I absolutely love this engaging ‘trend’ in picture books. They are perfect for older readers who love to ask…”Did that really happen?” The author’s note at the end of true story books is a great discussion starter, and often provides real photos of the event depicted in the picture book. I always enjoy having readers identify the central message and theme during these true stories. Providing some background knowledge prior to the read-aloud can facilitate deeper discussions and encourage them to read and check out more nonfiction books on these topics. Showing video clips or online photos is always a sure-fire way to pique reader’s interests even more!
Common themes we like to discuss and ‘sort’ our true stories in are…Courage, Perseverance, Honesty, Kindness, Power, Overcoming obstacles, Friendship, and Bravery (many stories are often a mix of all of these, and readers LOVE choosing/debating which one they believe is the best ‘fit’ and why!)
One of my all time favorite types of literature to share with students are the engaging, thought-provoking “Pourquoi Tales”. Pourquoi tales are stories from long ago that explain the mysteries of the universe in quirky, funny, and sometimes shocking ways. There is a lot of discussion around ‘theme’ and ‘character traits’ in this unit, along with friendly debates on whether the tale centers around a universe, nature, or animal mystery. (IE: How the zebra got it’s stripes can also weave in a conversation about other animals evolving or nature not being utilized in the same way it is now). I like to highlight certain vocabulary words from these tales each week to enrich their listening experience as well. The BEST follow up to this special literature is children writing their OWN tales, of course.
Author’s and/ or Illustrator’s Spotlight
David Weisner (favorite), Chris Van Allsburg (favorite), Emily Arnold McCully (super favorite), Giselle Potter, Jane Yolen, David Ezra Stein, Shel Silverstein, Steve Jenkins, Gail Gibbons, Jacqueline Woodson, Kadir Nelson (favorite) and so many more.
Around the World
Stories with a Twist
Travel with Traditional Literature
Fractured Fairy Tales
This literature focus explores the power of EMPATHY, POSITIVITY, KINDNESS, and BRAVERY in characters and how it changes lives. I create posters of the above character traits and then ‘debate’ which fits best for the literature. Students can reflect on their OWN ‘inner powers’ through their own backgrounds and life experiences…which naturally produces thoughtful discussions. I really love to let them share how they interpret the story and I validate their feelings…any thoughts on literature are our OWN innermost reactions, and they are all valid, important, and authentic…one of the best parts of being with our younger readers…no filter!!
My top ten favorite books about kindness….for all ages. There are so many I wanted to share, but these ones in particular tug at my heartstrings. And they also exemplify and portray a sense of innocence in the characters which makes them feel more relatable to our young readers. (PS- I think there are 13…and I will probably edit this post three more times thinking of 100 books I forgot to mention….seriously. Authors have such good hearts…)