Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Favorite Chapter Books - Workshop Wednesday

So, when my BBB Jivey mentioned that the topic for this Wednesday's linky was to write about ONE chapter book that we use in class, I knew that I'd have a really hard time with it. 

I mean, of course I want to write about Wonder by RJ Palacio, but I've already done that! Go check that post out if you're interested in hearing more about that awesome book, and check out my novel study unit for it while you're at it! I can't rave about this book enough.

I could always talk about Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger too, which is a super fun chapter book to do with kids, but I've done that already too! I made another novel unit and lapbook set for that book as well.

So, I figured rather than rehash the same info about those two books I'd talk about one that won't just sound like an advertisement!  ;) 

Picking just one chapter book to focus on is impossible! We always have a novel going on in my classroom, whether it is a full blown study of the novel or just a class read-aloud. I have so many favorites! I know a lot of teachers have some old stand-bys that are favorites of mine as well like Frindle, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Phantom Tollbooth (which this very blog is named after!), Holes, etc. but in the end I figured I'd share about our next read-aloud, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

We are about to begin our next Social Studies unit, which is all about Japan. So obviously this is a perfect time for me to read this book with the kids, but you could read it whether you have a Japan unit or not! It tells the true story of a girl named Sadako Sasaki who was two years old when the bombs were dropped, and ten years later develops leukemia from living in Hiroshima. In the hospital she set the goal of folding 1,000 paper cranes, but only makes it to 644 before she succumbs to her illness.

Sadako's memorial
I've read this book with my 2nd graders when I taught the Japan unit in GA, and I think every year the kids were absolutely shocked that this book doesn't have a happy ending. We're reading Gooseberry Park right now, and I have several kids worried sick about Stumpy the Squirrel (who has gone missing during an ice storm)...but today I overheard one of my boys say to a girl, "Chill out, you know everything's going to work out...these stories always have happy endings." The story of Sadako doesn't end happily, but I think it does do a great job of showing kids that sometimes our actions can have lasting implications. Being exposed to a story that doesn't end with everything wrapped up in a nice bow is a good experience for them, and this piece of historical fiction really cements one of the big ideas behind why we study not repeat the mistakes of the past.

The book is pretty short and easy to read. I will probably finish it with the kids in a week and a half. I usually use it as a whole class read-aloud, and will model some of the CAFE strategies as I read it with the kids. Noting the point of view, character traits of the characters, cause and effect, and making predictions based on evidence from the text are all good places to go with this book.

There are a ton of activities available to go along with this book out there on the web. I've included a couple of sites you might consider checking out if you plan to read the book with your class!

Kids Peace Station - an illustrated timeline of Sadako's brief life.
The site also has a place to send and read letters to Sadako, and lots of other information about the bombings, Japan, and peace.

Fold a paper crane - this includes step by step videos for folding a perfect crane. In past years my classes have folded 1,000 cranes and shipped them to the shrine in Hiroshima.

Don't have time for the chapter book? Consider checking out the picture book version! Sadako by Eleanor Coerr is illustrated by Ed Young, and tells the story in a somewhat shorter version that the illustrations make up for greatly. 

Be sure to stop by all the other links to learn about some more great chapter books!


  1. This is such a great story, even with the sad ending.


  2. Oh man. I read this for the first time when I taught 2nd and couldn't believe it had a sad ending! LOL But you're right- it's good for kids to see that even after someone has passed, they leave such a lasting impression that they continue to change others' lives. Thanks for linking up!


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