I've already talked about on this blog how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE read aloud. Our schedules next year look like they're going to be even tighter and more rigorous (no, thank YOU Common Core!), but consider this my pledge that I will SOMEHOW still work in time for a daily read aloud. I wanted to share the books I read aloud to my class this year--they were all huge hits.
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar
Goodreads Summary: There was a terrible mistake - Wayside School was built with one classroom on top of another, thirty stories high (The builder said he was sorry.) Maybe that's why all kinds of funny things happened at Wayside-especially on the thirteenth floor.
My thoughts: This is a classic, and it has always been a favorite beginning-of-the-year read aloud for me. It's a great hook to get the kids to buy into read aloud--even my too cool for school 5th graders loved sitting and giggling to this book in past years! 4/5 stars
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Goodreads Summary: August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?
My thoughts: I have already sung my praises about this book here, so I won't go into it again, but this book was a huge hit with my 3rd + 4th graders. They got so much out of it, too--we had beautiful talks about kindness and courage throughout. Loved! 5/5 stars
Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
Goodreads Summary: It’s the start of fifth grade for seven kids at Snow Hill School. There’s . . .Jessica, the new girl, smart and perceptive, who’s having a hard time fitting in; Alexia, a bully, your friend one second, your enemy the next;Peter, class prankster and troublemaker; Luke, the brain; Danielle,who never stands up for herself; shy Anna, whose home situation makes her an outcast; and Jeffrey, who hates school. Only Mr. Terupt, their new and energetic teacher, seems to know how to deal with them all. He makes the classroom a fun place, even if he doesn’t let them get away with much . . . until the snowy winter day when an accident changes everything—and everyone.
My thoughts: Again, I also talked about this book here, but I want to say again what a fun read aloud it was. Initially I was worried that the kids wouldn't be able to follow the story because it jumps between seven narrators, but we made a chart of each students na dsome character traits to describe him or her at the beginning, and they caught on quickly. Another powerful book that fueled discussions on kindness, laying blame, and forgiveness. 5/5 stars
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Goodreads Summary: Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all. Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line. Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.
My thoughts: If you haven't read this book yet, read it asap. It is so beautiful. My kiddos didn't buy into this one as quickly as Wonder and Mr. Terupt, which I think is because it wasn't as funny. Even so, after a few chapters they were in love with Ivan and Ruby and Stella, hanging on every word. Another powerful book that led to great conversations about respect for living creatures and ethics.
Lawn Boy by Gary Paulsen
Goodreads Summary: One day I was 12 years old and broke. Then Grandma gave me Grandpa's old riding lawnmower. I set out to mow some lawns. More people wanted me to mow their lawns. And more and more. . . . One client was Arnold the stockbroker, who offered to teach me about "the beauty of capitalism. Supply and Demand. Diversify labor. Distribute the wealth." "Wealth?" I said. "It's groovy, man," said Arnold. If I'd known what was coming, I might have climbed on my mower and putted all the way home to hide in my room. But the lawn business grew and grew. So did my profits, which Arnold invested in many things. And one of them was Joey Pow the prizefighter. That's when my 12th summer got really interesting.
My thoughts: This book was totally different than our previous few read alouds, but it was so much fun! At first, my kids had a tough time following it because there is a lot of talk about investments and capitalism and stocks, but I broke it down pretty simply. When Joey Pow the boxer shows up, the book gets just plain hilarious. We loved it! 4/5 stars
How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor
Goodreads Summary: "Half of me was thinking, Georgina, don’t do this. Stealing a dog is just plain wrong. The other half of me was thinking, Georgina, you’re in a bad fix and you got to do whatever it takes to get yourself out of it."
Georgina Hayes is desperate. Ever since her father left and they were evicted from their apartment, her family has been living in their car. With her mama juggling two jobs and trying to make enough money to find a place to live, Georgina is stuck looking after her younger brother, Toby. And she has her heart set on improving their situation. When Georgina spots a missing-dog poster with a reward of five hundred dollars, the solution to all her problems suddenly seems within reach. All she has to do is “borrow” the right dog and its owners are sure to offer a reward. What happens next is the last thing she expected. With unmistakable sympathy, Barbara O’Connor tells the story of a young girl struggling to see what’s right when everything else seems wrong.
My thoughts: This was a serious one; Georgina's situation is just plain heart breaking. It was kind of an eye-opener to some of my studnets to think about how some families actually do have to live in their cars and deal with very tough times. Our big focus during this book was evaluating the characters' actions. We used lots of turn and talks and voting to share opinions and make judgments about the characters. I loved the higher-order-thinking it inspired--the kids had to share their opinion and justify it with text evidence. In discussions, I had them use sentence frames to respond to each others' evaluations of the characters. It was a really sweet book that deals with some tough issues in a great way. 4/5 stars.
What books did you read aloud this school year? We are cruising through Lawn Boy Returns right now, and I'm hoping to finish it by our last day, Friday!
And now, off to *hopefully* watch the Blackhawks win!