  • Both girls are forced to do work at home. 
  • Both girls get help from another individual. 
  • Both girls experience a transformation. 
  • The sisters/stepsisters pretend to be something they're not (acting as if the slipper fits in Cinderella and pretending to see the Invisible Being in The Rough-Face Girl).
  • They both live happily ever after. 

Ways the stories are different:

  • Their appearances are very different.
  • The stories are set in different places (small village off of Lake Ontario in The Rough-Face Girl and a vaguely described land in Cinderella).
  • The Rough-Face girl has sisters, not stepsisters.  
  • The illustrations differ in their colors (bright colors in Cinderella and earth tones in The Rough-Face Girl). 

Click on the link for a Venn Diagram worksheet that can be downloaded and printed for use with this lesson.



Fourth Grade

Lindsey Roberts


Ashley Bryan's ABC of African American Poetry

Ashley Bryan

Language Arts Unit:

This book would be an extension to a poetry unit. Students would analyze, then compare and contrast several types of poetry. This book would expose students to a different culture's poetry.  I would have students create a venn-diagram of the similarities and differences in this book and the other poems we have read.

Social Studies/Writing Extension:

The class would then be given an ancient culture to research, you could stay with African American or choose another culture you will be covering in the content.  They would then be asked to design their own class ABC book of poems as if they were from that culture.

Technology/Art Extension:

Students can use TuxPaint, a free online drawing program, to create the art work for their page of the book.

http://www.tuxpaint.org/  (visit this website for the free download)


Joanne Hicks

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry 

Mildred Taylor

Literature circles with discussion of plot, characters, societal differences (contrast today/vs. society then), the big questions, and the theme of overcoming hardships.  One activity I found that I really like would be to create a billboard. Students will use knowledge of real world billboards and research different types of billboards. After reading the book students will create a meaningful billboard from the perspective of their favorite character (using morals that uplift and have positive messages for their favorite characters in the book).  http://www.readwritethink.org/parent-afterschool-resources/activities-projects/beguiling-billboards-finding-inspiration-30779.html

-A reading activity would include a story map to organize the characters, plot, setting and theme of the book.



Wendy Philpot

Egyptian Cinderella, The

Shirley Climo

I would use this book along with several other versions of Cinderella. I would have the students pick two different versions to read and then work on the comprehending skill of comparing and contrasting. I would have the students use a venn diagram to help with the task of comparing and contrasting two different versions of Cinderella.

2nd - 4th graders

Tara Keen


Jack Tales

Richard Chase

This collection of Jack Tales from the Applachian region of America is the perfect opportunity to implement a story-telling unit with students.  Based on the English Jack Tales (Jack and the Beanstalk, etc.), they are traditional tales that are passed down by word-of-mouth.  These Jack Tales were collected from moutain people of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and North Carolina.  To teach the concept of storytelling, I would use this book as an example of how stories all have common roots, but that through the oral tradition, they can and will be changed and adapted, according to who is telling them and where they are being told.   I would use the below web resource to discuss storytelling as an art, as well as show how and where to collect stories:


 I would then require students to create a project where they interview a local individual who has a story that was passed down for years, record and transcript the story, and create a Prezi presentation.  The presentation will illustrate the topic, who told it, why the story was told, and who the original story came from (if possible to discern).  Finally, after presenting the Prezi (which will give the background information for the story), each student is to retell the story that they collected, either live or through a personal recording.  They will follow the rubric linked through the link below, which I will use to grade their entire presentation (the following link also includes many other helpful resources for teaching storytelling and implementing it into a student project):


In accordance with the ELA Common Core Standards, students would be expected to follow the requirements of the following standards:

Speaking and Listening Standard 11-12, #2: Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.

Speaking and Listening Standard 11-12, #4:Present information, findings, and supporting evidence, conveying a clear and distinct perspective, such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning, alternative or opposing perspectives are addressed, and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and a range of formal and informal tasks.

Speaking and Listening Standard 11-12, #5:Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence to add interest. 


Maegan Renick

American Tall Tales 

Mary Pope Osborne

After reading the stories and listening to the tall tales as told through storytelling, the students will create their own tall tale heroes.  They will have a choice of writing a story about their created hero or drawing a cartoon/comic strip of their tall tale.  Students can use a variety of resources, including classroom materials and web resources.  The students will be given ample time to develop their character and assemble their story or comic/cartoon.  All students will present their story to the class by either reading or displaying their comic strip.


Grades 3-6

Christa Osborn

Boy Named Beckoning, A

Gina Capaldi

This is a true story of Dr. Carlos Montezuma, a Native American who was kidnapped as a young boy and rescued from slavery when he was purchased by an Italian photographer who raises him like a son.    His life story is told in  Montezuma's own words, this is a great opportunity to teach about autobiographies! 

