Tag Archives: text-to-self connections

Home by Adam Leitman Bailey

Schema: Think about what is a home. List some places that are homes to people, animals, and things.

Text-to-Self Connections: Visiting different homes such as relatives, friends, and neighbors

Theme: The author is sharing the message that home is where a person feels happy and loved as opposed to a particular place.

In this full color picture book, the main character, a small boy, feels discontented with his home and sets out to explore the world and the way others live.  He visits many places and tells what he does there. He doesn’t make any judgements about each place. Readers may see their own home in the book. Homes include a farm in a rural area, mobile homes, large homes with swimming pools, a bird’s nest, and an igloo.

Synthesis: Ask students what the author is telling them with this story. I think they will be able to synthesize the boy’s experience into their own schema and apply it to where they live and why it’s the best home for them.

Drawing Conclusions: The boy drew the conclusion that his best home is where he is loved. Each place he visited, he was alone. What was missing? His family was missing.

I recommend this as a read aloud for grades 2-5 for a discussion about homes.


Bailey by Harry Bliss

Schema: first days of school, steps to getting dressed and ready for school

Text-to-text connections: being prepared with homework, participating in music, p. e., share time

Cause and effect: Because Bailey eats paper, the effect is his stomach hurts

Point of View: the story is told from Bailey’s point of view in 3rd person

This book is a great choice to teach text-to-self connections with the youngest reader.  Students will relate to the activities that Bailey goes through during his school day.


So Far From the Sea by Eve Bunting

Schema: sea, setting

Questions to activate background knowledge:

Can you think of another time in history where a group of people have been treated unfairly because of the color of their skin?

Can you imagine being taken away from your family because of your ethnicity?

Why is the title so far from the sea when it looks like the sea behind them?

Why does the woman have spring flowers in the winter time?

Have you ever heard of World War II?

Who was locked up and killed during that war?

What is a spy?

Point of View: Who is telling the story?

Text-to-Self Connections: going somewhere that makes you feel nervous, making emotional connections

Inference: I am inferring that it is winter because they are putting on their jackets.  The wind is cold from the Sierra.

Setting: 1942, popular song: Don’t Fence Me In

Drawing Conclusions: Look at the location of Manzanar and draw a conclusion about why the author made the title “So Far from the Sea”

Mental Images: the field bigger than a football field, seeing it empty like erasing a blackboard, imagining he could climb on the mountain’s back and it would become a big eagle to fly him away, boat( a real American scout sail)  moving on as a way to say his grandfather had moved on, and so were they

Cause and Effect: Because Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the United States, the effect is “the U.S. was suddenly at war”

Metaphor: What could the author mean when he says the grandfather began dying the moment he was put on the bus and taken to Manzanar?  The author is comparing dying to being taken so far from the sea and losing his boat and freedom.

Metaphor: What is “moving on” a metaphor for as the family leaves the cemetery? a boat moving on, the family moving on to Boston, the family moving on and letting the hurt of the grandfather’s mistreatment go

Organizational Strategies: What did you notice about the way the illustrator organized the illustrations with the color pages and the sepia no color ones?  What is he trying to show? Can you think of any other text-to-text connections that show a shift in time?

Compare and Contrast: The way the camp looks before and after the war.

Text-to-Text Connection: Tree of Cranes by Alan Say is set in Japan and a mother is telling her son what Christmas was like in America when she was a child.

Synthesis: Can you think of other groups of people who are thought of as suspicious because of their heritage in our present day time or in the past?–Jewish people during WWII, slavery in the U.S., today’s airport security with certain names, appearances, the Muslim religion, the controversy in NYC about the Mosque being built near the 9/11 site?

Synthesis: Can you think of a time when you had to “move on” and let something go that has hurt you?

Sneeze! by Alexandra Siy

sneezeSchema: sneezing, allergies

Text-to-Self Connections:  sneezing for one of the reasons listed in the book; understanding how the brain works to make connections

Although this nonfiction book discusses the causes and physical reactions associated with sneezing, the book is an excellent source for showing how the brain makes connections.

Inventors:  At the end of the book, the author provides frames of the first moving picture taken by Thomas Edison.

Microscopes:  Many of the images are enlarged hundreds of times and shown in differentiating colors to show the paths that the brain makes as it makes connections.

Mental Images: The concept of the brain making a connection is illustrated to help young readers understand

Reading Comprehension Strategies

Making Thinking Visible: The terms I am explaining below work together to create connections that will help young children to increase their reading comprehension.  For years we have taught reading in abstract terms and many children do become great readers by being exposed to books and reading.  Some of us need something more concrete to which we can attach our learning.  The terms mentioned below and in many of my posts give children the vocabulary with which to talk about their reading experiences.  I use these terms when I read aloud to children during their short library times once a week.  I am teaching them to use these terms when they are sharing with me about what we are reading.  I have witnessed students who do not like to sit and listen become engaged as they are allowed to raise their hand and share a connection they have with what I am reading to them.  Passive listeners are now active ones.  By showing kids what I am thinking when I am reading, I am modeling what being a good reader is like.  Good readers think when they are reading.  Good readers make connections.  Good readers make inferences and predictions.  My students have learned to respond when I ask them if anyone wants to make an inference or a prediction with, “I am predicting that…, or I am inferring that.”  By giving students the vocabulary and modeling the strategies for them, I am helping them to make their own thinking visible.

