Back to School Reading Lesson
By Mary Montero
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As a teacher, the beginning of a new school year is an exciting and busy time. One of the most important things we can do with our students (apart from building a strong classroom community) at the start of the year is to lay a strong foundation for their reading skills. This not only helps students succeed academically, but also sets them up for a lifetime of literacy enjoyment and enrichment. Here is one of my favorite back to school reading lessons that you can use in your classroom to kick off the year right!
I found four books that complement each other perfectly, they each have beautiful themes that are perfect for the beginning of the year, and they lend themselves well to teaching important beginning of the year reading skills!
Teaching students to go beyond surface level comparisons can be a challenge, but these sweet school-themed books are the perfect tools for an introduction to comparing texts and characters – particularly how characters respond to challenges! Add them to your cart now so they’ll be ready for your back-to-school lessons. There are so many lessons – personal and academic – to be learned from each book! Here is a quick overview of how I used them. You can choose to use all four, or just two or three!
Linus The Little Yellow Pencil, Eraser, Perfect, and When Pencil Met Eraser (Amazon affiliate links) all feature the same pencil and eraser characters. They also have similar themes about learning to work together and seeing beauty in each others’ strengths.
Comparing Characters and Theme Back to School Reading Lesson
After reading each of the books for fun first, we took a deeper dive into each one by analyzing and comparing the characters. We also wrote the themes and lessons learned from each book and made a fun anchor chart. It took us about a week to get through, focusing on one book per day.
Some of the themes include:
- We can be different and still be wonderful.
- Working together can have the most unexpectedly beautiful results.
- It’s so important to value the skills and knowledge everyone brings to the table.
- Mistakes are fixable and make us great!
- There really is no such thing as perfect because “perfect” looks different for everyone.
Self Reflection Extension Activity
As we were finishing our lessons, Susie Rios shared a sweet extension idea that fit perfectly with the book Perfect and with our pencil/eraser theme. Each student chose a word that describes them, inspires them, or is special to them. Then, they used a pencil to completely shade in a piece of cardstock and used their eraser to reveal their word.
The students LOVED this activity, and their art looked so cute hanging in my room! It was a wonderful way to bring the stories to life and reiterate that everyone and everything serves a purpose and that you can come together to make something beautiful.
More Comparison Lessons
Comparing and contrasting texts, characters, themes, and more complex literary elements is key to reading comprehension, but it also takes higher level critical thinking skills. After your students have grasped the basics in these lessons, it’s time to take their skills to the next level. This paired passages post will help you directly teach comparing and contrasting to your upper elementary students.
Annotating is also an important part of learning to analyze texts at a deeper level. This comparing post will help you move beyond the basics and also includes a free annotation guide.
More Picture Book Lessons
You can also visit this picture book post for more of my favorite upper elementary titles. You’ll find the perfect books for your lessons all year!
Book recommendations are also popular topics of conversation in our Free Inspired In Upper Elementary Facebook group. Come join us for even more tips!
More Back to School Reading Lessons and Literacy Tips
Looking for more back to school literacy tips? Try these posts!
I’m so glad you are here. I’m a current gifted and talented teacher in a small town in Colorado, and I’ve been in education since 2009. My passion (other than my family and cookies) is for making teachers’ lives easier and classrooms more engaging.