Summer is wearing thin, and as much as we aren't QUITE ready, our brains are subconsciously not letting us forget that the 2015-2016 school year is upon us. I don't know about you, but I have already officially had my first of what I'm sure with be many "school nightmare" dreams where I forget my lesson plan, can't control a student, etc., etc., etc. One of the first things I like to decide at the beginning of a school year is what interactive read aloud I would like to read first with my students. Below are four of my favorite fiction novels that I've used in the past for read alouds, what types of Reading Workshop minilessons would fit nicely with the book, and what types of themes come up in the book to build classroom community through the read aloud experience.
Seedfolks is a favorite of mine read aloud of mine because it's composed of thirteen quick chapters, each chapter being from a new character. All the characters relate to one another because they live in a run-down apartment complex where a community garden is started.
Reading Minilessons: Point of View, Character Analysis, Setting Analysis, Complex Plot (tracking character relationships), Prediction
Themes: Everyone is connected, make where you are beautiful, one small step can create a huge effect
The Tiger Rising has all the makings of the perfect book for a read aloud: beautiful language, complex characters and character relationships, and a unique plot. It has been a go-to read aloud for me, and my students have always devoured the text each time we've read it.
Reading Minilessons: Character Analysis, Figurative Language, Author's Craft, Prediction, Inference, Analysis of Ending
Writing Minilessons: This book goes great with Writing Workshop as a mentor text as well. Show Don't Tell (taking small moments and making them big), using figurative language in writing, subtly characterizing a character through the characters thoughts, actions, and what he/she says in dialogue
Themes: Each person carries their own struggles, Cages and fences are sometimes built with the human mind, to overcome sadness you must deal with the pain
A Long Walk to Water keeps students actively making connections between characters and circumstances across time, examine what we're thankful for by living in the United States, and teaches them how authors can incorporate real details in a fiction story. Linda Sue Park does just that in this book based on the real life of the main character, Salva. She couples this with a fictionalized character in present day Sudan, Nya, who walks half a day to and back from a watering hole to get just a little bit of water for her family.
Reading Minilessons: Point of View, analyzing point of view, using accurate details from real life in a work of fiction, Prediction, Making Connections (character to character, text to world)
Themes: Never give up, Give back, Everything comes full circle
Out of My Mind forces students to take a deep look at how they treat others and how that might make others feel. For middle school students, this perspective is needed. I saw this book build community and an understanding between my 8th grade students immediately while it was being read and after. The main character, Melody has cerebral palsy and is unable to walk, talk, or communicate. However, she is a total smarty with a photographic memory, but nobody knows it.
Reading Minilessons: Point of View, Character Development, Inference, Making Connections
Themes: Don't make assumptions about people you don't know, give everyone a chance, words can leave scars
On my YouTube channel, I also talked about these books. If you'd like to see me discussing these books, feel free to jump over there and watch with this link.
Happy back-to-school planning to all of the amazing teachers out there!