I’ve been working with several elementary aged children to build their language skills. I always find that rich children’s literature holds their attention, stretches their vocabulary, and builds reasoning skills. Recently, I used two books that I would recommend for grades 3-5 (although I also used them with a second grader):
Fiddlin’ Sam by Dengler and The Raft by LaMarche.
Fiddlin’ Sam uses southern dialogue which brings about discussion on different ways to say things. Sam is a roving character who entertains through his music while traveling the back roads of the Ozarks. The tale takes you through the south as he fiddles for a meal or overnight lodging. The story unfolds as Sam searches for his successor as his father left him with, “This ain’t a gift, it’s a loan. You gotta pass the music along.” There is enough abstract language and inference to question and discuss to deepen a child’s language skills.
The Raft deals with a reluctant little boy who is sent to spend the summer with Grandma on a river. Mystery is created around his grandma as he enters her artistic world of sketches and sculptures from the habitat that surrounds her. When a raft floats up, covered with drawings of animals, the boy is drawn into the river life and learns of the special attraction the raft has to river wildlife.
What read alouds have your found to be rich with vocabulary, inference and storylines to launch storytelling? Leave them in the comments and I will share them with everyone.