Teaching With Children’s Literature

Children’s Literature and Teaching–Trathen
You can download this information: Children’s_lit_teaching

Reading Levels

Be aware of the difficulty of children’s books and try to provide students with pleasant experiences with books. Avoid asking students to read books they cannot, that are above the students’ reading levels. You can use resources like scholastic to find the approximate reading level of the books. You will learn how to give meaningful, accurate, and easy to use reading assessments to get an estimate of students’ reading levels. You use both to match text to students’ reading levels.

Discussion of Books

Give students a chance to discuss the books they read, either formally as part of classroom instruction or informally by allowing them to share books they read with each other.

Literature Circle Roles:

1.     Discussion Director–develops questions group members will discuss about this portion of the book; decides important ideas and issues raised in this section of the book and designs questions that address them

2.     Passage Picker–selects significant passages from the sections being read; determines why important; calls other readers’ attention to passage and leads discussion about it

3.     Word Wizard–searches section of text for words that are key to understanding what is happening in the story; notes the page and sentence where found; checks the dictionary meaning of the word; leads a discussion about the meaning and intent of the word from context and what the word contributes to the import of the passage

4.     Character Sketcher–develops a character map of major characters in the text

5.     Internet Investigator–explores questions through Internet Workshop; investigates sites that are relevant to topics covered in the reading; teacher prepares sites and some questions ahead of time for students to explore

 6.    Summarizer–summarizes what has happened and major issues discussed to this point in the book

7.     Connector–thinks of ways personal experiences connect to events and themes appearing in the book; leads discussion of these issues

8.     Investigator--examines other sources (newspaper, web, encyclopedia, content texts, etc.) that have connections to the book being read; shares information with the group

9.     Artful Artist–develops a creative way to respond to the events and themes in the story

10.  Travel Tracer–creates and maintains a map of movement if the story involves travel (either physical or metaphorical)

11.  Activity Activator–involves group members in an activity that represents information learned and ideas experienced from reading the book

12.  Meaning Mapper–develop word map for selected words from the day’s reading: include a picture of the word; the sentence from the story containing the word; a definition; and the word used in a sentence

Responding in Writing to Books

There are many ways for students to respond to books. Always try to include in responses opportunities for students to reread, find passages and information, and back up (give evidence) for what they say about the books they read. It is easy, for example, to ask students to provide page numbers to support what they write.

Reading Response Notebook

Double Entry Diary

Vocabulary Notebook

Comparison Charts

Story Structure (Story Grammar)

Character Chart (Analysis of Character Traits)

Wanted Poster

Data Retrieval Chart

Sketch to Stretch

Poetic Responses

Persona (I am) Poems


Found Poems

Other Forms (Use Kick in the Head)

ABC Books

Making Books

Publishing to PowerPoint (and using Handout Print)
ladybugs (a published book from 2nd grade class)

Hot Dog Book (Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord

Language Arts Block

Guided Reading (whole class or small groups — 20 to 30 minutes)

Silent Reading (individual – student selected material — 20 to 30 minutes)

Read Aloud (teacher reads to class — 5 to 10 minutes)

Writing (shared and individual writing — at least 40 minutes)

Word Study (phonics, spelling, vocabulary — 10 to 15 minutes)


Instructional Framework

Examples (Mentor Texts)

Shared Writing (Writing With Students—Modeling)

Individual Student Writing

Writing Workshop

1. Mini-Lesson (5-15 minutes) A short lesson ocused on a single topic that students need help with or that the teacher needs to model. These do not have to occur each day; 2-3 times a week is usually just fine.

2. Status of the Class (2-5 minutes) A quick way to find out what each student is working on.

3. Writing Time (20-45 minutes or more!) Students write, or if doing a shared writing you write with them. If students are writing individually, then you can circulate and conference with individual students, pairs, or small groups.

4. Sharing (5-15 minutes) Writers read what they have written and seek feedback from their audience. The teacher can share her writing too.

Download this instructional article by Steve Peha

Writing Process


  • Decide on a topic to write about.
  • Consider who will read or listen to your written work.
  • Brainstorm ideas about the subject.
  • List places where you can research information.
  • Do your research.


  • Put the information you researched into your own words.
  • Write sentences and paragraphs even if they are not perfect.
  • Read what you have written and judge if it says what you mean.
  • Show it to others and ask for suggestions.


  • Read what you have written again.
  • Think about what others said about it.
  • Rearrange words or sentences.
  • Take out or add parts.
  • Replace overused or unclear words.
  • Read your writing aloud to be sure it flows smoothly.


  • Be sure all sentences are complete.
  • Correct spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.
  • Change words that are not used correctly.
  • Have someone check your work.
  • Recopy it correctly and neatly.


  • Read your writing aloud to a group.
  • Create a book of your work.
  • Send a copy to a friend or relative.
  • Put your writing on display.
  • Illustrate, perform, or set your creation to music.
  • Congratulate yourself on a job well done!

Sparkle Words

This is a way to help students stretch their vocabulary—use words that are descriptive and not the usual basic vocabulary that students use all the time (sparkle words). Sparkle pens can be used to write sparkle words.

Internet Workshop

1. Teacher selects Internet sites and provides a way for students to access the sites, without having to hunt for them.

2. Teacher designs the research activity: directions to students, focus questions, DED chart, etc.

3. Students complete the research activity individually, in pairs, or in some cases small groups. Notebooks may be used as a place for students to collect information.

4. Students share the information–this may lead into a writing workshop if the information will be shared through publishing.

Teacher’s Classroom Blog

Ms. Cassidy’s Classroom Blog


Free Rice Blog (Vocabulary)


Literacy, families and learning: Trevor Cairney’s blog to support teachers


Two Writing Teachers


Two Teachers Who Read A Lot


Teachers Net Gazette


Educating Alice


Teacher Magazine


CoolCat Teacher Blog


TeacherLingo Blog




Author/Illustrator Study (by students)

Woody Trathen

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