Comprehension with Virginia Readers Choice

I love that the Virginia State Reading Association has released the Virginia Readers Choice for the 2016-2017 school year!  I have already started using them to teach my upper elementary students some comprehension skills. They have truly enjoyed the books and can't wait to read more of them.  Today I will highlight three of my favorites with some simple activities you can use with your students.

Here they are!

One great book that makes story elements simple is Found by Salina Yoon. In the book, Bear finds a sad stuffed bunny who needs to find his home. Though he looks for the owner, he knows that the bunny would be a great friend for him. He finds the owner, Moose, who makes an unexpected decision and teaches children about compassion.

My fourth-grade students found this book simple to help them find those major story elements and be able to give a brief summary of the book with no problem at all.

Want to inspire students to take their ideas to the next level? What Do You Do With an Idea is a perfect book for teaching students to take off with their inspiration, no matter what anyone says. The book uses an egg as a young boy's "idea" and follows him as he struggles with what to do and where to go with it. The fourth graders loved watching the idea grow and change the world around them.

This is a perfect book for teaching theme. After reading the book, students wrote their ideas on speech bubbles to show what they thought was the theme of the story. They came up with some different ideas, yet they were all in the ballpark!

And how about this year's Newberry winner? Yes, Last Stop on Market Street is the first picture book to win the John Newberry award! Can you believe it? This book is chock full of lessons for young children as they realize that people live different lives. In the story, CJ and his mother catch the bus after church. CJ asks questions on the ride about why others have what they don't. She always comes back with a reason their life is considered "better", making CJ feel better about what he has. The reader does not know where they are going until the end, which makes the story even more enjoyable.

With the rich descriptive language, the book lends itself to teaching about descriptive language. It is also perfect for comparing and contrasting. I have not used this one for an activity, but it is definitely something many students can relate to, especially through comparison of their lives with CJ's.

There are so many other Virginia Readers Choice books out there for 2016-2017 that are worthy of using to teach many different skills. Stop by my blog, Reading Toward the Stars, each Thursday as I highlight the books in Book Talk Thursday! Click on the Book Reviews link to see those I have reviewed so far and grab some freebies along the way! I will continue to highlight the VRC books on Thursdays until I finish all of the picture books.

Hope this weather warms up soon, so we can all enjoy some much needed outside time!  See you in a couple of months, when school will be close to being out!

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