The Missouri Reader Vol. 42, Issue 1 - Page 42

One of my favorite literature units that we teach in second grade is our Hand-Me-Down Tales From Around the World unit. Throughout this literature unit we read many culturally diverse books, which provides the opportunity to connect social studies within the literature unit. The students are able to compare and contrast stories from various regions around the world. We have a total of eight different books that we use to teach moral, lesson, and big idea. However, since this unit is taught at the end of the school year, we like to use the books to review story elements and point of view, which have previously been taught. In order to practice these previously taught reading skills and the new skills, I create a giant poster to record these reading skills as we finish each book. According to Santoro, Chard, Howard, and Baker (2008), read-alouds “create opportunities for children to reflect on the storyline (or the text’s language) to promote comprehension” (p. 397). This is a great way to incorporate student led anchor charts to organize thoughts about the entire unit. I personally love this unit because the students are extremely engaged and excited to read the next book. At the end of the unit the students are extremely proud of the poster that we have created together.

The first read aloud for this unit is the Pied Piper’s Magic by Steven Kellogg. This tale originated in Germany. Once we have completed the book, we will fill out the chart and place a picture of the cover of the book as well as a map to show where this tale originated. As a class, we record the characters, setting (when and where), the main problem, solution, plot, point of view, the big idea, and the moral or lesson. While we are filling out the chart, the students discuss their ideas for the chart with a partner. This is a great way to get students thinking about what we have read and it gives them an opportunity to talk to each other. Gritter (2011) suggests that “participating in whole-class discussions is hard for some students. Initially, some student may be more comfortable working in pairs or small groups” (p. 446). By having students discuss ideas in small groups or with partners, I am able to check to make sure students are comprehending the stories. The second book is The Enormous Turnip by Alexei Tolstoy, which originated in Russia. The three books we read that originated from China are The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Hachet Bishop, The Empty Pot by Demi, and Liang and the Magic Paintbrush by Demi. As we continue reading and learning more about moral or lesson, I will scaffold the students to where they can identify both the big idea and moral or lesson on their own. Then we will read Stone Soup by Marcia Brown and Stone Soup by Heather Forest. The last book we will study in this unit is from Russia. It is called Bone Button Borscht by Aubrey Davis. The chart also promotes discussions about similarities as well as differences between the books.

This literature unit provides an opportunity to integrate social studies into the unit. Since we also include the origin of each tale, the students work in groups to research these different countries. We focus on learning about the flag, food, celebrations, wildlife, education, and interesting facts about each country. Through this literature unit, students are able to make the connection between reading and writing. The students read various texts about their specific country and record notes. Then the students will create a poster with important information about their specific country. This allows the students to see a world outside of their small rural town.


Gritter, K. (2011). Promoting lively literature discussion. The Reading Teacher, 64(6), 445-449. Doi: 10.1598/RT.64.6.7

Santoro, L. E., Chard, D. J., Howard, L. & Baker, S. K. (2008). Making the very most of classroom read-alouds to promote comprehension and vocabulary. The Reading Teacher, 61(5), 396-408. Doi: 10.1598/RT.61.5.4


Hand-Me-Down Tales from Around the World: A Second Grade Literature Unit

Haleigh Brown

Haleigh Brown is a second grade teacher at Sparta Elementary School. She absolutely loves teaching second grade. She is working on receiving a master's degree in Literacy and hopes to eventually become a literacy coach so that she can coach teachers in reading instruction.