The Power of Reading

Students learn about the joy books and reading bring to people's lives, the different ways people access books, and some of the barriers people have faced when trying to learn how to read. 



Unit 5

1st Grade

Unit Summary

In this unit, students explore the power of books and reading. In the first part of the unit, students experience the joy that books and reading bring to people's lives, and learn about some of the different ways people access books, especially in places where books are hard to get. In the second part of the unit, students learn about a range of barriers people have faced when trying to learn how to read, both in the United States and around the world, and build an understanding of the steps people have taken individually and as part of a community to overcome the barriers. Students will discover that not all people have had equal access to education and that in many places, past and present, receiving a high-quality education has not been an easy feat. It is our hope that this unit will help open students' eyes to injustices connected with educational access and will inspire students to take action to help members of their community get access to books or education.

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials

Supporting Materials


These assessments accompany this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

Prepare to teach this unit by immersing yourself in the texts, themes, and core standards. Unit Launches include a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning.

Essential Questions

  • How do people get access to books?
  • What barriers have people faced when trying to learn to read? How do they overcome them?

Writing Focus Areas

Sentence-Level Focus Areas

  • Write simple and complex sentences.
  • Include details that describe "who," "what," "where," "when," and "why."
  • Use conjunctions "because," "but," and "so."

In this unit, students continue to work on using complete sentences in response to the text. In particular, they continue to work on using the conjunctions "because," "but," or "so" to show more nuanced thinking and ideas in response to the text. They also learn how to use precise words to show "who," what," "where," "when" and "why."

Opinion Writing Focus Areas

  • State an opinion. 
  • Include two to three reasons to support the opinion. 
  • Provide some sense of closure. 

In this unit, students have multiple opportunities to write opinion pieces to build a deeper understanding of unit content and texts. At the end of the unit, they use what they learned from the unit to argue whether or not books are still important. This is a writing project that students will take through the writing process.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Build on others' talk in conversation by responding to the comments of others through multiple exchanges.
  • Use specific vocabulary. Use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share thoughts.  

In this unit, students work on using all of their strategies to participate in discourse. When building on others' talk in conversation, students may begin to critique and analzye the reasoning of others, the key work of Tier 3 of the three tiers of academic discourse. The focus areas and discourse in this unit align with Tier 2 and Tier 3 of the three tiers of academic discourse and all rows of the Academic Discourse Rubric (K-2). See the Teacher Tool on Tiers of Academic Discourse to help support students with the focus areas for this unit.



barrier complicated confident companion devour determined degrading discouraged distress disbelief dismissed disability eager forbidden frustrated invent integrate injustice insist inferior joy lure ordinary outwit precious proud unusual vow yearn

To see all the vocabulary for Unit 5, view our 1st Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Supporting All Students

In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards

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Unit 4

Being a Good Friend