Teachers for Teachers | Mentor Teaching Moves: Choosing the Right Book to Kick Off Your Year! #T4TMoment #itsallaboutthebooks
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Mentor Teaching Moves: Choosing the Right Book to Kick Off Your Year! #T4TMoment #itsallaboutthebooks

Choosing “just the right” read aloud for the first weeks of school can be tricky.  We want books that engage students, make them laugh, and help them think about how they can be a contributing member of a passionate and inclusive classroom community.  So many questions come to mind as we select the books we will read aloud to launch our year:

  • Which books will excite and engage students?
  • Which books will help develop a positive classroom community?
  • Which books will make children feel at home in their new classroom and will encourage them to open up and share themselves with others?
  • Which characters will resonate with students?
  • Which books can we revisit during writing workshop to study the craft and structure?

Here are three new pictures books in our social comprehension book basket we are excited to read aloud this September.  These books are good jumping off points to help students learn about one another,  to give students words they can use when sensitive topics or social issues arise, and a concrete way to begin conversations about how to be a supportive and caring community:

words and your heart, Kate Jane Neal

This debut picture book by Kate Jane Neal was published in 2015, but it is new to us.   Kate Jane Neal uniquely describes our heart, “the little bit inside of you that makes you, you!” to make readers think about the big message in this text.  We love how the text speaks directly to the reader in a nonjudgmental way.  What a great book to get kids talking about how to treat each other.

This is a mentor text to bring out again when you teach writing crafts.  Students can study Kate Jane Neal’s writing to see how to use thoughtful word choice, repetition, and font size to bring out the meaning in their texts.

The Rabbit Listened, Cori Doerrfeld

This simple story has a profound message that will resonate with kids and teachers.  When the main character’s block tower is destroyed, many characters give advice, but only one character really listens.  We love how Cori Doerrfeld shares that she wrote this book after several friends went through hard times.  Although the illustrations are geared more for K-2 readers, we will share this book in K-5 classrooms.  The message about how to help someone when they’re struggling is timeless and will be important for students to remember when stressful situations arise.  Sometimes being present, truly present, is what matters most and this book reminds us that less can be more.

Nimoshom and His Bus, Penny M. Thomas and Karen Hibbard

Penny M. Thomas introduces readers to the Cree language through a familiar and timeless story about a school bus.  Penny’s story of this kind bus driver is both universal and timeless so it allows her to also teach her reader about the Cree-Ojibway language.  Penny M. Thomas is of Cree-Ojibway background so it is important for readers to learn a bit about her and why she wants to introduce readers to this language.

“In the morning, nimoshon would greet the kids.  He would say “Tansi!”  Tansi means hello.”

 As we read this book, we will pause before we read the phrase, “…means  _________” so our youngest readers use the context to infer the meaning of the Cree word.  The plot will be so familiar to many students and the photographs so clear that readers will be able to infer the characters’ feelings.   This is also a fun book to talk about the bus ride to school and ways to get to know bus drivers, crossing guards, and other community members.  If you would like more background on this book, take a look at this review from the AICL – American Indians in Children’s Literature.

Looking for more books in this text set, click here to see our Pinterest Board of Books to Develop Social Comprehension Skills.




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