Using Books by Tomie dePaola in the Classroom

22 March 2016
I'll admit, I struggled with what to share with you all today.  It's getting to that time of the year...everything is due right before Spring Break!  Grades...yearbook deadline...testing...augh!

But on the drive home, it hit me what I wanted to share...a way that hopefully can make life a little easier on my fellow teachers!

I really love Tomie dePaola's books.  His illustrations, his way of writing, and how easy his books are to use in the classroom.  I wasn't as familiar with his works when I first started teaching, but I began to notice them one by one in my classroom library, school library, or when searching for read alouds to use.

I'd like to put together a list of a few of my favorite dePaola books and how I use them in my classroom.  Be sure to read all the way to the end!! {wink, wink!}

Teaching with trade books by Tomie dePaola

Using Tomie dePaola trade books in the classroom
Photo from amazon.com
I dare you not to cry while you read this book.  It gets me EVERY single time!  This text is great for students learning to make text to self connections, because most kids have experienced some time or another a loved one who is sick or has a major illness.  This book is a poignant look at how Grandpa or "Bob" helps little Bobby learn to walk.  Bob is Bobby's world until Bob has a stroke and Bobby decides that he will help Bob get better...and even walk.  I love the elephant block!! (you have to read it to get that!!)
Using Tomie dePaola trade books in the classroom
Photo from amazon.com
This is one of two books by dePaola that I use in my First American unit in Social Studies.  In 2nd grade, we learn about the Lakota Indians, how and where they lived, their respect for nature, etc. While this book isn't about the Lakota, it has several images that show what life on the Great Plains was like-- teepees, buffalo, the land and climate.  It goes on to describe the legend of the bluebonnet, a flower native to Texas.

Using Tomie dePaola trade books in the classroom
Photo from amazon.com
This is the second of dePaola's books that I incorporate into my Native American unit.  This book tells about path of Little Gopher, and how his path is different than the path of his peers.  The artwork in the book is so pretty...would be a great way to incorporate an art project or visualizing activities, too!  This book again deals more with the Plains Indians, and has the illustrations of teepees and land to point out to students as well.

And lastly...my favorite!!

Using Tomie dePaola trade books in the classroom
Photo from amazon.com
This one is my favorite!  I didn't know this story until it came in one of my read aloud kits, but I am so glad to have found it!  My family has an artsy history...we have a few painters and sculptors back in the gene pool.  Immediately I found myself drawn (no pun intended!!) to Tommy's story and how a real artist doesn't copy other's work, the birthday box of 64 crayons, and looking forward to art lessons at school.  There are lots of different ways you could incorporate this into your language arts block-- and lucky for you, I have a freebie to share with you!  Click here and snag a few activities to use in your own classroom!

Tomie dePaola's books have such a wide range...most have some kind of influence from his Irish and Italian lineage.  From Strega Nona to Jamie O'Rourke and the Giant Potato, there are no shortage of ways to use these wonderful books as a resource in your own classroom!

Hope you enjoy!  {I found a link to several of dePaola's books through his publisher that show ways to incorporate into the classroom.  Click here to access this guide!}

Happy reading {and teaching!}



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