Elementary Programs Chapter

By Laura Douglas and Stacey Irish-Keffer



“The Reading Express” is pulling into town carrying a trainload of stories to be enjoyed. Each of the train cars features programs on a specific topic or theme. The big, black steam engine is fired up and smoking with a selection of books about trains! The passenger car invites children to lounge around in style and hear stories about people. The dining car offers up a diverse menu of stories about food. The observation car encourages everyone to linger awhile and discover stories about science. Finally, the sleeper car offers luxurious accommodations for stories about night. A visit to the stock car includes eye-opening stories about animals and the baggage car contains exciting stories about travel. The wonderful old red caboose is carrying stories about art and music, inviting children to tap their feet and join the fun. Climb aboard and “Catch the Reading Express!”

This chapter is designed to promote the use of advanced picture books for school-age children and to encourage an interest in nonfiction literature. The chapter is divided into eight themed sections with three programs in each section. Each themed section presents three “Featured Books” that are proven read aloud titles, with their own activities and support materials. The librarian is encouraged to select one story from the three featured and present it with accompanying activities. He or she should read the selected book, encourage discussion about the book and about nonfiction topics related to the book, and select one or two of the enrichment activities to do with the children. Librarians should feel free to adapt the elements to meet the needs of their summer programs.

Each featured book is accompanied by questions that promote discussion with the children. These questions are designed to promote reading comprehension and to encourage children to express their own opinions and interests relative to the events in the story. The support materials also include nonfiction resources related to the featured book. The nonfiction element can center on the subject of the book, the type of literature, the style of art, or a related topic. Presenting nonfiction that relates to the story demonstrates to children how they can find answers to their own questions or seek out more information on subjects of interest.

Each program also features arts, crafts, and activities to extend the experience with the book and make it more meaningful and memorable for the children. Having a project to take home or conducting an experiment engages children in hands-on learning. The crafts allow for individual expression of creativity and are process-oriented rather than product-oriented. The most important element of the craft is that the child completes it to his or her satisfaction. This section also includes other program ideas and resources such as DVDs, guest speakers, and web sites.

Patterns have been provided for a bulletin board that can be used throughout the program series. Each car of the train is representative of the themes for the programs in this chapter. It is designed so that one car can be put up each week to build the train as programs are completed. If desired, put up the whole train at the beginning of the summer, and let the children decorate the cars as the programs progress.

Outline of Themed Sections and Featured Books

clipart of 'All Aboard, the reading express!', train captain waiving from engine, train has infinite number of train cars

Section 1: All Aboard! Stories about Trains

Stormy’s Hat: Just Right for a Railroad Man by Eric A Kimmel.

Railroad John and the Red Rock Run by Tony Crunk.

John Henry by Julius Lester.

Section 2: Passenger Car: Stories about People

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull.

My Great Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston.

Tutankhamen’s Gift written and illustrated by Robert Sabuda.

Section 3: Dining Car: Stories about Food!

Little Red Hen (Makes a Pizza) by Philemon Sturges.

Minnie’s Diner by Dayle Ann Dodds.

George Crum and the Saratoga Chip by Gaylia Taylor.

–Section 4: Observation Deck: Stories about Science

My Life with the Wave translated and adapted by Catherine Cowan.

Wind Flyers by Angela Johnson.

The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins by Barbara Kerley.

Section 5: Sleeper Car: Stories about Night

Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeannette Winter.

Moon Rope by Lois Ehlert.

The Starry Night by Neil Waldman.

Section 6: Stock Car: Stories about Animals

Surprising Sharks by Nicola Davies.

A Pair of Polar Bears: Twin Cubs Find a Home at the San Diego Zoo by Joanne Ryder.

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon.

Section 7: Baggage Car: Stories about Travel

The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Keller.

The Journey of Oliver K. Woodman by Darcy Pattison.

The Buffalo Storm by Katherine Applegate.

Section 8: Caboose: Stories about Art and Music

Ruby Sings the Blues by Niki Daly

The Pot that Juan Built by Nancy Andrews-Goebel.

Zomo the Rabbit by Gerald McDermott

Texas Reading Club 2010 Programming Manual / Catch the Reading Express!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011