Book Talk Thursday!

Hands down, my favourite subject to teach is reading and reading comprehension!

I'm linking up with Reading Toward the Stars for her Book Talk Thursday linky so I can share a couple books that I love. One of them is a professional book and the other is a book I like to use to teach inferring.

First up is Reading With Meaning by Debbie Miller.
This book is amazing for teaching reading comprehension.  It's a quick read and she has a ton of practical lessons that you can use right away with your students. This book can be your guide for the entire year for teaching comprehension strategies.  It's set up to scaffold children's learning for a gradual release of responsibillity.  Each chapter covers a different strategy and gives you lesson ideas as well as tried and true books to read aloud that support the strategy she is covering.

Her lessons work really well if you follow a reader's workshop model but can also be adapted for Daily 5 if that is how your classroom is set up.  I do a mixture of Daily 5 and Reader's Workshop but next year I'm leaning towards just doing reader's workshop.

The next book I wanted to share is called Mama Panya's Pancakes.

I use this book when I am teaching my students how to infer the meaning of unknown words.  This book is great because it gives students a different cultural perspective and because it takes place in Kenya, there are all kinds of unknown words that students need to practice inferring with.

What I really like about this book is that the Kenyan words that most North American students won't know, such as Baobob Tree, Rafiki, and Karibu, can be found in the glossary in the back of this book!

I begin reading this book by discussing the cover and asking students where they think the story takes place.  I ask them to look at their clothing, the trees and background for clues to help them.  We make predictions about what the story might be about.

Once we begin reading and come to an unknown word I work with my students on using context clues as well as picture clues to help us figure out what each of the unknown words might mean.  We put our answers on chart paper with 3 sections.  One section is for the word, another is for what we think it means and then the last section is for what the word actually means.

The students love making their guesses for each word and then comparing them to the real meaning.  Some of their responses can be quite funny....some are WAY off and sometimes they get the meaning bang on!

This book is also great if you are teaching your students about other countries.  I do a unit with my grade twos about communities around the world and this book fits in nicely with that.  We compare the clothing of the characters in the book to our clothing and their homes to our homes.  It sparks a great discussion about why these things are different in Kenya.  We talk about how Kenya is closer to the equator so it's much warmer there and when you live in a warmer climate you need to dress for the weather.  We also discuss the background in the pictures and how it looks much more tropical than most of North America.

So, those are my 2 books for this weeks Book Talk Thursday!

Link up over at Reading Toward the Stars and share your favourite reads!!


  1. Hi there :) Great post! I think I have that "Reading with Meaning" book that I got from a PD... I should dig that up now and check out some of the things you mentioned. As a new teacher (well this will be my 2nd year as a 1st grade teacher) I'm always looking for ideas and better ways to add to the literacy block. I also like book your recommendation for inferring.

    Last, thanks again for stopping by my blog :) Have a great day!! ~Cara Lee

    1. Oh my gosh, definitely read the book if you have it! And actually, I didn't read it all at once, I read each chapter a couple weeks before I planned on teaching that strategy so then I didn't feel overwhelmed trying to read it all. Plus the ideas were still fresh in my head this way.

  2. Thank you for linking up this week! I will definitely have to read Reading with Meaning. It will help out so much in my small groups! Mama Panya's Pancakes looks like a great book, and I love the idea of using for it to help with word meanings!

    Reading Toward the Stars