When I was at the library the other day I happened on two "new to me" books. First I picked up A Castle on Viola Street by Dyanne DiSalvo. I was familiar with Dyanne DiSalvo's work- as her story City Green was one that I really enjoyed in our reading anthology.
I stood in the shelves and opened A Castle on Viola Street- I was hooked after reading a letter located at the beginning of the book. This is a book with an important purpose. I tucked the book into my library bag.
As I continued to hunt for the books on my list, I stumbled across the book The Old House by Pamela Duncan Edwards. I love books that students can make all sorts of connections to and with- and this one paired really well with the DiSalvo book, so into my bag it went, as well.
So back to A Castle on Viola Street...
This is a story about a hard working family who live in a small apartment. They dream that one day they might have a place of their own. They discover that an organization is buying some of the old houses in the neighborhood and fixing them up. With this organization (like Habitat for Humanity), people can volunteer to help fix the houses up and in turn other people help fix a house for them. The family signs up in hopes that their dream of owning a house will come true.
I love this book... it tells a beautiful story of a hard working family. They all pitch in and work together. What a wonderful message to send to our students.
This book would be great to use to teach students about THEME, which can be a difficult concept for students to grasp. I have created a free anchor chart pack that you can grab HERE!
After reading the story aloud, you can pass out the theme cards from the anchor chart pack and do a class sort. After deciding on the words that go with the story- glue them on the chart and then use the words to write a theme statement for the book. This makes a difficult concept a little easier for students.
The book The Old House would be a great story to read as a follow up. Students can make connections between the two books. One thing about this book that really stood out to me was the idea of how important it is to have a purpose- that is the underlying theme that spoke to me in this book. That is a pretty deep idea for kids- but one that is important. You could point it out and use it as your springboard for discussion.
(**If you wanted some other texts that explore the idea of "purpose"- check out the story The Grannyman by Judith Schachner and Yoda: The Story of a Cat and His Kittens by Beth Stern.)
Hope you love these books as much as I do!