I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
Read to 5th & 6th Grades (10 classes)
Targeted Skills: Making Inferences & Monitor Thinking
The school year started with my 5th & 6th graders getting first dibs on check out, and I made a point of addressing them as the "leaders" of our school and because of this, they were getting the privilege of checking out books first. They liked the feeling of seniority.
We started off the 45 minute chunk of time with this perfect book. It's a simple story, yet shockingly funny, and so much of the humor comes from the inferences that must be made. We stopped throughout the reading to "monitor our thinking"--make connections, ask questions, predict what would happen next, infer--all of those skills that strong readers do in their minds. After we finished the book and everyone had a good laugh, I pointed out that so much of the humor in this book would be lost if we had not stopped to infer. That's when I made the kids chant, "It's cool to be smart! It's cool to smart!" I strive to point out this fact to all of my students--especially the upper grades. Life is richer when we NOTICE small details around us and connect them to our prior experiences.
Higher-Level Questions Asked (These make sense after you read the book):
Why do you think the author changes the color of the text on the second page?
What can we infer about the rabbit from his response? What's your text evidence?
Why is the page red when the bear realizes where his hat is? How did you that red means anger? What does this tell us about the importance of our background knowledge?
So what happened to the rabbit? How do you know this?
The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man by Michael Chabon
Read to 4th Grade (6 classes)
Targeted Skills: Connect to Background Knowledge, Make Inferences, & Monitor Thinking
I chose this book for 4th grade because I know that some of the teachers read Perfect Man to them, so I wanted them to make that connection, and those who had heard the book did. The students made many connections to their background knowledge about super heroes that they have seen on TV or in the movies. We made inferences about Awesome Man's "secret identity" and then used text evidence to support those inferences at the end when his identity was revealed. I modeled my thinking as a reader by asking questions and noticing the similies that the writer uses. After we finished the book, the kids made the connection that Awesome Man was really a kid with an overactive imagination. I asked them how he got all of this background knowledge about super heroes, and they said because he probably read books about them. I asked them to turn-and-talk about this:
How is reading like a super power? Use evidence from your own life and the world around you to support your answer.
I encouraged the teachers to have the students write about this back in the classroom.
I Know a Librarian Who Chewed on a Word by Laurie Lazzaro Knowlton
Read to 2nd and 3rd Grades (10 classes)
Targeted Skills: Connect to Background Knowledge
I stumbled upon this book while shopping at Barnes and Noble this summer, and of course, I had to have it. I chose it for 2nd and 3rd grade because I wanted them to connect to their background knowledge of the song "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly." Of course, they did, and we discussed why the author used this familiar song as a pattern for her book. We discussed the word "absurd" and how we could use context clues to figure out what the word went if we did not have prior knowledge. We also made inferences about what the word that the librarian chewed because it is not revealed until the end. I made sure that the students had a chance to "turn-and-talk" about the book. I want to implement this more into my lessons this year. Because of the short amount of time that we have to do a lesson and checkout books, I feel like I am often rushing the kids into meaning. Turn-and-Talk gives ALL of them an opportunity to talk about the book, which is such an important part of reading.
Higher Level Questions Asked (These make sense after you read the book):
What do you notice about the illustrations of the girl who wants to know the word? How do they change throughout the story?
Why would a librarian swallow the word "READ?"
We're Going on a Book Hunt by Pat Miller
Read to 1st Grade and Kindergarten (10 classes)
Target Skills: Library Procedures, Book Care, Choosing a "Just Right" Book
This was a fun, easy way to introduce the little ones to the way our library works. I had to change a few things and skip a few pages (we don't use shelf markers) in order to make it relevant to our library. For the 1st Graders, this was a quick review, and they enjoyed the singing and motions. My Kindergarteners caught on quickly and checked out books with ease on their first visit to the library!