Reading Unit Overviews

Unit 7: Social Issues
This unit serves a few important purposes. For one, the unit continues to encourage readers to shift from reading for plot toward reading for ideas. Social issues book clubs nudge readers to read and revisit books, thinking about the ways in which books address themes and ideas. Then, too, social issues book clubs ask readers to think about ways books are similar and different, one from another.

Social issues book clubs are important for a few other reasons.You aren’t tied to one genre—you can create text sets that combine poems and articles and other short texts with novels from all sorts of different genres. Reading volume increases as students get more and more curious, more passionate, and smarter about the issues they are considering. And finally, social issues book clubs encourage children to see that reading can help us deal with the issues of our lives.

How you can help at home:

  • Talk often with your child about what they do at school or with friends.

  • Celebrate positive social choices made in your child’s life.  Talk about the effect it has on others.

  • Talk about the books they are reading in this unit.  Talk about the character’s choices and whether or not they would have acted in a similar manner.

  • Talk about what motivates the characters to do or feel a certain way.

Unit 6:  Reading to Become An Expert
This is our second round of Nonfiction reading.  In this unit, Reading to Become an Expert, students will build upon what they learned in the first unit about text features, questioning the text, finding main ideas, and more to become an expert on a chosen topic. This expertise will develop through reading nonfiction for a specific purpose using multiple print and digital sources.  In the process, the students will cross-check information, synthesize learning from different texts, and build their knowledge through discussions with others.

How you can help at home:

  • Talk about how you read information from multiple sources based on your interests and how this helps you become an expert.
  • Share your own nonfiction reading sources whether it be print or digital.
  • When sharing articles or texts discuss what is the main point of the reading.  Talk about how you came to that conclusion by sharing evidence from the text.
  • Share your own opinions in regards to a topic.  Your opinion may differ from the thoughts of the author.
  • Identify when your child does nonfiction reading at home for a specific purpose.  For example, they want to buy a new video game and research online. Another example may be, in order to learn more about how to take care of a pet they read books or look online for information.

Unit 5: Author Study
During the Author Study unit, students will continue to develop their comprehension skills by following an author through multiple text by the same author.  Students will become more familiar with an author by making comparisons between texts, synthesizing information from different books, studying characters, and learning about the author’s perspective by analyzing his or her writing. A goal is that students will begin to understand that an author’s background experiences and cultural perspectives influence their writing. Students will also be comparing and contrasting themes, settings, characters, and etc across diverse text by the same author.  Ultimately, since there is such a close relationship between reading and writing, the hope is that students can find favorite authors and learn from them to strengthen their own writing.

How you can help at home:

  • Talk about authors you particularly enjoy reading as an adult or when you were a child.  Explain what appeals to you about the author, was it the genre they write, their writing style, or something else?
  • Discuss books with your child and see if they really enjoy a particular series, talk about how the author is the same person and what makes them such a great author.
  • Try to point out how different authors write based on their own cultures, experiences, or backgrounds.
  • Look up some websites or videos about your, or your child’s, favorite author.

Unit 4:  Mystery
In the Mystery unit, children begin to use their ability to gather information as they read to solve mysteries.  Mysteries written for children have a clear, consistent theme that runs from the beginning to the end in the plot, so that readers of all levels will be turning pages. During the unit, the aim is to nudge children into increasing their reading volume and stamina because of the very nature of the genre they are reading while using the information they gather to solve a mystery.  They will also work on the skills of comparing and contrasting themes, predicting based on inferences/clues, and interpreting.

Our 5 “I Can” Statements for this unit:
1) I can ask questions about their reading then find the answers to them.
2) I can make predictions then confirm or disprove them.
3) I can summarize their mystery book using Who, Wants what, But, So, Then
4) I can describe characters, predict what they will do
5) I can use mystery vocabulary to talk about their book.

How you can help at home:

  • Talk about mysteries and what makes them special.
  • Share with your child your favorite mysteries.
  • When your child is reading a mystery help them find the problem/mystery.
  • Discuss the clues that are found by the detective.  Then make predictions based on the clues.
  • Discuss how the mystery is solved.
  • Talk about whether there were any red herrings.


Unit 3: Non Fiction General
In this unit of study, your child gets to have long stretches of time to read whole non-fiction texts.  They are reading not only to answer specific questions or to look for interesting facts, but rather to learn what the author wants to teach. The unit spotlights skills and habits essential to a reader of expository nonfiction: determining importance and finding the main idea and supportive details; questioning the text; figuring out and using new content-specific vocabulary; and applying analytical thinking skills to compare and contrast, rank or categorize.

How you can help at home:

  • Talk about the non-fiction books they are reading on their own or bringing home from school.  Some questions you can ask are:
    • Why did you choose that book?
    • What do you think the author is trying to teach you?  or What do you think is the main idea of this book?
    • Did you learn any new vocabulary?  What do you think it means?  How do you know?
    • What are some things you notice about non-fiction books?
  • Talk about how their understanding of a new topic is growing as they read this book.  You can ask them:
    • What have you learned in this book?
    • How has your thinking about this topic changed?
    • Do you still have any questions about this topic?  How are you going to answer those questions?
    • Do you have any parts that are confusing to you?
  • Share the non-fiction you are reading.

Unit 2: Character 
This is a unit that focuses on getting your child to read fiction with a lens on characters.  They will be thinking and caring about characters with an emphasis on important comprehension skills such as envisioning, prediction, inference, and interpretation.  Throughout the unit children will be engaged in the crucial habit of reading, reading, and reading more fiction books in series. As your child reads more books in a series he/she will delve deeper and deeper into a study of a character over several books.

How you can help at home:

  • Ask your child questions about the characters in a book.  Are they like real people?  How do the character or characters change over the span of a book or series of books?  How did your thinking change about the character as you read the books?
  • Talk to your child about the main character in a book and ask if the character reminds them of themselves or anyone else in their life.  Ask them why?

Unit 1: Building a Reading Life
The beginning-of -the-year unit works hard at developing reading workshop routines, having students look at themselves as readers, and think about reading goals. This is all done to  build a community of readers who are independent learners, love reading, and learn from not only the teacher, but also each other.  The ultimate goal is to launch a lifelong passion for reading in your children, this will empower them as readers.

How you can help at home:

  • Read with your child, this can be listening to them read or to read to them aloud.  You are welcome to read to them in your own language.
  • Become a role model by reading yourself at home.  Show your child that reading is something everyone does.
  • Help your child find books about their own interests.
  • Talk to them about their reading and their choice of books.
  • Help your child see that reading is done in real life situations such as reading menus, looking for information on the internet, reading a magazine or newspaper, reading signs and print around them, and more!