Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Favorite Chapter Read-Alouds

I know what you are thinking--but she teaches Kindergarten?!? My favorite part of the day is our chapter read-aloud. I think reading above the students' grade level forces them to listen very carefully-no pictures to rely on. I think it is a great springboard to introduce new vocabulary. I also think they can really go into the depth of a character. With a picture book-it's over in 10 minutes and we can discuss it and do an activity. But with a chapter book-it's an on-going view of that character-we really get to know them and get invested in how it will end. When we finish a story sometimes the kiddos will remark fondly months down the line "I miss Edward" - it's like they got to know them as a friend.

Some of my faves:

1) The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane- this is a very deep book. It's about an elitist stuffed rabbit who goes through a number of events to make him someone who learns to love others. You can do activities with multiple perspectives (each owner thought differently about him-he was like their child, a friend, a caretaker, etc). Definitely a lot of Big Ideas. You will have to give them some guidance in "getting" it, but my kids are always begging me to read another chapter of this book.

2) Toys Go Out (and also the sequel Toy Dance Party). -the kids love these books and even though it's about stuffed animals and what they do when you are not there, the issues they deal with are pretty challenging. Lots of great character study-who are you most like, what toy would you be?

3) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz-lends itself to many activities as well. How the characters change over time? You can even show the movie and compare to the book (did you know her slippers in the are silver, not ruby). Lots of examples of ethics as well-especially when we discover who Oz really is.

4) Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper-I've posted about this little gem before, I discovered it in the books I was reading for my student book club this year. It's told from the perspective of a little girl with cerebral palsy. Again very deep and what I really like about it is there isn't really a happy ending. What they do to her makes you furious for her. Now my kids always ask me "does this one have a happy ending?".

5) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-the book again is very different from the movie they've seen. Lots of great characters to study and also great examples of ethics.

6) Charlotte's Web - another classic, right? After you skip the part about how Wilbur is meant to be bacon...(that commercial for My Baby Can Read where the toddler is reading that part about the ax disturbs me a bit). Again, not exactly a happy ending. The kids can learn about personification and apply that to create their own character who might also live in that barn.

7) James and the Giant Peach-great example of where your imagination can take you as an author and as a reader. Lots of great characters and problem-solving tasks.

(I hate doing papier mache in the classroom, but I thought these turned out so cool -that's James inside the peach.

8) Pippi Longstocking- who wouldn't love a little redhead who lives with a horse and monkey!

9) The World According to Humphrey-told from the perspective of a class hamster. Nothing like thinking about life from the eyes of a critter a few inches tall. He doesn't understand the concept of fire drills or tests (me either, some days! :). Lends itself to activities/discussions about life from an animal's perspective.

10) Loser - I know, I know the title will scare you away. Loser is a story about a boy who I have taught in class many times (I wish more teachers would read this book, it's about teaching too). Zinkoff is odd. He stands at attention and says "yes ma'am" when the teacher asks him a question. He laughs at words like Jabip that just strike him funny. But he is the most easygoing, positive child you will ever meet. Some teachers got him and some didn't, same with the kids. But definitely an interesting character study.
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  1. If you have not read Ms. Trayers' recommendation "The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane" it is a wonderful book to share with kiddos.

  2. First of all, I can't imagine anyone thinking kindergarten is too early to listen to a chapter book. I think most children can listen to them way before that age. I've had great success reading chapter books to my own children starting around the age of two.

    Next, I adore the Toys Go Out books. Did you know the third in the series is available? It's called Toys Come Home and it's the prequel to the other two stories. It answers a lot of the questions my own children had.

    Lastly, I love that papier mache peach with James inside! Creative!

  3. I teach 4 year old kindergarten, and every year I read My Father's Dragon, Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland. This trilogy is a wonderful set of stories with action and adventure, mystery and just plain old fun. I highly recommend these for younger students.
    I have often also read Mr. Popper's Penguins, Charlotte's Web and Rip Roarin' Russell.

  4. Hey Brandy-yes, some people frown upon it-why do you want to fill their head with so much so early, etc.... I did not know there was a 3rd in the Toys series-will definitely check that out! :) Thanks so much for commmenting!

  5. Sue-I will put those books on my list to try out next year. I have never read Mr. Popper's Penguins myself-but love to introduce them to a book when all they know is that it's a movie. Thank you for your suggestions!

  6. Also 2nd the recommendation for "My Father's Dragon", "Elmer and the Dragon" and "The Dragons of Blueland" by Ruth Stiles Gannett.

    "Mr. Popper's Penguins" is good as well. Another suggestion is Roald Dahl especially "Fantastic Mr. Fox", "The Magic Finger", "James and the Giant Peach", "The Enormous Crocodile", and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory".

    When my son was 4 I read Judy Blume's "Tales of Fourth Grade Nothing" and "Superfudge" to him along with Beverly Cleary's "Ralph S. Mouse" and Deborah & James Howe's "Bunnicula".

    Many of these he is reading again on his own in 1st grade.

    I've looked for the Toy series cannot find either in school media center or local library:(