Sunday, April 26, 2015

Five Chapter Book Read-Alouds My Students Loved

As the school year begins to run down, I am already beginning to think about next year.  I'm a big believer in "notes for next year."  I want to keep the things that are working well, but change those that aren't.  So, I asked my students to rate and review the chapter books we've read this year. Some of them weren't very memorable and some kids didn't even remember that we read them. I won't be reading those again. The others received a variety of ratings and some mixed reviews. I've compiled the results and here is a countdown to our very favorite book. I've included a link to the Scholastic Book Wizard page (click on the title) and the Amazon page (click on the picture).

5.  Horrible Harry in Room 2-B by Suzy Kline

Since I teach second grade, I chose this first Horrible Harry book as my second chapter book read-aloud of the year.  My students related easily to the characters, who are also in second grade.  They were quickly engaged in the story of Horrible Harry as narrated by his best friend, Doug.  Like Doug, my students couldn't wait to find out what "horrible" thing Harry would do next. The book is light, humorous, and realistic.  My kids loved it!

This was our first chapter book read-aloud of the year. My kids instantly related to Keena and how her small mistake led to a big lie. My students quickly made connections between Keena and  Junie B. from Barbara Park's wonderful series of books about a kindergartner and first grader. They enjoyed Keena's capacity for trouble as well as the warm realistic feel of her family relationships. Keena lives with her mother and brother in Washington, DC, but looks forward to time spent with her father in Maryland.  She also enjoys a close friendship with her friend Eric, whose placement in another class leads to yet more misunderstandings. This was a fun, humorous read-aloud and a great way to start off the year.

This book received a rating of 4 to 5 stars from several students.  It had just enough mystery and humor to keep my students engaged and eagerly awaiting the next chapter.  They worried about the fate of poor Hermie and loved the outcome.  After we read this, many of my students became avid Jigsaw Jones fans.

2. Snoop Troop: It Came From Beneath the Playground by Kirk Scroggs

Honestly, this was not among my favorites. I have a feeling that this graphic novel made the list simply because it is the most recent chapter book we've read.  However, many of my kids simply loved it.  One student gave it 5 stars and said it "had a lot of funny chapters and the book was cool."  Another boy said it was his favorite because of the "robotic mole."  One of my girls said "it was funny and 'mustereest' (mysterious)." All of the kids agreed that it was a very funny book. The humor definitely appealed to a second grade audience.

And in a landslide vote, this was our absolute favorite chapter book this year:

 1. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

"'s so nice and cheerful." "Opal and Winn-Dixie are a great team..."
"...because Opal loved Winn-Dixie and because Winn-Dixie is funny."
"It was lovely! It is funny, sad, and lovely! It was full of love!"
"Love it!"
"There was a dog in the book."
"...the beginning is funny."
"...very, very good and similar to the movie."
"...because I get deep in the story."

These are some of the comments my students made when I asked them to tell me why they liked Because of Winn-Dixie best.  If you've never read it, let me tell you that it is the best kind of realistic fiction.  The main character, India Opal Buloni, narrates the story of how a chance encounter with a stray dog in a grocery store changes her life.  The overarching themes of the story are acceptance and friendship.  Parts of it will make you cry and parts will make your class roar with laughter.  Not only is this the favorite book chosen by my class, it's been my favorite read aloud for years!

I hope you find this list helpful. Please share some of your favorite chapter book read-alouds in the comments below.

Until next time,

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