Great Read Alouds to Pair with Writing and Some Poetry

I'm excited to be linking up with Amanda from The Teaching Thief and Jennifer from Lifelong Learning to share a couple of my favorite fiction books.  My first is “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” by Mo Willems.  My first graders LOVED this book and it’s a great way to teach both voice and persuasive writing for the little ones.  It's about a pigeon who keeps begging the readers to let him drive a bus after the bus driver requests that the readers "don't let the pigeon drive the bus."  After I read the story aloud, we made a class book called “Don’t Let The Pigeon Come Into Our Classroom!”  The kids pretended to be the pigeon trying to convince the students to let him into our classroom.  They came up with some hilarious responses such as, “I’ll do your homework for you,” and “I won’t tell your teacher.”  This activity was so fun and really helped my students begin to understand persuasive arguments. 

Another read aloud I love to use when teaching voice and persuasive writing is “I Wanna Iguana” by Karen Kaufman Orloff.  It’s about a boy named Alex who really wants a pet iguana and is trying to persuade his mom to let him have one by giving convincing arguments.  The entire story is told in the form of letters between Alex and his mom, and some of her responses to his arguments are pretty funny.  After we read this story, my first graders wrote a letter to their own parents trying to persuade them to let them get a pet.  They actually did a great job coming up with some good persuasive arguments!  FYI, this book has a great sequel called “I Wanna New Room.”

While I’m on the subject of writing, I thought I would share some of my favorite poetry activities I did when I taught fifth grade and student taught third.  Maybe I can recycle some of these ideas to use with my fourth graders this year.

These are I Am Poems, which I’m sure most of you have heard of.  I had the students stand in front of the overhead projector while I traced the shadow of their profile onto black paper.  They cut out their profile and glued it onto colored paper.  Then they typed their poems, printed them out and glued them on.  I used this activity to teach voice, explaining that we should be able to recognize who each poem belongs to just by hearing their voice in their writing.

For this activity, the students wrote a poem about an item that is special to them.  Most of them wrote about pets, toys, etc.  They brought in a picture of their item and then typed the poem.  They repeated the line “This is my _____” at the beginning of each stanza, and the second and fourth lines had to rhyme.

This is a collage of haikus my students wrote to celebrate spring.  In a haiku, the first and last lines have 5 syllables and the middle line has 7.  They did a really nice job working together and planning out how to put the whole thing together with very little help from me.


  1. Hi Kristin! I love both of your book pics! Those are two of my all time favorites and I am completely stealing that idea about "Don't Let the Pigeon in Our Classroom." Too cute! Also, I had somehow missed the sequel to I Wanna Iguana, so thanks for shedding some light on that. Finally, what totally awesome poetry projects! I would love to use those with my 4th graders this year. Thank you for sharing such wonderful ideas, can't wait to see more!

    The Teaching Thief

  2. Hello again! Sorry for the double comment. If you get a chance, will you grab my Friday Fiction button off my blog and add it to your post. Thanks!!

    1. I just added your button..oops! I have only been blogging for a few days and there is definitely a learning curve to this. I love your blog and since I'm moving from primary back up to 4th, I will be "stealing" lots of your amazing ideas from your blog!;) I'll have to check out "Extra Credit." My fifth graders loved Andrew Clements, especially "A Week in the Woods" since I read it before a two-night outdoor ed. trip. Thanks for your comment and for following me as well! I look forward to seeing next Friday's picks!

  3. Ooo, I Wanna Iguana sounds good for persuasive writing. Thanks for sharing! I love your silhouette poetry idea! It looks beautiful. :)

    Marvelous Multiagers!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Jill! The I Am poem project was a bit time consuming, but SO worth it.

  4. I have used I Wanna Iguana for persuasive writing too! I will definitely check out the sequel - sounds fun!

  5. I have heard about I Wanna Iguana, but was unable to get my hands on it last schoolyear. I may have to find it by way of Amazon. :)

    Thanks so much for linking up! I appreciate all of your ideas!

    Lifelong Learning

  6. I love your book picks! I think even 5th graders would like these lessons.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    Inside this Book