Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Characters: our read alouds from October

Our monthly reading theme for October was Characters, and we spent much of the month analyzing the character of Edward Tulane as part of the Global Read Aloud. In addition to Edward, here are some of the other books and characters were shared this month. (You can check out our Read Alouds from September on the theme of Community and Culture here.)

Africa Connections: folktales and biographies


We shared both Anansi and the Magic Stick and Anansi and the Talking Melon this month. Anansi is a great character to discuss, because while he is often tricky, he sometimes finds himself at the center of his own tricks! You can read more about Anansi in posts earlier this week: Anansi, part 1 and Anansi, part 2.

Seeds of Change by Jen Cullerton Johnson and illustrated by Sonia Lynn Sadler. This is now the fourth picture book biography of Wangari Maathai that I have read, and I think it might be my new favorite. I love the bright colors of the illustrations here and the emphasis on telling her life's story. (You can read more about the other biographies in the post Biographies about People and Trees.)

Happy Birthday, Jamela! by Niki Daly. I always check out a large collection of books by Niki Daly during our Africa unit, including both his wonderful folktales and his series of Jamela books. Jamela is a spunky character who makes creative but impulsive decisions, sometimes with disastrous consequences, but they always work out in the end. She is a very relate-able character for my third graders, and I love sharing stories with them about other parts of the world. (Jamela lives in South Africa like Niki Daly.)

Talk, Talk: an Ashanti legend retold by Deborah M. Newton Chocolate. I use this story to talk about plot and story structure, as it has a very clear problem and several distinct events. Students love the growing confusion as more and more unlikely things start talking!

Children Just Like Me series by Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley. I use this series throughout the year, highlighting different children from the continents that we study. You can read more about this book and the others in the post Around the World in a Single Book.

2014 Books

The Troublemaker by Lauren Castillo. I shared this book partially to draw connections between our study of Edward Tulane and partially to gauge student reaction. The kids loved the book and enjoyed keeping an eye on that sneaky raccoon.

A New Book for Us

The Girl who Swam to Euskadi by Mark Kurlansky is a folktale about the Basque region of Spain (also known as Euskadi). We received this wonderful bilingual book as a gift from our partner school in Spain as part of the Global Read Aloud #GRAEdward. In the story, a young girl swims from Massachusetts to Euskadi but when she returns the scholars do not believe that the place exists. This book spurred a lot of great conversation among my students, and we are corresponding with our partners in Spain to get their questions answered.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday Challenge is hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and is a weekly roundup of educator blogs that are sharing nonfiction picture books. Click the link to check out other nonfiction posts.


  1. Somewhere I've seen that The Girl who Swam to Euskadi before, & it sounds fascinating, Katie. Thanks for the ideas for teaching different parts of fiction. I love the Just Like Me book-so wonderful to look and look.

    1. Thanks, Linda! It has been quite fun discussing Euskadi, as our partner class in Spain has sent us several links to videos of traditional songs and dances, which my student love learning about.

  2. You always come up with the greatest book list! :) Thanks for sharing so many new-to-me picturebooks! :)


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