3.RL.3. Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events

Using this book and this standard I would have the students complete a graphic organizer to list and organize different feelings and emotions of Montezuma.  After the students have thought of Montezuma's feelings and shared their responses there would be a whole group discussion of how he succeded despite his hardships, what he did, and what happened to him as a result of his actions. 

grades 2-4

Courtney Hertsenberg

Her Stories African America Folk Tales, Fairy Tales and True Tales 



Students will choose a country to research on the computer. They will look for folk tales, fairy tales and legends that is associated with their country. Students will then compare/contrast their country with the "Her Stories". They will then gather in their literature circles to discuss their findings.  Students will also choose between writing a folk tale or making a power point on the differences between a folk tale, fairy tale and legend.  

Grades 4-6



Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears

Verna Aardema

After reading this West African folktale, students will choose a character/animal from the story. They will draw a picture of their character and tell what inference their character made in the story. Students will also correctly identify one of the themes from the story: "Our actions have an effect on those around us" or "We should take responsibility for our actions" and explain the meaning of the theme they chose.

website: http://www.teachervision.fen.com/lesson-plan/reading-comprehension/48614.html

Extension: Continue reading other multicultural folktales with similar themes and then compare and contrast the stories.


Trish Roederer

If Pigs Could Fly... and Other Deep Thoughts 

Bruce Lansky 

This book should be used as an introduction to poetry.  Students would be very involved with these types of poems because they relate very much to their own lives.  Students should listen to several poems each day in order to get a feel for writing poems on their own.  They would then be asked to write their own poems based on what was read to them.  This is not to be done to introduce many of the literary elements, but to allow them just to write poems.  After working with these poems for at least two weeks, then the teacher can begin to show the students how to analyze their own poems to see if they included literary elements.  If they did not include many elements, then revision of the poems can be done.  However, most students will probably include many of the elements without even knowing it.   

Grades 2-4 

Cynthia (Cindy) Wilson 

Paul Revere's Ride: The Landlord's Tale 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

This book is a children's picture book, created to illustrate Henry Longfellow's famous poem "Paul Revere's Ride." The poem could be read aloud as a class and then the students could read the poem to one another in pairs to gain practice reading poetry. The poem is a narrative poem and tells of Paul Revere's journey through different towns to warn colonists that the British were coming. Longfellow wrote this poem by stretching the actual facts of the night. Students could be led in a discussion about how sometimes poets and authors use certain facts and leave out others to make their tales more interesting. The students could pair up and reasearch what actually happened the night that Paul Revere took his famous ride. The students could then compare and contrast the poem and the facts. They could then make two columns. In the first column, students could write the events in the poem that are not true, and then in the second column, write what actually happened. This lesson would reinforce students' knowledge of comparing and contrasting true and untrue information. After sharing what the students found, a discussion could occur about why Longfellow chose to leave out some of the true facts from the poem.

4th-5th grade 

Lindsay Williams

Light in the Attic, A

Shel Silverstein


Activity: In this activity students will take on the persona of their favorite character from one of Silverstein's poems and write "I'm in Charge of the World" from the character's perspective. The link below has the form the student will use to write their poem. This activity is great to aid younger students in writing poetry and using their creativity.

www.ettcweb.lr.k12.nj.us/forms/newpoem.htm  Click on "I'm in Charge of the World"

Grades 2 and up.

Michelle Czepyha

Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys

Bob Raczka 

This book of poetry consists of Haiku poems that are written for boys.  It is divided into four sections for each season, Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall.  It is a collection of Haiku poem that describe activities that boys would like to do during that particular season.  For example, swimming, and fishing in summer.  Typically, MAP scores have shown that boys at our school score lower in reading than girls and therefore, this is an identifiable achievement gap.  In order to spark boys' interest in reading, this Haiku book could be presented to the class, read aloud and then students could try their hand at composing their own Haiku poems describing their favorite activity.  This book has an excellent, kid-friendly, website that uses interactive games to teach students how to write Haiku poems.  The web site has a Haiku club to join, instructions to writing Haiku, Guyku examples and a teacher resource link.  The author has published a Galku book of Haiku poems for girls as well.  I would have my class read poems from the book, explore the web site www.guykuhaiku.com on the active board, use the teacher resources such as a Haiku template worksheet, examples and instructions for writing.  I would then assign the class to make a Haiku greeting card and show examples from the website.  This activity is outside my subject of teaching and also would be appropriate for high school language arts classes, which are outside of my grade level of teaching.

