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September 29, 2014

Companion Text for Classics: If You Like That . . . Read This

By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    We all have our go-to books. At the beginning of the year you may always reach for The Kissing Hand to ease nervous students into the first days of school. September is a good time to read The Rainbow Fish because you need to reintroduce (or introduce) the idea of sharing to help build your classroom community. Maybe in January you bring out your copy of The Mitten for its winter theme.

    Many students may have heard those classics a thousand times by the time they get to you, so I have uncovered some new books that work perfectly with the classics to hook all of your students.

    Of course, any time that you are comparing text, using a graphic organizer like this Venn diagram provides a great visual for students to see the similarities and the differences.

    The Rainbow Fish CoverThe Classic

    The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

    The beautiful Rainbow Fish learns to share his fantastic colored scales with the other fish. The illustrations are bright and colorful. It is a wonderful book to reinforce good sharing habits.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Hooray for Hat! CoverThe New Companion

    Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

    I love this book because it is a great sharing story written by a truly unique author. The character of Elephant is grumpy until he is given a hat. He pays it forward by sharing the hat with his other grumpy jungle friends and turns their moods around too.

     

    Suggestion for companion text:

    After reading both books ask the students how these two books are similar. Sometimes letting a question sit in the classroom can be difficult, but becoming comfortable with silence allows everyone a second to think. A fun thing to do is to set a timer and say that when you finish the question you will set the timer for one minute and everyone has to just think for that one minute before anyone can give an answer. This gives those students who process information slower a fair shot at contributing to the group conversation. Make sure to call on those students who struggle with processing first because they may have only come up with one answer where other students were able to come up with several.

    The Mitten Cover

    The Classic

    The Mitten and The Umbrella by Jan Brett

    Different sets of animals find shelter in a mitten and an umbrella, respectively. Both of these are great stories for introducing drama lessons to your students.

     

     

    Pardon Me CoverThe New Companion

    Pardon Me by Daniel Miyares

    I was at our local bookstore with some friends this summer and asked Addie, a rising second grader, read this book. When she got to the end, she laughed out loud. I can’t image that Mr. Miyares could get much higher praise. The yellow bird's voice is a true joy to have in the classroom because he is so disturbed that he has to share. I love how the phrase “pardon me” is used in different ways in the book, which directly relates to the Language strand (vocabulary, acquisition, and use) of the Common Core State Standards.

    Suggestion for companion text:

    I have long used an igloo tent and have my students act out the story from The Mitten. I print the animal masks from Jan Brett’s fantastic website and have each student put one on. Then the students use the tent like it’s the mitten. As I'm reading the story, they each crawl into the tent when their character crawls into the mitten. This works towards having the students gain a better understanding of sequencing events in a story. I can't wait to have my class act out The Mitten one day and Pardon Me the next. It's a great way to bring drama (the good kind) into the classroom.

     

    The Kissing Hand CoverThe Classic

    The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

    Using this book the first day of school has become a back-to-school tradition across the country. Audrey Penn created a character that has spawned multiple sequels and the means to help ease the nerves of the first day of school for both kids and parents.

     

     

     

     

     

    The Invisible String CoverThe New Companion

    The Invisible String by Patrice Karst

    We are all connected by the invisible string whether we are separated because of kindergarten or feeling disconnected through grief. This is a beautiful and poignant story that deserves to become a classic for anyone who is suffering separation anxiety.

    You may have already read The Kissing Hand this year but if you still have students struggling with coming to school in the morning, reading The Invisible String will help reinforce the idea that the child is always loved no matter whether their parents are near or far.  I would also recommend the book if you have a child who suffers a loss during the school year.

     

    The Giving Tree Cover

     

    The Classic

    The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

    Earth Day can have no better mascot than the giving tree. He gives and asks nothing in return from the central character. My class discussions about this book have centered around friendship, heroes/villains, nature, and love.

     

     

     

     

    Our Tree Named Steve CoverThe New Companion

    Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel

    There is no question of the love that is felt between the family in this book and Steve. It has taken me several years to get through the end of this book as strongly as I start it because it is such a special book with a very emotional ending. Steve is a member of the family and his gifts aren’t taken for granted.

    Suggestion for companion text:

    I know there are specific books for Earth Day out there and I have a few favorites, but these two books really bring home how we benefit from nature and why it’s important that we acknowledge and respect our relationship with nature.

     

    In The Night Kitchen Cover

    The Classic

    In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak 

    Due to the fact that the central character, Micky, appears in the altogether in a few of these illustrations, this book is often kept out of classrooms. It is a wonderfully imaginative story and many children will be familiar with it from home even if it doesn't have a place in your classroom library.

     

     

     

     

     

    Nighttime Ninja CoverThe New Companion

    Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta

    There is not a child in your room who won’t be on the edge of their seat as the nighttime ninja attempts to complete his mission. And there is not an adult in the room who won’t let out a little chuckle at the conclusion.

    Suggestion for companion text:

    Comparing these two books would be an awesome activity for any beginning reader, but since many classrooms don't use In the Night Kitchen, using Nighttime Ninja in your classroom is a great opportunity to talk about suspense and twist endings. Use this prediction sheet to see what each child thinks will happen and then, as a class, check their predictions against the actual ending. This is a great lesson because it can very hard for some students to admit that what they predicted was wrong. I always reiterate that whatever ending they came up with is a unique one even if it is not what the author actually wrote.

    Reading the classic and the new companion books together will give your class, no matter the grade level, the opportunity to dig for how these books relate to not only each other but also how they relate to the world around them.

    Let's connect on Twitter and Pinterest.

