Kevin Henkes has several great books in his collection. This particular one I chose is "Sheila Rae, The Brave". I love this story because it portrays a fearless character who isn't afraid of anything. Young children can relate to this character because, typically, they aren't afraid of much either. Sheila wasn't afraid of the dark, thunder or lightning, or big dogs. She tied up bullies and laughed when the principal walked by her in the hall. She stepped on cracks, fought off monsters in closets, and rode her bike with no hands! Fearless she was, until one day she decided she would walk home. Her little sister, who looked up to her in every way, said she was afraid to walk home. Sheila set out on her journey home and ended up getting lost. She tried to convince herself she was still brave and fearless, but out of her element she was terrified! She cried for mom, dad, and Louise, her sister. To Sheila's surprise, Louise was there! She had followed her and remembered the way back home. The little sister saved the day and Sheila was so thankful! This story can portray being brave no matter how small you are. Students could write stories about a time in their life where they had to be brave and get through a situation that was scary. It could also show them that you don't always have to be brave and that it is OK to ask for help when needed!
ATOS Reading Level: 2.5
Reading A-Z: K
"Bear Says Thanks", by Karma Wilson, is a sweet story about a lonely bear in his cave. He wants to have his friends over for a feast, but there is one problem. He doesn't have any food! What's a bear to do? His friends start to drop by one by one bringing him treats such as pies, muffins, fish, nuts, and tea. Bear is so thankful, but he starts to feel bad for not having anything to contribute to the feast. His friends assured him it was fine and that all they wanted was to be together. This is a good lesson on friendship and the importance of being together. Some fun activities while reading this story would be to get a picnic blanket or table cloth to lay out on the floor for the students to join you while you read. Another extra would be to have a picnic basket full of some of the treats in the story. For the fish, you could substitute goldfish. Of course you would need to know allergies before serving food. To go along with the story, since it is like a poem, would be for them to make a thankful lapbook. The middle could be an acrostic poem using the word "thankful". They can list other things they are thankful for on the sides of the lapbook.
Accelerated Reader Level: 2.3
Guided Reading Level: L
"Turkey Trouble", by Wendi Silvano is about a tricky turkey who doesn't want to be on the dinner table for Thanksgiving. Turkey comes up with numerous funny outfits to try to blend in on the farm, but the other animals call him out each time. Turkey comes up with a costume to look like a horse, a cow, a pig, a sheep, and a rooster, but he isn't fooling anybody! They all know it's Turkey. In this story there are repetitive lines so the students can join in while reading! This makes it fun and engaging for them and they are more likely to recall the story. Finally, Turkey has a brilliant idea which saves him from being served on a silver platter. WHEW! Turkey was safe for one more year. Some activities to do with this story would be sequencing of events charts to check for comprehension. Also, the students could do a reader's theater and assign everyone a part to act out. Another fun activity I did with a second grade class was having the students create their own menu and write it out. They were to choose an appetizer, main course, salad, soup, sides, and dessert. They enjoyed this activity and loved sharing their menu with their classmates. Any type of Thanksgiving activity would go along with this cute and fun story.
Guided Reading Level: K
ATOS Reading Level: 2.3
"Thelma the Unicorn", by Aaron Blabey is just plain precious! This is another book about learning to love yourself for who you are and not trying to change just because others think you should or because you think you need to be different. The more children hear stories like this, the better in my opinion. Thelma is a sad pony who wishes she was someone special and glamorous. She finds a carrot on the ground and ties it to her head to make it look like a horn. This is enough to trick a truck driver who just happens to be hauling a truck full of pink paint and glitter. Needless to say, the truck driver wrecks and Thelma is now covered in that paint and glitter. So guess what? She became famous! But, guess what else? It wasn't all it was cracked up to be. She was miserable and missed her friend. Her solution was to clean herself up and go back home where she was happy just being herself. With "Thelma the Unicorn", you can use the rhyming words to show how they make the story have rhythm. You can also have a lesson on rhyming words and other vocabulary found throughout the story. This is a great book for reading comprehension activities and for numerous writing prompts. Endless activities for this book.
Guided Reading Level: L