Unit 5: 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.
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.
As readers, in this unit students use everything they have learned from previous units to deeply analyze a text. When describing a character, students review how to notice a character’s actions, motivations, traits, feelings, and relationships in order to develop a nuanced understanding of the character and determine the central message of the story. When discussing the text, students work on using all of the strategies they learned in previous units to participate in an effective partner, small-group, or whole-group discourse. When building on others’ talk in conversations, students may begin to critique and analyze the reasoning of others as a way of continuing the conversation through multiple exchanges, however, the focus is still on building on and responding to others’ comments.
As writers, students continue to practice writing fluently in response to the Target Task question, using a variety of simple and complex sentences to show more nuanced thinking and understanding of the text. Over the course of the unit, students have multiple opportunities to refine and hone their opinion writing skills by writing opinion pieces that include a strong opinion, two to three reasons, and a sense of closure.
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Book: Book Fiesta! by Pat Mora (HarperCollins Publishers, 2016)
Book: The Good Little Book by Kyo Maclear (Tundra Books, 2015)
Book: That Book Woman by Heather Henson (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008)
Book: Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown (Tricycle Press, 2011)
Book: Tomás and the Library Lady by Pat Mora (Dragon Fly Books, 1st Dragonfly Books Ed edition, 2000)
Book: Little Libraries, Big Heroes by Miranda Paul and illustrated by John Parra (Clarion Books; Illustrated edition, 2019)
Book: Digging for Words: José Alberto Gutiérrez and the Library He Built by Angela Burke Kunkel (Schwartz & Wade; Illustrated edition, 2020)
Book: Ruby's Wish by Shirin Yim Bridges (Chronicle Books, Reprint edition, 2015)
Book: Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan by Jeanette Winter (Beach Lane Books, 2009)
Book: Virgie Goes to School with Us Boys by Elizabeth Fitzgerald Howard (Aladdin, Reprint edition, 2005)
Book: Grandmother School by Rina Singh (Orca Book Publishers; Illustrated edition, 2020)
Book: Running the Road to ABC by Denize Lauture (Aladdin, Reprint edition, 2000)
Book: The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard (Schwartz & Wade; Illustrated edition, 2020)
Book: More Than Anything Else by Marie Bradby (Orchard Books, 1995)
Book: The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles (Scholastic Paperbacks, Rep Anv Sp edition, 2010)
Book: Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Tonatiuh (Harry N. Abrams; Illustrated edition, 2014)
Book: Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco (Philomel Books; Illustrated edition, 2012)
Book: Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille by Jen Bryant (Knopf Books for Young Readers; Illustrated edition, 2016)
Assessment Text: Dear Librarian by Lydia M. Sigwarth and Romina Galotta (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
These assessments accompany this unit and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.
Download Content Assessment
Download Content Assessment Answer Key
Download Cold Read Assessment
Download Cold Read Assessment Answer Key
Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit
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.
The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units
To determine the central message of a story, readers notice the character's feelings, traits, relationships, and change.
When describing a character, readers notice a character’s actions, motivations, traits, feelings, and relationships.
Write simple and complex sentences.
Include details that describe “who,” “what,” “where,” “when” and “why.”
Use conjunctions “because,” “but,” and “so.”
Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text
To see all the vocabulary for Unit 5, view our 1st Grade Vocabulary Glossary.
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.
Identify your favorite things about reading and books.
Explain how the little book brought joy to the boy’s life.
Explain how the Biblioburro changed Ana’s life.
Explain how Cal changes from the beginning to the end and what causes the change.
Explain how the Library Lady changed Tomás’ life.
Explain how José brought joy to the kids in his neighborhood.
Explain why Little Free Libraries are important.
Explain the challenges Louis faces when he tries to find books and how it makes him feel.
Explain how Louis Braille helped all kids get access to books and why this was important.
Discussion & Writing
Write about ways to take action and get books to people in your community.
Explain how the children feel about going to school.
Explain what Booker wants more than anything else and how he makes his dream come true.
Explain why Virgie wants to go to school with her brothers and how she feels when she is there.
Explain the lessons we can learn from Mary and why they are important.
Describe Ruby and what we can learn from Ruby.
Explain why Sylvia and her family cannot attend the local public school and what action her family takes.
Explain how the Mendez family fought for justice and why their fight was important.
Analyze the barriers people have faced when trying to learn how to read and how they have overcome them.
Explain how Ruby made her wish come true.
Explain how school and learning to read changes Nasreen’s life.
Explain what lessons we can learn from Aaji.
Describe the challenges Trisha faces at school and how they make her feel.
Analyze how Mr. Falker changes Trisha’s life.
Opinion Writing – 3 days
Write a thank you letter to someone who helped you with books or reading.
Defend if books are important or not by stating an opinion and using facts and examples from the unit to support the opinion.
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The content standards covered in this unit
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
— Print all upper- and lowercase letters.
— Use frequently occurring prepositions (e.g., during, beyond, toward).
— Produce and expand complete simple and compound declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory sentences in response to prompts.
— Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
— Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using frequently occurring conjunctions to signal simple relationships (e.g., because).
— Retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson.
— Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
— Explain major differences between books that tell stories and books that give information, drawing on a wide reading of a range of text types.
— Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.
— Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade 1 topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups
— Ask and answer questions about key details in a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
— Produce complete sentences when appropriate to task and situation.
— Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or name the book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply a reason for the opinion, and provide some sense of closure.
— With guidance and support from adults, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
— With guidance and support from adults, recall information from experiences or gather information from provided sources to answer a question.
Standards that are practiced daily but are not priority standards of the unit
— Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
— Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.
— Identify who is telling the story at various points in a text.
— Compare and contrast the adventures and experiences of characters in stories.
— With prompting and support, read prose and poetry of appropriate complexity for grade 1.
— Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to gather additional information or clarify something that is not understood.
— Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly.
— Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
— With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.
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