Grades 3 and up 

Myra Jo Kean 

Moon, The

Robert Louis Stevenson 

This story is a single illustrated poem written by Stevenson to emphasize the influence of The Moon on a small town.  This lesson has an emphasize on the writing and language mechanics of metaphors and similes.  I would read this poem to the class and then have the students read it with me.  We would then act it out putting emphasize on the parts that highlighted these specific language mechanics.  After doing so I would have the students write a response to what they have read.  (Even as a kindergarten teacher I have my students write about what they are reading.  I believe it is very important that students process what they have read and are able to get their thoughts down on paper.)  After doing so we would do some of the interactive activities found on this webpage using the smartboard:


After taking part in the activity I would have the students write their own poem using metaphors and similies in their writing.

5th-6th grade 

Brittany Lin 

If the Shoe Fits

Laura Whipple

This lesson focuses on the literary elements of personificationand rhythm in poetry; it uses Laura Whipple's If the Shoe Fits, a gouache illustrated book for young readers in which the author playfully adds voice to both main and secondary characters in the Cinderella story, which you may have to read to the kids if they have never heard it.  Alternatively, you can show the Disney film if you have time.

Explain to students that poetry is to the ears what art is to the eyes.  Poetry is sound art, created with precise words and structures deliberately chosen to create a desired effect.  One way poetry does this is through the use of personification and rhythm.

Activity: read If the Shoe Fits with the class, noting places in which the author uses short, rhythmic lines (be sure to demonstrate with hand motions how those lines create a cadence or beat) and those that demonstrate personification.  Afterwards, have the students, once they get home, find an article of clothing, a toy, or anything else they may have that has significant personal attachment for them: an old pair of shoes they just can't bring themselves to throw away, a teddy bear that helps them get through stormy nights, or perhaps a beat-up game controller that seems to fit one's hands better than the brand new one she got for Christmas.

Once a suitable object has been located, have the students personify the object in a rhythmic poem, giving it voice like the many characters in If the Shoe Fits.  Tell them to refer back to the poems on page 48 (Cinderella's Slipper) and page 52 (Feet) if they forget what personification is.

Tell students as they write the poem to think about how that object would feel if it were alive, the things it might think about as it relates to the owner or the function in which it serves.  Tell them to model their poems after the ones in the book.

Build Background: A possible lead-in activity that can help explain personification could be to read "Fog," by Carl Sandburg (see below).  Ask the students to think about what they know about cats and how those qualities might apply to fog, which will help you explain how personification can be used to create poetry.  If you have kids who have never seen fog, watch these videos:




THE fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Grade 6 and up

Derek Poe

Something Big Has Been Here

Jack Prelutsky

This book is a collection of hilarious poems perfect for teaching  a variety of literary terms to your students.  This will focus on one poem from the book entitled " My Neighbor's Dog is Purple." 

My Neighbor's Dog Is Purple

My neighbor's dog is purple,
its eyes are large and green,
its tail is almost endless,
the longest I have seen.

My neighbor's dog is quiet,
it does not bark one bit,
but when my neighbor's dog is near,
I feel afraid of it.

My neighbor's dog looks nasty,
it has a wicked smile. . . .
before my neighbor painted it,
it was a crocodile.

This poem is perfect for teaching the literacy comprehension strategy of visualization and teaching students that visualizations can change.  To create visualizations readers must use sensory words to create a mental image in their mind without relying on the pictures. This is especially important with poetry as it is often short and does not provide many illustrations.  For this activity you would need to provide the students with a sheet of paper divided into two sections.  On the left hand side the students would need to write "My Mental Image" and on the right hand side students would need to write "My New Mental Image."  Read the first two stanzas to the students and have them illustrate their visualization/mental imgage on the left hand side.  Give students time to complete.  Then read the last two stanzas and have students illustrate their new mental image/visualization.  After students have illustrated have students discuss the words from the poem that helped them create their mental image.  Then have students discuss how that mental image changed with further reading.  Discuss with students how creating a mental image is strategy that they can use to help them understand things they read including poems as well as, stories. Visualizing is using the author's words and our schema to create a mental image. Students should then apply this strategy to reading.  Repeat lesson with various stories and poems. 

To help students remember visualizing show them this video and have them perform the song each day before beginning you literature lesson of the day. 


Grades 1-3 

Ashley Cornelison  

Guess Again!

