Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Engaging With Literature: A Video Library, Grades 3-5
Engaging With Literature

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2. Voices in the Conversation

3. Starting Out

4. Responding to

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5. Sharing
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6. Building Community

7. Book Buddies

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4. Responding to Literature

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Rich Thompson tries to find books for his students that will engage them as readers while offering them windows into the lives and experiences of people different from themselves. Because his students come to him with a wide range of abilities as readers, he also needs to find a variety of books that are accessible to weaker readers and challenging to stronger readers. While this particular group discussion focuses on Because of Winn-Dixie, the following selections were those from which students could have chosen for literature discussion.

Sounder by William Howard Armstrong

This Newbery Award-winning novel portrays the lives of a family of poor southern sharecroppers. To feed his family, the father resorts to stealing food and is hauled off to jail for stealing a hog. During his capture, Sounder, a coon dog that the man has raised since he was a pup, is shot and disappears, reappearing later tattered and emaciated. The son is forced to take on a man's work to help support the family. He searches for his father who has been sent to do hard labor, eventually finding him. After being maimed in an accident, the father eventually returns before he dies.

Midnight Fox by Betsy Byars

Tom is unhappy when he is sent to spend the summer with his Uncle Fred and Aunt Millie on their farm. After his arrival, a fox begins eating the chickens. Instead of killing the young animal after its capture, they lock it in the shed, raising it as a pet. By the end of the summer, Tom has acclimated to life on the farm, and finds himself sorry when he has to leave.

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo

Ten-year-old India Opal Buloni has recently moved to Naomi, Florida with her father, a preacher. Because of Winn-Dixie, the big, ugly, friendly dog she adopts at the grocery store, she makes new friends among the unusual residents of her new hometown and learns about the mother who left the family when she was only three.

Just Juice by Karen Hesse

School lessons are a mystery to nine-year-old Juice who simply cannot manage to understand letters and reading although she likes to explore and learn and has a talent as an apprentice metalworker in her Pa's makeshift shop. In spite of her family's persuasions, Juice avoids school as often as possible, choosing instead to work with her father who has been laid off from his work at the mine. Pa keeps it a secret that he can't read either, and because he can't deal with the official papers regarding past-due taxes, the family could lose their house. When her diabetic mother gives birth, Juice is the only one home. She forces herself to read the sugar monitor, does so properly, and saves her mother's life.

Pigs Might Fly by Dick King-Smith

Daggie Dogfoot is in danger because he is the runt of the litter and the Pigman is coming to get him. He runs away and decides to learn how to fly. Instead, he learns how to swim when he leaps off a cliff-a talent he uses to save the entire farm.

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