This past week we have been working on thinking about and beyond the text. We are working on higher level thinking skills that involve more than simply going right back to the text to parrot back an answer, including inferring, synthesizing and critiquing. Text choice is so important when planning these lessons. You want to choose a book that has a good meaty story that most kids will identify with. At the same time, you want to choose a book that lends itself to the particular strategy you are focusing on. You have to choose a book that you personally enjoy also and can read with some emotion and thought.
These are three books that we really enjoyed this week and sparked some deep thinking. For each of these titles I had the children stop and jot their predictions or thoughts during the story in their reader's notebooks and use their writing as a basis for a longer entry when we finished the book.
- The Memory Coat - A family emigrates from Russia to the United States but one member of the family may not make it. This particular book is long and we split the read aloud over two days. The kids were so upset at the end of day 1 because we would have to "tune in tomorrow" to find out what happens! This one sparked a good discussion about the main characters and inferring how they would have acted if a certain event happened.
- The Memory Box - A young man goes on vacation with his grandparents to find out that Grandpa has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Together they must make a "memory box" to store important memories. This one is excellent for predicting and inferring! Many of the kids inferred that Grandpa was losing his hearing or his eyesight before the true cause was revealed.
- The Memory String - In this story a young girl begins to accept her stepmother. What a moving story! Again this is a long one so you may want to split it between days. This title led to some good text connections - all the books we read had something to do with memories, all the books had some tangible item to store memories, and all were really about the importance of family and loving another.