Using novels to link to your content areas is a great way to introduce an area of study or inquiry to your class. Reading these books aloud during your unit will keep your students engaged, build their background knowledge and give them many opportunities for making connections, questioning and inferring. While there are many to chose from, here are my top ten novels (plus 2!) for both primary and intermediate grades with links to content:
(Please note that the grades listed are only suggested and that pre-reading any book before reading it aloud to your class is strongly recommended.)
1. Appleblossom, the Possum – Holly Goldberg Sloan
Content Link: science, animals, marsupials Gr. 2-3
Delightful glimpse at the world from a charming little marsupial’s point of view. Beautiful illustrations and a perfect read-aloud for a grade 2-3 class learning about animal families.
2. The Prince in the Pond: Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin – Donna Jo Napoli
Content Link – science, frogs, life cycles Grade 2-4
A delightful fairy tale about a frog having been turned from a prince by a hag, making the best of his new life as he mates, has children, and instills a new kind of thinking into his his frog family. Lots of frog life-cycle facts woven into this charming story.
3. Nuts to You -Lynne Rae Perkins
Content Link: nature, animals, tree conservation, environment Gr. 2-4
Two courageous squirrels set out on an adventure to save their friend from a hawk. Funny, heartwarming, suspenseful story of friendship.
4. Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue – Paige Braddock
Content – science, biology, pond life, conservation Grades 2-3
A hilarious graphic novel for young readers featuring a cast of memorable animal characters who live in a small pond. When they discover their home will soon be bulldozed to make way for a new highway, Stinky Cecil and his friends attempt to save their pond.
5. The Wild Robot – Peter Brown
Content: adaptation; environment; survival; community; climate change Gr. 4-6
A robot discovers she is alone on a remote island. This is an amazing survival story that would make a great read-aloud to stimulate rich discussions about what happens when nature and technology collide. Heart-warming and action packed!
6. Ghost Voyages II: The Matthew – Cora Taylor
CONTENT – Social Studies, Canadian history, explorers, John Cabot Gr. 4-6
When he touches his grandfather’s old stamp, 11 yr. old Jeremy travels back in time and finds himself sailing on a tall ship with John Cabot as he claims Newfoundland for England. An exciting adventure story filled with important moments in Canadian history.
7. Inside Out and Back Again – Thanhha Lai
Content – Social Studies, immigration history, Vietnam war Gr. 5-7
A beautifully written, moving story of immigration told in verse through the eyes of a young girl during a year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from her home country of Vietnam to Alabama.
8. The War That Saved My Life – Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Content links – historical fiction, WWII; disabilities, survival. Gr. 5-7
A heartbreaking and emotional story Ada, a young girl with a club foot who escapes with her brother from their abusive mother. This novel is set in WWII England and weaves historical moments throughout. I was particularly struck by the remarkable character development.
9. Fatty Legs – Christy Jordan-Fenton
Content – Aboriginal issues, residential schools, social justice Gr. 5-7
Fatty Legs tells the true story of an eight-year-old Inuit girl named Olemaun Pokiak and her experience with residential school. Short, lyrical and straightforward memoir recounting the cruel treatment she endured and the hope, resilience, and unbreakable spirit she showed.
10 . The Boundless – Kenneth Oppel
Content link – Canadian history, building of the CPR Suggested Grade 6-8
An action packed, rags-to-riches, adventure story of a boy on the maiden voyage of a cross country maiden journey of The Boundless – the world’s longest and most luxurious train. Sprinkled with facts about the history of the expansion of the Canadian railroad, facts and scenes from Halifax to Victoria, including some mythology of Sasquatches and the Hag of the Muskeg.
11 . Zombie Baseball Beatdown – Paolo Bacigalup
Content -Food safety, racism, immigration, activism Gr. 7-9
A high-energy, high-humor look at the zombie apocalypse that has underlying messages about the health of our meat supply and how policies on illegal immigrants allow employers to take advantage of them. And how could you not like a zombie cow head?
12 . Paper Wishes – Lois Sepahban
Content: historical fiction, WWII, Japanese internment camp. Gr. 6-8
A fascinating and often painful truth of WWII’s Japanese internment camps is the setting for this beautifully written story of a loving family supporting each other through unimaginably difficult circumstances.
Thanks for stopping by! Would love to know which book has caught your eye!