Literary Guides for Expanding Family Reading Time
Looking for ways to enhance your family reading time? Hilltown Families has a wealth of resources for supporting families with kids of all ages in expanding the stories that they read together into deeper learning experiences.
Our series, Summer Reading Resource: Literary Guides for Expanding Family Reading Time, features teacher-written guides filled with lessons and activities to accompany some fantastic children’s books. Though the guides are designed to be used by educators, their contents can be easily adapted for use at home for parents looking to supplement their children’s learning. Within each guide, parents will find detailed outlines for activities and lessons to do after reading each story, as well as sets of discussion topics, suggestions for further reading with similar themes, and ideas for tying in math, science, social studies, art, and other topics into your work with the book.
The books included in the series include both picture and chapter books, and cover all of the ages and developmental capacities typically found in grades K-5, and can be divided into three categories…
Early Elementary (ages 4-6)
City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems
A story of an urban dog and his rural froggy friend’s adventures through the seasons, and through the stages of their friendship, too. Major themes include nature, seasonal changes, animal life cycles, and unlikely friendships.
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
Silly young mouse Lilly brings some of her most treasured (and noisy and flashy) possessions to school to share, but struggles to find a way to have the objects around while still living up to classroom expectations. Perfect for teaching youngsters about self-monitoring their behavior and dealing with distractions.
Middle Elementary (ages 7-8)
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
This classic story chronicles a mallard family’s adventure to find a suitable home (which turns out to be Boston) and their subsequent adventures settling into their new city habitat. Easily ties into studies of habitat and animal adaptations, both physical and habitual.
Max’s Words by Kate Banks
Max embarks on a major project to compile his very own dictionary, despite the unkind skepticism of his older brothers. Young writers will identify with Max’s enthusiasm for new words, and can easily relate to many other parts of the story as well – offering readers practice in making text-to-self connections.
Upper Elementary (ages 9-11)
Letting Swift River Go by Jane Yolen
Six-year-old Sally Jane chronicles the destruction of her Swift River Valley community in order to make way for the Quabbin Reservoir, water source for the growing Boston area. Connects well with studies of community and local history, and can spark debate about the tension between rural and urban culture and values.
Danny, the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
In true Roald Dahl fashion, this quirky story is simultaneously silly and shocking. Main character Danny and his father carry out an elaborate scheme to frame a nasty neighbor, learning more about each other in the process. The story raises an interesting ethical dilemma for students to ponder.
Ronia the Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren
Unlike most adventure stories, this one features a female protagonist! Tough, adventurous kids will identify with Ronia’s spirit and will ponder their own values while reading tales of a major family feud.
Looking for more language art resources here on Hilltown Families? Check out our columns:
- Open Sesame: Kid Lit Musings & Review by Cheli Mennella
- One Clover & a Bee: Poems for Families to Learn & Love by Amy Drysansky
We also have a great column by speech-language pathologist, Kathy Puckett, Time to Talk: Supporting Children’s Language Skills.
To find out about story time opportunities in Western MA, be sure to check our list of Weekly Suggested Events for opportunities happening at nearby libraries.