After students have a firm footing in decoding, fluency, and comprehension strategies (usually around the Fountas and Pinnell Level O), Literature Circles turn the teaching and thinking over to them. With weekly roles (Discussion Director, Super Summarizer, Passage Picker, etc.), third and fourth graders tackle texts that require inferential thinking and perseverance. I supervise and guide as needed, but they're running 'the show' =).
These are some of the books your student(s) might read throughout the year in this stage of their literacy. If you have any questions or issues with the themes tackled in these texts, don't hesitate to contact me.
Bunnicula is written by Deborah and James Howe, and features a vampire rabbit that sucks the juice out of vegetables. The story is centered on the Monroe family
and their pets, and is told from the perspective of their dog Harold. It was published in 1979 and offers challenging phrasing and unfamiliar terms to students. Plus, its a mystery -
about a bunny! Cool!
Julie of the Wolves is written by Jean Craighead George, and is a staple in the canon of children’s literature. It is about an Eskimo girl lost on the Alaskan tundra, who has to come to terms with the changes forced upon her culture from outside influences when she returns to civilization. It features a survival theme similar to Hatchet or My Side of the Mountain, and is a great tie in to our science study of different ecosystems.
Little House on the Prairie is written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is based on her childhood in the northern Midwest during the 1870s and 1880s and focuses on
the triumphs and challenges of pioneer life. Fitting in well with our social studies unit on Westward Expansion, it offers a realistic account without too many literary devices.
Perfect for readers who are great decoders, but are still stretching those developing 'comprehension muscles'.
My Side of the Mountain is also written by Jean Craighead George. Sam Gribley is unhappy living in New York City, so he runs away to the Catskill Mountains to live in the woods—all by himself. With only a penknife, a ball of cord, forty dollars, and some flint and steel, he intends to survive on his own. A year in the wilderness changes his life forever, and I promise the prose and excitement of this tale will challenge and delight your student.
Shoeshine Girl is written by Clyde Robert Bulla, and sports a mild anti-hero most students are quick to dislike. Sarah Ida doesn't want to spend the summer with her Aunt Claudia, but when her parents send her away because of problems at home, that is exactly what she has to do. With no allowance and no fun to be had, Sarah Ida decides to look for a job. The character changes throughout the book, allowing readers to reflect on their conceptions of her. This is a great early chapter book.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is written by Mildred D. Taylor. It is a book about racism in America during the Great Depression. Throughout the novel, the reader learns about the importance of land and the effects of racism, at the same time as the narrator, Cassie Logan, learns 'the way things are'. It is a beautiful, heart-wrenching tale for discerning fourth graders.
Credit: Parts of these book blurbs came from Amazon.com