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Read-Aloud Ideas: Gifts of Character
Younger students are aware of the importance of good friends in their daily life, of the value to them of their classroom and school communities, and of the need to be kind to one another. Use this season to reinforce the work you did earlier in the year around building community and a positive classroom climate by introducing students to characters who are excellent examples as kind, caring friends and neighbors.
As you read, students will likely be able to make a number of text-to-self connections. After reading several of the books, students can compare and contrast the main characters and their own situations. What was the same? What was different? What word(s) would you use to describe the main character? How do we know this from the story? (evidence in the text to back it up) What “big idea” seems to be a part of every story?
Extend the discussion to include brainstorming ways that class members might also demonstrate kindness, friendship, and sharing. Are there special events (food drive, clothing drive, mitten tree) that they can contribute to as a class? Can they share their time or talents with others who might be lonely during this season? (Sharing a song or two at a local nursing home or senior center; inviting seniors into the classroom for a poetry reading or publishing circle, making cards by hand or computer for families in homeless shelters)
Compestine, Ying Chang. The Runaway Rice Cake. ISBN: 0-689-82972-8 Lexile: 300
Children will recognize elements of the familiar Gingerbread Boy story, although this is primarily about a young boy’s willingness to share (even when it’s difficult!) and the good that can come of it.
Hutchins, Pat. The Doorbell Rang. ISBN: 0-688-05252-5 Lexile: 340
A modern classic about sharing, with a delightful ending.
Pearson, Emily. Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed. ISBN: 0-87905-978-8 Grade level equivalent: 5.3
Is it possible for one small act of kindness to have a huge impact on a community? Yes, it is! Have fun making the connection to math that the author provides with this one and challenging your students to follow in Mary’s footsteps.
Rylant, Cynthia. Mr. Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea. ISBN: 0-15-256255-9 Lexile: 540
Sometimes the kindest thing is to simply share your time with someone, like Mr. Putter and his beloved cat. This is the book that launched the series.
Schubert, Leda. Here Comes Darrell. ISBN: 0-618-41605-6 Grade level equivalent: 2.4
No one is a better example of a good neighbor than Darrell! During every season in his Vermont community, he’s there helping his fellow citizens—chopping and delivering wood, plowing snow, pulling vehicles out of the mud, etc. When his own neglected barn roof is blown off in a storm, Darrell’s neighbors come to his aid and repay his many kindnesses.