Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes

Recommended Grades: 3-5

Chester had his own way of doing things.  Chester’s best friend Wilson was exactly the same way.  That’s why they were best friends.  And then Lilly moved into the neighborhood…

Lesson Idea:  


Making Connections:   Read aloud Chester’s Way and discuss the text-to-self connections that you can make to the book.  This is a great model text for making connections.  Chester’s Way is also a great model text to make text-to-text connections.  There are several other Henkes books that have the same characters  that make great model texts.

©2013 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus by David Adler

Theme: Nonfiction Read Alouds

Strategy: Making Connections

Recommended Grades: 2nd -4th grade

A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus (Picture Book Biography) is a brief account of the life and accomplishments of Christopher Columbus.  It may be a bit primary for upper elementary students to read independently, but the information can be used to supplement a unit on Explorers or Native Americans.

Lesson Idea: Tie this biography into a unit about Explorers or Native Americans.  Consider using other biographies, journals, or letters related to Christopher Columbus and his explorations. Download a Making the Connection graphic organizer and after students have background knowledge about these topics, model how to make connections to themselves, between other texts, and/or the world.

Content Connections: A Picture Book of Christopher Columbus (Picture Book Biography) is a great book to connect to social studies units about Explorers or Native Americans.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Thundercake by Patricia Polacco

January Theme:  Patricia Polacco picture books

Patricia Polacco is another author whose books became touchstone texts in my classroom.  Her ability to write stories that children can relate to makes it easy to see why her books became model texts.

Comprehension Strategy: Making Text-to-Self Connections

A lovely story about the relationship between the author and her grandmother.  The child in the story is afraid of thunder.  Babushka (her grandmother) helps her overcome her fear of thunder by distracting her during a storm.  As a result she shares a special time with her grandmother and learns something about herself.

Thundercake is a great model text to use to teach students how to make text-to-self connections.  Explain how good readers connect the text to their own life.  It helps them understand the text better. (The timing is off in the text in terms of how quickly the storm approaches and how fast the grandmother and granddaughter bake a cake, but if you are looking for a book that students can connect to in terms of relationships, then this will work!)

Lesson idea: Create a large t-chart.  On one side, label Text and on the other label Self.  As you read aloud, stop and model for students various points that connect the text to your life (or your childhood).  Perhaps, spending time with a grandparent, fear of something, baking, etc. In the column for Text, note what happens in the text that creates the connection.  In the column for Self, note the connection.  Provide other books that lead children to make text-to-self connections.  Many Cynthia Rylant books offer themselves to this comprehension strategy.   Have students read them in pairs or small groups and discuss their text-to-self connections.  After students become familiar with this strategy, encourage them to make text-to-self connections as they read independently.

**Note** I provide these lesson ideas under the assumption that you are familiar with teaching comprehension strategies.  If you are not, and would like more information about teaching Text-to-Self Connections or any other comprehension strategy, please feel free to contact me at Dlittle[at]linkstoliteracy[dot]com.  I am happy to provide more specific lessons if necessary.

Do you have any touchstone texts or touchstone authors in your classroom?

©2010 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Dinner at Aunt Connie’s House by Faith Ringgold

A fantastic book that highlights noteworthy African American women through history. Each woman introduces herself and discusses her contributions to U.S. history.

Making Text-to-Text Connections
Using her internationally renowned artwork and historical facts, Caldecott award-winning author, Faith Ringgold weaves a story between past and present as noteworthy African-American women tell their stories to the current day narrator. Students can easily make connections to the adversity that the women went through to forge a place in U.S. history. Lesson Idea: Through a social studies unit on civil rights, have students read biographies about the various women. Ask them to make connections between Dinner at Aunt Connie’s House and the biographies they read. Ask students to think about how women were part of the evolution of civil rights over the years, particularly African American women, beginning with Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman and moving on to Rosa Parks.

How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis & Clark by Rosalyn Schanzer

Drawn from the actual letters and journals of Lewis and Clark, it begins with two letters from the men as they decide to embark on the expedition together. The rest of the text is written in journal format about the people and places that the two men encountered as they traveled west of the Mississippi.

Making Connections
This text can be used at the beginning of a unit on Lewis and Clark. Since it is written in journal format, it lends iself nicely to making connections. Use it as a read aloud and model for students how to make text-to-self, text-to-text, and text-to-world connections. Provide a graphic organizer and model for students how to display your connections on the organizer. Allow students to practice making connections to other texts using the organizer as a guide. Eventually, you want students to be able to make connections without the use of an organizer.
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