Back to School Read-alouds

Middle elementary (grades 2-3):

Lowry, Lois. Gooney Bird Greene. ISBN: 0-618-23848-4 (Lexile level: 590L)

One month into a new school year, Gooney Bird Greene arrives in Mrs. Pidgeon’s second grade classroom. She’s an unusual girl—from the style of her hair and clothing to the lunches that she brings to school. But there’s no better storyteller than Gooney Bird! She helps her classmates learn the elements of story (and important points about good writing) with her daily installments of “absolutely true” stories about herself.

The voice is genuine and the details and nuances about school and teachers are right on. Like the students in Mrs. Pidgeon’s class, your students will clamor to hear more about Gooney each day! (Lowry has written several sequels for readers who can’t get enough of Gooney.)

Before reading: Ask students, “What do we think we know about what makes a good story?”

During reading: Record Gooney’s “teachings” on a chart. Label it “Writing Tips” (the way Mrs Pidgeon eventually does in the book)

After reading: Have students choose one tip to incorporate into their next piece of writing, and/or Use post-its to mark a section in something they’re currently reading that illustrates one of these tips.

Additional books:

Avi. The Secret School ISBN: 0-15-216375-1
Lexile level: 540L

Pennypacker, Sara. Clementine ISBN: 0-7868-3882-5
Lexile level: 790L

Seuling, Barbara. Oh No, It’s Robert ISBN: 9780812629347 Lexile level: 500L

Weber, Susan Bartlett. Seal Island School ISBN: 0-670-88349-2
Grade level: 3.8 (no lexile available)