Keeping fourth grade students engaged during the winter months can be challenging. The best way to keep your reading lessons purposeful, yet fun and engaging is through winter read alouds.
What kinds of books should I read aloud to my fourth graders?
Read alouds should be SHORT. Please don’t fall for the misconception that fourth graders are too old for picture books. Yes, fourth graders should also read novels, but novels are primarily not to be used as an interactive read aloud at this age. Save the novel studies for book clubs and literature circles.
You want to expose students to a variety of genres, yet there is only so much time built into your ELA block. The key is to incorporate a variety of short books that cover several genres, themes, and teaching points.
Although you certainly want variety when it comes to selecting books, it’s also important to implement some kind of organization in the way your units are planned. The books you select to go with a certain unit should have some commonality.
Best 4th Grade Read Alouds for January
Below are my top picks to use with fourth grade students in January. You will find that there are just enough commonalities in these books to make connections and allow opportunities to compare and contrast. However, there is still some variation in language, structure, and genre.
The overarching theme of this January book unit is winter family traditions and the power of persistence.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Owl Moon is a beautiful story of a child and her Pa sharing the special experience of owling together. This skillfully-written account of a simple, small moment is heartwarming and can truly be appreciated by all ages.
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen is a must-read for January for many reasons. It is a phenomenal story for teaching figurative language! Plus it serves as a wonderful mentor text for writing. I could go on and on about why Owl Moon is the perfect fourth grade read aloud for January, but I am going to save that for another blog post.
Click here to buy Owl Moon on Amazon.
Sky Sisters by Jan Bourdeau Waboose
Sky Sisters is the story of two Ojibway sisters who share the powerful experience of venturing out to see the Sky Spirits, the northern lights, together. This is wonderful story of culture and tradition for the fourth grade classroom.
Sky Sisters was carefully selected for a couple of reasons. First of all, it pairs wonderfully with Owl Moon! I honestly cannot think of two winter stories that are better for teaching students to compare and contrast. Both stories beautifully depict the importance of winter family traditions.
Another reason for incorporating Sky Sisters is that the personification and descriptive language is amazing. Students typically need continued exposure to figurative language before demonstrating mastery. Sky Sisters provides a great continuation for the focus on figurative language in this unit. Plus, it makes another fabulous writing mentor text.
Click here to get Sky Sisters by Jan Bourdeau Waboose on Amazon.
Brave Irene by William Steig
Brave Irene is a wonderful story of the persistence of Irene Bobbin who is on a mission to deliver a dress made by her ill mother to the duchess.
Against all odds, Irene sets out into the snowstorm and braves the wicked weather to deliver the dress.
Brave Irene is the perfect mentor text to teach anything from central idea and summary to personification and other types of figurative language. This book is loaded with teaching points for not only reading, but writing as well.
Click here to get Brave Irene on Amazon.
Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Variety in genre is important, so why not include this amazing biography of Wilson Bentley this winter?
Snowflake Bentley was carefully chosen for the end of January for two reasons. First, the theme of perseverance from Brave Irene connects well to the perseverance shown by Willie as he figures out how to photograph snowflakes. This presents a wonderful opportunity for students to compare an contrast a similar theme across different genres.
The second reason Snowflake Bentley is perfect for the end of January is because it is a great mentor text for helping students explore characteristics of a biography. I enjoy incorporating biographies into our writing unit during February, as it is a wonderful way for students to honor black history month. Students need plenty of exposure to biographies before they are able to apply the skills they’ve seen in their writing.
Click here to buy Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin on Amazon.
Final Thoughts on Choosing the Best Read Alouds for your 4th Graders
When selecting picture books to serve as your interactive read aloud, every class is different. As the teacher, you know the needs of your students better than anyone. Always be sure to consider the following:
- What reading skills does my class need to focus on?
- What writing skills do I want to help my students develop?
- What genres do my students need more exposure to?
- How much time do I have for my read aloud?
Ultimately, choose the books that work best for your class. If these winter reads seem like great fit for your class, I highly recommend using them! If you’d rather use these ideas as a starting point and adjust to the needs of your class, that’s great too! As teachers, we know how to reach our students best.
4th Grade Reading – January
If you’re looking to save time planning, then we’ve got you covered! In my store, you’ll find a full month of 4th grade ELA lesson plans and activities centered around these fabulous winter mentor texts. Lessons include reading, writing, grammar, and vocabulary. Winter passages are also included in these units. Follow my store for updates on 4th grade reading units for the entire year!
I hope you enjoy!
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