Mac Barnett

This book is an illustrated poem, which uses sound patterns and rhyme throughout, making it very enjoyable and young reader-friendly.  The author has used the format of a riddle for this book, so that each page is written as a poem in which the last word is missing.  Since students listen for the rhyming/sound patterns throughout, they are sure of their guesses, but the author always surprises them with the unexpected.  For example, he writes "Their fleece is warm and woolly white.  And when you lie awake at night, count them and you'll fall asleep.  A guess?  Why, yes!  A flock of..."   (students would guess sheep)  "Abominable snow monsters."  Surprise ending is the key for this one!  Activity:  After reading the book, students can choose a topic and create a list of a few rhyming words.  Using those rhyming words, students will create a riddle type-poem about their topic.  For more advanced learners, a surprise ending could be created (in the style of the author).  Students should share their poetry with the class to practice speaking and listening skills.

1st-3rd Grade

Julie Lynn

Love that Dog

Sharon Creech

This book is a great tool to use for older students who are having a hard time relating to poetry.  Jack who thinks poetry is only for girls finds that he can write poems with encouragement from his teacher.  Jack is able to meet with one of his favorite writers Walter Meyers, who inspires him to write about a painful experience, which was the death of his dog.  This narrative poetry book tells Jack's story using similes, metaphors, and several onomatopoeic words.  Love that Dog also provides opportunities for students to understand text to self.  Activity:  Read a selection from the book and have students brainstorm a personal experience that they may have had happen in their life. Have students write down their own personal experiences.  Teachers may want to model this activity by prompting students to say, "this reminds me of my dog, cat, etc." and have them write down their personal experiences.  Have students get into small groups and using sticky notes have students mark pages and lines that have similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia words, and star where they can make a personal connection.  Love that Dog is also a great teaching tool to introduce free verse poetry.  Free verse poetry does not have a regular meter or rhyme scheme.  Since the story is free verse students, especially boys, can realize that poetry doesn't have to be rhyming and all about love. Have students create small literature circles to discuss what they marked on their own.  Have students discuss what they have marked with their sticky notes.  This is a great way to get students to debate.

6th-8th Grade

Jamie Owe

Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, The

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

One reading skill that could be taught with this poem is sequence. Sequencing clue words, such as first, next, and then can show sequence, but other clues are dates and time of day. Students could use this poem and create a graphic organizer to help them understand and remember what they read. A time line would help them keep track of the sequence of events.

Grades 5-7

Kim Jones 

Out of the Dust 

Karen Hess

If this story was written from her father’s point of view, what would the story lose?  I would use this book in a language arts class by having the students analyze the plot, characters, point of view, the author’s style, and the theme/purpose.  Then have them make connections to their own lives. Also, students should write a poem.  The end assignment would be for students to choose one of the poems and rewrite it from the point of view of Billie Jo's father.



Shawna Irvin 

Lily's Crossing

Patricia Reilly Giff 

A reading/language arts connection could be made in the classroom through the publication of a newspaper. In the story, the Rockaway Times is the town paper. Students reading this book could produce an issue of the newspaper. The class could be placed in six groups, each group responsible for different areas, such as a lead story, feature story, editorials, arts and entertainment, advertisements, and daily living. Students would need to remember that they are reporters during the summer of 1944 and make sure their stories are significant and true to the time, but also to the story. Some local newspapers have "newspapers in education" programs that they sponsor and could send someone to speak to the class   

4-6 grade 

Kim Jones 

How to Write a Book Report 

Cecilia Minden and Kate Roth

I would read the first chapter, model the steps, then I would have student choose a short nonfiction book for their book report. For example, "What is a Reptile" or another book that interest them. Then I would continue on to the next chapter and do the same steps modeling and practice throughout the book. Everyone should take the time to invest in this book for writing. You can also use it to teach different reading terms as well or explain what non-fiction book would be.

2nd - 4th grades

Tara Keen

Bud, Not Buddy 

Christopher Paul Curtis

This book could be used to teach students about character analysis.  Students could compare Bud and his friend Bugs.  They could discuss the character traits that are similar and diffenent for each character.  Students are given very vivid information to use throughout the text, so this type of activity would be simple for them to complete, even though character analysis can be difficult. 

4th grade

Cynthia (Cindy) Wilson

Seven Blind Mice
Young, Ed

I read this story three times in one sitting.  Each time, I made a new observation about how to use this in my sixth grade classroom.  With regard to illustration,  I want to use this book as an example of how an author uses imagery to tell a story by tantalizing all of the readers' senses. In this case, we could talk about the pictures, the different textures, the colors of the mice, the sounds of their voices,  and how the mice describe the Something.  I have "I can" statements that correlate with my standards; therefore my writing objective for W6.3 would be "I can use precise words and phrases, relevant descriptive details, and sensory language to convey experiences and events."

Also, I am revising this post to include the artistic style as realistic.  Even though Young is inspired by Chinese paintings, he definitely shows the true shapes of the mice and parts of the Something.  Our text defines this style as "natural forms and accurate representations without idealization" (86).


Sherrie Norris


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