The Stranger- An Excellent Book for Inferring and Questioning

I want to share one of my favorite books of all time, which I read aloud every fall.  The Stranger is about a man who gets hit by a truck and temporarily loses his memory and forgets who he is.  There is something very peculiar about The Stranger, especially with his fascination with animals and the seasons.  Many clues throughout the story foreshadow the fact that he is “Father Nature” or “Jack Frost,” but they are difficult for the students to figure out at first.  The story raises many interesting questions and requires students to make inferences about who The Stranger is, where he comes from, and what he does.  I love the fact that Van Allsburg never tells us who The Stranger is, so the students are left hanging at the end and must infer on their own.

We used Kidspiration to make a web of the questions that came up during the story and displayed it on the SMARTBoard.  At the end, we answered all the questions and coded them with a T for text and an I for inference.  If our question was answered explicitly in the text, we used the T, and if we had to infer to figure out the answer, we used the I.  I then had my students use this same format while reading their independent reading books.  This was essentially my introduction to “thin and thick” questions.


  1. I LOVE Chris Van Allsburg! The Stranger is a great book. Every December I do a book study using his books. (That way I can read Polar Express!) Have you read The Wreck of the Zephyr? It has an "uncertain" ending too.


  2. This has been on my wish list! Thank you for the details about how you use it. I love how you used Kidspiration and had them use the same strategy for independent reading.
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  3. Our focus for this week at reading group is making inferences! Perfect timing! I'll definitely go and check it out. I love Wreck of the Zephyr, too!

    Young Daze in 5th Grade

  4. I totally want to read this book now. I have not read it yet.
    ~April Walker
    The Idea Backpack