March 23, 2014

Must Read Mentor Text: The Butterfly

One of my favorite topics to read about is World War II, especially the events that occurred in Europe. Each year I have my sixers read at least one novel that discusses the plight of the Jewish during this period in history. It's a tough subject for them, but it fits beautifully into what our year is all about. They study the Old Testament and the history of our salvation via the patriarchs so they learn a great deal about Jewish history, the constant oppression they underwent. They are beginning to be aware of the world around, taking note of other peoples and countries since they study world history in Social Studies. And unfortunately, they are at the age when they really notice the difference between them and others with many of them "poking fun" at those who are different.

This year my sixers will read "Number the Stars" by Lois Lowry in Literature Circles, but they won't read this novel until after Spring Break. To set the historical stage and give them a bit more background I'll be reading several picture books/short novels about this same topic. I've already read to them Lauren Tarshis' new novel "I Survived the Nazi Holocaust 1944."

OH MY! She's done it again! I just LOVE this series as do the kiddos! They wouldn't let me put it down and I ended up reading it in just five days.

The book that I am currently reading aloud is not fiction, however. It is a true story by perenially favorite author Patricia Polacco.

Ever since the Nazis marched into Monique?s small French village, terrorizing it, nothing surprises her, until the night Monique encounters ?the little ghost? sitting at the end of her bed. She turns out to be a girl named Sevrine, who has been hiding from the Nazis in Monique?s basement. Playing after dark, the two become friends, until, in a terrifying moment, they are discovered, sending both of their families into a nighttime

 I'm about halfway through this marvelous book! My sixers' reactions are so...? Some are frustrated, some are angry, some are trying to predict, some are absolutely silent! All are engaged and rapt! On Monday we will finish the story, but their questions will begin. They are learning about a time and place so, so different than our own yet they are seeing characters so like them, everyday characters: mothers, fathers, children.

Once we've read the book and had time to talk about the subject matter, we'll return to the text and talk about the literary elements. My sixers and I will be completing this INB foldable as a review of all the elements we have been working with. You're welcome to grab a copy to use in your classroom. It's not book specific so you can use it even with a short story. The directions are designed to give my sixers practice with following written directions. The colors coordinate with the markers I will use when I am scribing notes for each section on the whiteboard.

Later in the week, I'll be sharing more mentor texts about the same subject with my sixers:

There are SOOOOO many wonderful books about this topic! All age appropriate, all thought-provoking! All memorable. Please be sure to stop by Stacia and Amanda's blog, Collaboration Cuties, to discover more outstanding mentor texts for all subject areas.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


  1. I love when books can touch me and the kids the way the ones you described do! I'll tell you though, I am glad I don't teach about WWII in 4th grade because I don't think I could get through it without bawling- the Holocaust affects my heart and mind for days when I read or watch anything about it. It just breaks my heart. In fact, yesterday, I just watched the movie, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (have you read the book?? SOOOO good) and I just boo-hooed, and I'm still thinking about it!

  2. Wow! You've linked up a lot of great books! My kids love the I Survived series. I've also heard The Butterfly is wonderful! I haven't heard of a lot of these, probably because I don't teach about WWII. I'm with Jessica. I don't know that I could get through teaching it. It would be so hard because it's just awful and I get so emotional about that kind of stuff. Trying to read the books would push me over. I give you a lot of credit for teaching our kids about this difficult topic! Thanks for linking up! I know where I'll come if I ever have to teach WWII!


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