We Will Rock Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins is the companion book to the #1 New York Times bestselling book We Don’t Eat Our Classmates. Penelope has returned as the only T-rex in her class who is (believe it or not) often overlooked. Since learning that she could not eat her classmates, Penelope has made many friends at school. However, being a T-rex, as you can imagine, makes it difficult for Penelope’s classmates to “see” her rather than the dinosaur. The thoughtful use of both traditional narrative text and speech bubbles will allow children and teachers to share this book in a variety of ways. Possibilities to consider include using as a reader’s theatre or mentor text after sharing as a read aloud. However you decide to use this text, I am sure you will agree that Ryan T. Higgins has once again crafted a delightfully funny story about the fear of trying something new, self-doubt and the power of support and friendship in overcoming that fear. I bet the ending will make you smile too.
Although we often think of picture books for younger readers, there are unlimited opportunities to incorporate them into Grades 6-12 classrooms also. Because they are short, they make excellent mentor texts to use in mini-lessons or to demonstrate writing techniques since you can read them more than once in a short amount of time. They can be used to develop background knowledge about a concept or topic or for quick writes and writer’s notebook responses. Picture books can invite dialogue about tough topics and complex ideas. Most importantly, though, they bring students together into a shared experience that invites everyone in the reading community to celebrate beautiful words and images.
It can take time and money to develop an extensive library of picture books, so my advice is to start with one or two titles that you can use in several ways. Here are four of my recent favorites and some suggestions for using them in your classroom:
The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles written by Michelle Cuevas and illustrated by Erin E. Stead
- Practice describing the author’s style and selecting evidence or examples from the text.
- Practice describing the illustrator’s style and selecting evidence or examples from the text.
- Focus on figurative language by inviting students to choose their favorite example, respond to it in their writer’s notebook, and then use it as a model for their own writing.