Friday, July 24, 2015

What I'm Reading Aloud to My Fifth-Graders (and Where I Want Their Thinking to Go.)

It's time to, once again, map out this year's fifth grade reading. I center my units on ideas found in high-interest, challenging read-alouds and the Core skills that go with them. Keep in mind that when I do my read-alouds, every kid has a copy, because we'll do work with that text before I turn them loose on their own book club books. As I'm, you know, a stinkin' teacher, I'm not a rich woman. So, unless Scholastic has a bangin' $1 deal, which does happen from time to time, I need to keep the book sets I've been using. As I move from a regular classroom to one for gifted kids, though, I'll need to ratchet up the complexity and depth of the questions I ask in order to get the results I want. Not a huge deal; I've taught middle school English before, so I know where to go.The books on this list would serve well in a fifth or a sixth grade classroom.

One of the things I've re-thought since reading Readicide (A group of bloggy-friends and I did an amazing blog hop on it this summer! Check it out through my word cloud to this post's right.) is to begin with the end in mind. Decide before planning the daily instruction what you want kids to get from a book and use it to create your guiding question.

So - here we go. This year's read aloud list with (most of) their guiding questions. They're in the order I think I'll be doing them, but that may change. We'll see. For each book, if you click the cover, you can find it on Amazon.

BTW - it is assumed all answers will be supported with evidence from the text, and I'll find different ways of presenting the kids' ideas about these questions.
1. Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
    How does the author use Bear as an agent of change for Crispin, but also uses Crispin as an agent of change for Bear?
2. The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
   "Needing a lift" appears throughout the book as an Again and Again. Why? For which character is this most important?
Note: If you don't know what an 'again and again' is, check out a book called Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kyleen Beers and Robert Probst. When I looked the authors up, I found they've done a nonfiction one, too, to be released in October. I pre-ordered that bad boy without a bit of hesitation.

3. Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick
    What was the author's purpose in presenting us with such completely different protagonists?
4. Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
    Of the many disrupted cycles in the story, from which can we learn the most?

5. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
   I didn't pick this one; it's a requirement in our AIG program and part of a William and Mary unit. Frankly, it'd make an excellent third-grade read aloud, but it's so much less complex than the stories we'll have already read, that I'm not enthused. That, and I'd like to b#$% slap most of the characters. I'll have to work on changing my attitude toward it.
6. Bomb:  The Race to Build - and steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
    Why did the author decide to write this as a piece of narrative fiction, rather than an all-about?
7. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
    How does the symbol of the fireplace behind the wall relate to the story's other strands?
8. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
   How can sharecropping, a cycle, be both dysfunctional and productive? What legacy has it left?
and, finally,
9. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
    Redemption is a repeated theme in the story. Did The Game allow Sam Westing to redeem himself?

That's my lineup for this year...which too-good-to-pass-up reads did I leave out? Let us know!
Remember to Pin this list for later!


  1. Wow you have some fab books to read this year!

    Teaching Autism

  2. LOVE your post! LOVE so many of these books! When I was a 5th grader, my teacher read to our class The Westing Game. Since then, I've read it time and time again aloud to my 4th and 5th graders!! Love, love! :)

    1. It took me a couple of readings before I finally, really 'got' it! ;)

  3. I think it's funny that we're only a grade away but we chose completely different books! How great!


  4. Great list of books. Some are new to me- I can't wait to use them this year. Thanks!