Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Community and Culture: our read alouds from September

Every month of the school year in third grade, we will have a different theme to consider and discuss in our read aloud books. Our first theme for the school year, during August and September, is that of Community and Culture.

We spent a lot of time this month talking about what it means to be a community, the characteristics of the communities that we read about, and how we can be a more caring and welcoming community. We also talked about the ideas behind culture and how communities are often made up of people from a wide variety of cultures.

While not every book we share together needs to conform tightly to our given theme, many do. Other books we read this month related to our Geography topic in Social Studies and our writing unit of personal narrative stories. You can read more about all of the individual titles from this month below.

Community and Culture

Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley. My favorite first day of school read focuses on the people and cultures in one small neighborhood, highlighting the commonalities in the rice-based meals being prepared.

One Green Apple by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Ted Lewin. Powerful story of a new girl's experience in her first days of school in her new country, America. Important lessons about acceptance and making others feel welcome. Read more in my summary for the Top 10 Picture Books to Read Aloud.

My Name is Sangoel by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed. This book touches on many of our themes through the year, including community, world-wide connections, and the importance of honoring cultures. Sangoel and his family have moved to the US from Sudan, and he is having trouble getting people to say his name correctly. (We always follow this one up by making our own name rebuses.)

Ish by Peter Reynolds. Ramon learns the freedom in seeing his art as "ish" instead of perfect. A great one for discussing how to be a welcoming and encouraging community.

This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. A great book about the power of being yourself - even if "yourself" is a moose who wants to be an astronaut ...

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi. When Unhei moves to the US from Korea, she is frustrated by everyone's inability to pronounce her name and decides she wants an Americanized name instead. Her class cooperates by offering their suggestions in a name jar on her desk.

Seed by Seed: the legend and legacy of John "Appleseed" Chapman by Esme Raji Codell and illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins. I always try to share this touching biography of Johnny Appleseed around his birthday of Sept. 26th. I love how the author draws out and focuses on five "life lessons" from his story and asks readers to apply them to their own lives.

My Librarian is a Camel: how books around brought to children around the world by Margriet Ruurs. This collection of unusual and amazing libraries showcases the innovative ways children get books around the world. Read a longer review in my article Around the World in a Single Book.

Geography Books

Mapping Penny's World by Loreen Leedy. Great book for introducing maps and basic geography concepts. Always have my student do the same assignment as the students in the book - creating their own map of a favorite place.

A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme by J. Patrick Lewis. This is a great collection of geography poems that we use in our geography unit. Read more about Teaching Geography with Poetry.

Writing Personal Narratives and Mentor Texts

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. Love, love, love this powerful Caldecott-winning picture book. We use it to talk about "small moment" stories and just listen in awe to Jane Yolen's gift for words and description.

Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon. This book is a great one for writing workshop, as it tells the relate-able story of Ralph, who simply cannot write a personal narrative, because nothing ever happens in his life.

It's been a busy month for read alouds! We are excited to be joining the Global Read Aloud next month with The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and beginning our new monthly theme of Characters and Point-of-View.


  1. This is great! It will help me in helping my son with his at-home reading. Thank you!

    Visiting from #GrowingCirclesHop today. =0)


    1. Thanks so much for checking it out and for commenting, Kim! This is a great collection of some of my favorites.


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