Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally M.

Recommended Grades:   3-5

When Harry Colebourn saw a baby bear for sale at a Canadian train station, he knew he could care for it.  Harry was a veterinarian.  But he was also a soldier in training for World War I.  Harry named the bear Winnie, short for Winnipeg, his company’s hometown, and he took her along to training camp in England.  Winnie became the regiment’s much-loved mascot, but who could care for the bear when Harry had to go to battle in France? Harry found just the right place for Winnie: the London Zoo.  There a boy named Christopher Robin came along and played with Winnie. 

Lesson Idea:

Mentor Text: Biography: Building Background Knowledge: Read aloud Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh and pair it with Fur, Fins, and Feathers by Cassandre Maxwell for students to get a background look at the London Zoo as a care-taking spot for Winnie.  Additionally, you could read aloud Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh to give students a look at the background of Winnie while pairing it with Winnie the Pooh stories.  Share the end papers with students which provides primary sources of Harry, Winnie, and Christopher Robin.

©2015 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.

I, Too, Am America by Langston Hughes, Illustrated by Bryan Collier

Recommended Grades: 6-8

In this beautiful interpretation of Langston Hughe’s poem, I, Too, Am America, Collier depicts the job of the Pullman porter. 

Lesson Idea:  


Poetry/Primary Sources/Building Background Knowledge:  Prior to reading aloud I, Too, Am America, locate primary sources on the Library of Congress website as an activator.  Ask students what they notice in the sources (either specific Pullman porter sources or sources from that same time period).  Read aloud and discuss the role of the Pullman porter during the 1920’s.  Discuss what life was like for African Americans during that time and what life is like now.

©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.

Independent Dames by Laurie Halse Anderson

July Theme: Using Picture Books to Teach Reading Strategies

Reading Strategy: Asking Questions to Build Background Knowledge

Recommended Grades: 4th-6th grade

Everyone has heard about the men of the American Revolution.  But what about the women and girls?  Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution answers the question through thoughtfully researched information.

Lesson Idea: Teach students to ask questions to help build their background knowledge before reading a text.  Show students the cover of the book.  Discuss the term, “dames.”  Discuss the important male figures of the American Revolution and their accomplishments.  Then ask, “What about the women?”  Ask students to write down any questions they have regarding the women of that time period.  What did they do?  Are there any familiar historical women of that time period?  Why don’t we hear as much about the women?  Then read aloud the book and determine if you can answer any questions.                    

©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.

America: A Patriotic Primer by Lynne Cheney

July Theme: Using Picture Books to Teach Reading Strategies

Reading Strategy: Building Background Knowledge

Recommended Grades: 4th-6th grade

I chose to review America : A Patriotic Primer in honor of our Fourth of July holiday yesterday. This is a great picture book to help build children’s background knowledge of the principles on which the United States were founded.  Be sure to read all of the little bits of information on each page.

Lesson Idea: Prior to a unit on the history of the United States, discuss what students already know about the founding of the United States.  Read aloud the book and discuss new information that students learned.  You may want to consider charting the information as well.  Once sufficient background knowledge has been built, have students create their own ABC book about other facts related to America (i.e. symbols of the U.S., presidents, or a combination of historically important people and events)        

©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.

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out by National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance

February Theme:  historical/presidential picture books

With the celebration of President’s Day last week, I thought I would take the month of February to review and share lessons pertaining to picture books related to history or presidents.

Recommended Grades: 3-6

Strategy:  Building Background Knowledge

More than 100 authors and illustrators offer essays, short stories, illustrations, presidential letters and speeches, comics, personalreflections, and even a one-act play about life inside the White House.

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out is a fantastic resource to use to build background knowledge of the White House.  The compilation provides a variety of genres and opinions (sometimes opposing) as well as an in-depth resource for learning.

Lesson idea: Read aloud snippets from particular eras of the White House (depending on which one you are studying) to help your students build their background knowledge.  Have your students conduct research on the same era and compare what they learn.

©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.