    I can't wait to see you next week.

    We all have our go-to books. At the beginning of the year you may always reach for The Kissing Hand to ease nervous students into the first days of school. September is a good time to read The Rainbow Fish because you need to reintroduce (or introduce) the idea of sharing to help build your classroom community. Maybe in January you bring out your copy of The Mitten for its winter theme.

    Many students may have heard those classics a thousand times by the time they get to you, so I have uncovered some new books that work perfectly with the classics to hook all of your students.

    Of course, any time that you are comparing text, using a graphic organizer like this Venn diagram provides a great visual for students to see the similarities and the differences.

    The Rainbow Fish CoverThe Classic

    The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

    The beautiful Rainbow Fish learns to share his fantastic colored scales with the other fish. The illustrations are bright and colorful. It is a wonderful book to reinforce good sharing habits.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Hooray for Hat! CoverThe New Companion

    Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

    I love this book because it is a great sharing story written by a truly unique author. The character of Elephant is grumpy until he is given a hat. He pays it forward by sharing the hat with his other grumpy jungle friends and turns their moods around too.

     

    Suggestion for companion text:

    After reading both books ask the students how these two books are similar. Sometimes letting a question sit in the classroom can be difficult, but becoming comfortable with silence allows everyone a second to think. A fun thing to do is to set a timer and say that when you finish the question you will set the timer for one minute and everyone has to just think for that one minute before anyone can give an answer. This gives those students who process information slower a fair shot at contributing to the group conversation. Make sure to call on those students who struggle with processing first because they may have only come up with one answer where other students were able to come up with several.

    The Mitten Cover

    The Classic

    The Mitten and The Umbrella by Jan Brett

    Different sets of animals find shelter in a mitten and an umbrella, respectively. Both of these are great stories for introducing drama lessons to your students.

     

     

    Pardon Me CoverThe New Companion

    Pardon Me by Daniel Miyares

    I was at our local bookstore with some friends this summer and asked Addie, a rising second grader, read this book. When she got to the end, she laughed out loud. I can’t image that Mr. Miyares could get much higher praise. The yellow bird's voice is a true joy to have in the classroom because he is so disturbed that he has to share. I love how the phrase “pardon me” is used in different ways in the book, which directly relates to the Language strand (vocabulary, acquisition, and use) of the Common Core State Standards.

    Suggestion for companion text:

    I have long used an igloo tent and have my students act out the story from The Mitten. I print the animal masks from Jan Brett’s fantastic website and have each student put one on. Then the students use the tent like it’s the mitten. As I'm reading the story, they each crawl into the tent when their character crawls into the mitten. This works towards having the students gain a better understanding of sequencing events in a story. I can't wait to have my class act out The Mitten one day and Pardon Me the next. It's a great way to bring drama (the good kind) into the classroom.

     

    The Kissing Hand CoverThe Classic

    The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

    Using this book the first day of school has become a back-to-school tradition across the country. Audrey Penn created a character that has spawned multiple sequels and the means to help ease the nerves of the first day of school for both kids and parents.

     

     

     

     

     

    The Invisible String CoverThe New Companion

    The Invisible String by Patrice Karst

    We are all connected by the invisible string whether we are separated because of kindergarten or feeling disconnected through grief. This is a beautiful and poignant story that deserves to become a classic for anyone who is suffering separation anxiety.

    You may have already read The Kissing Hand this year but if you still have students struggling with coming to school in the morning, reading The Invisible String will help reinforce the idea that the child is always loved no matter whether their parents are near or far.  I would also recommend the book if you have a child who suffers a loss during the school year.

     

    The Giving Tree Cover

     

    The Classic

    The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

    Earth Day can have no better mascot than the giving tree. He gives and asks nothing in return from the central character. My class discussions about this book have centered around friendship, heroes/villains, nature, and love.

     

     

     

     

    Our Tree Named Steve CoverThe New Companion

    Our Tree Named Steve by Alan Zweibel

    There is no question of the love that is felt between the family in this book and Steve. It has taken me several years to get through the end of this book as strongly as I start it because it is such a special book with a very emotional ending. Steve is a member of the family and his gifts aren’t taken for granted.

    Suggestion for companion text:

    I know there are specific books for Earth Day out there and I have a few favorites, but these two books really bring home how we benefit from nature and why it’s important that we acknowledge and respect our relationship with nature.

     

    In The Night Kitchen Cover

    The Classic

    In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak 

    Due to the fact that the central character, Micky, appears in the altogether in a few of these illustrations, this book is often kept out of classrooms. It is a wonderfully imaginative story and many children will be familiar with it from home even if it doesn't have a place in your classroom library.

     

     

     

     

     

    Nighttime Ninja CoverThe New Companion

    Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta

    There is not a child in your room who won’t be on the edge of their seat as the nighttime ninja attempts to complete his mission. And there is not an adult in the room who won’t let out a little chuckle at the conclusion.

    Suggestion for companion text:

    Comparing these two books would be an awesome activity for any beginning reader, but since many classrooms don't use In the Night Kitchen, using Nighttime Ninja in your classroom is a great opportunity to talk about suspense and twist endings. Use this prediction sheet to see what each child thinks will happen and then, as a class, check their predictions against the actual ending. This is a great lesson because it can very hard for some students to admit that what they predicted was wrong. I always reiterate that whatever ending they came up with is a unique one even if it is not what the author actually wrote.

    Reading the classic and the new companion books together will give your class, no matter the grade level, the opportunity to dig for how these books relate to not only each other but also how they relate to the world around them.

    Let's connect on Twitter and Pinterest.

    I can't wait to see you next week.

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