Today I wanted to spotlight some of my class favorite read alouds. I like my students to hear stories that engage their minds and emotions, make them laugh, or touch their heart. They will often refer to these stories and characters throughout the year as we make connections to other stories they read in class.
One of our beloved characters is Strega Nona created by Tomie dePaola. Each year, I launch our first author study about Tomie. While many of his books are autobiographical in nature, Strega Nona is pure fantasy and fun. Big Anthony is Strega Nona’s assistant who is known for not being a good listener. As a result, Big Anthony gets himself into trouble. This book is perfect for discussing character traits.
The perfect companion story is Pumpkin Fiesta by Caryn Yacowitz. This story has similar characters to Strega Nona so it lends itself easily to comparing and contrasting the main characters. Old Juana grows the best pumpkins in the land. She tends to her garden with love and care. Foolish Fernando desperately wants to win the local pumpkin contest. He hopes that by imitating Old Juana, he will succeed. Unfortunately, Foolish Fernando takes short cuts. Who will win at the Pumpkin Fiesta? What lessons does Foolish Fernando learn? This title is also part of the Harcourt Trophies 2nd grade anthology.
More Than Anything Else is the story of a young boy from the post Civil War era. He works all day along side his father and brother shoveling salt. However, he dreams of learning to read. If only someone could help him unlock the secret code, he is certain he can change his future. This story is perfect for applying the skill of making inferences.
Across the other side of the world, lives another boy who dreams escaping his life of poverty. In The Royal Bee, children from poor working class families aren’t allowed to attend school. However, Song Ho dreams of a life with more opportunities than his current status. Through determination, perseverance, and bravery, Song Ho wins over the heart of the school master. The boy and the teacher risk it all, for the chance to change Song Ho’s destiny forever. This true story will have your students rooting for the main character all the way to the end of the story.
This tender story touches the hearts of children of divorced parents. Charlie Anderson is an independent stray cat that comes and goes as he pleases. The girls don’t know how the cat spends his days, they just look forward to his return at night. Little do they realize that Charlie has the best of both worlds; two loving families. Listeners quickly connect with the characters and the plot. The surprise ending provides a great discussion.
A fun way to introduce the genre of mysteries is with Doreen Cronin’s The Trouble with Chickens. My students beg me to read the next chapter to find out what happens next. The story is told through the perspective of a retired search and rescue dog named J.J. The peaceful life on the farm turns into a dramatic mystery as some of the chicks go missing. J.J kicks into high gear determined to find and rescue the missing nuggets. With red herring clues and dead ends, your children will be hunting along with the canine hero. Best of all, the kids realize how much fun it is to read and solve mystery through books.
What are some of your favorite read alouds and why? Please share in the comment section below.