Schema:  Schema is our background knowledge.  I tell my students that schema is everything in our brains that we have learned from the time we were a baby to now.  I have made up some hand movements to go with it to help them to remember.  We point to our brains,  move our arms in an open circle for “everything,”  hold our arms like we are rocking a baby, then point down to mean “now.” Please ask your student what schema is and what they have in their schema about books that you are reading to and with them.  Research is showing that when we make connections with what we are reading to something we already have in our schema, we will be able to better remember it.

Text-to-Self Connections: When this type of connection is made a student is able to tell you things they have experienced  themselves that are like what they are reading about in their book.  When I am reading a book about frogs, I might have a text-to-self connection with seeing a frog in my backyard, picking up a frog, or seeing my dog chasing a frog.  By reinforcing these types of thinking activities, you will be helping your student’s comprehension skills.

Text-to-Text Connections: When one book connects in your schema (everything you already know) with another book that you have read, you are making a text-to-text connection.   All new learning must be connected with something we already know  if we are to comprehend and remember it.

Predicting:  When reading with your child, stop and ask them to predict what will happen next in the story.  In the library students are expected to preface their prediction with the words: “I am predicting that….”  By asking your child to predict, you are helping them to make a connection with the text which will help them to comprehend and remember what is being read.  Sometimes our predictions are even better than the the actual outcome of the story!  Predicting engages young readers as you are reading with them.

Comparing and Contrasting: When reading with your student, ask how characters, places, or possible outcomes in the story are alike and different.  Students use graphic organizers to show the similarities and differences by writing them in circles that overlap.  The similarities are in the overlapping parts of the circles, and the differences are in the parts that do not overlap.  Please ask your student to show you how they make thinking visible by using a graphic organizer with them such as a Venn Diagram.

Andy Shane and the Pumpkin Trick by Jennifer Jacobson

andyshaneSchema: visiting pumpkin farms, tricking someone

Text-to-self connections: choosing a pumpkin, playing dunking for apples, biting a donut on a string, not wanting to play with a girl if you are a boy

Predicting: Why to you predict Andy is hiding from Delores in the pumpkin patch?

Maybe he is afraid of her, maybe he wants to jump up and scare her?

What do you predict Andy’s great idea to catch the pumpkin smashers is going to be?

Use a Bubble Map graphic organizer to compare and contrast the ways to try to catch the tricksters when Andy and Delores are brainstorming.

Cause and Effect: Because Andy and Delores tripped up and got tangled with the sheets, the effect is that the tricksters laughed at them and ran away.

Personification: The pumpkins take on human traits when they seem to say, “pick me!”

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

cloudy with a chanceSchema: favorite foods, weather, tall tales

Text-to-Self Connections: food, making up a story

Mental Images: Make a mental image of your favorite food falling from the sky and you trying to catch it

Cause and Effect: Because of the pancake landing on Henry, the effect is that Grandpa made up the tall tale about falling food.

Inference: What do you infer is a problem with keeping their clothes nice in the town of Chewandswallow?

At the end of the story, what were the children inferring about the snow when they went sledding?

Drawing Conclusions: The people who lived in Chewandswallow concluded that they had to abandon their town for fear of their lives because of the amount of food falling from the sky.

Synthesis: I am synthesizing that when there is too much of something anywhere, that it is not a good thing.  Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can get too much of a good thing?”  What does it mean?  Can you think of something you like that you could get too much of?

Potato Joe by Keith Baker

potato joeSchema: potatoes

Text-to-Self Connections: the one potato two potato rhyme crows, rodeo, roots growing out of the potato

Sequencing: counting, seasons

Reader’s Theater: The text is simple and could be written into a reader’s theater.  Each student could hold a real potato and add some features to it with a marker.

Personification: The potatoes take on human characteristics.

Mouse Mess by Linnea Riley

mouse mess Schema: mice, food, snacks

Text-to-Self Connections: quiet sounds, stuffed toys, bedtime snacks;

using brown sugar packed in a measuring cup, the mouse stacks the forms up to build a  sandcastle like structure.  Have you ever packed sand in a cup to build a sandcastle?

Condiments: olives, pickles, catsup–What is your favorite?

Bubble bath in a cup–Have you ever soaked in a bubble bath?

Alliteration: Splish-splash, the milk spills out.

Cause and Effect:

Because the people go to bed, the effect is that the mouse can come out and snack.

Because the mouse makes a mess, the effect is that he wants to clean it up himself.

Inference: As the mouse is going to bed the people are coming down the stairs.  How long do you infer that mouse ate and cleaned in the kitchen?  all night?

Point of View: Is the story told from the mouse’s or the people’s point of view?

Mim, Gym, and June by Denis Roche

Mim Gym and JuneSchema: gym for exercising, June is the name of a month and sometimes a person

Text-to-Self Connection: Ask students to notice the mess that Mim has made in the kitchen.  What would your mother say is you made that mess in your kitchen?   Does anyone like being the leader in your line?

In the picture before the book begins, it shows Mim’s mother hemming her pants.  Does anyone have a text-to-self connection with having to hem your pants because they are too long when you buy them?

Text-to-Text Connection: Think Big by Nancy Carlson, Vinney also gets extra food from the cafeteria ladies because he is so small.

Cause and Effect: Because June could not be leader, the effect is that she is angry with Mim.

Inference:  Mim’s mother suggests that she does something nice for June.  We can infer that Mim and her mother make cupcakes.

Ask the students what the cupcake represent besides just being nice to June.  When Mim offers a cupcake to June, the cupcake is a symbol of friendship.  When Junes throws the cupcake on the floor and stomps on it, she is stomping on their friendship and stomping on Mim’s feelings.  When I read this with my second graders I was amazed that they got this.

Drawing Conclusions: When Mim and June talk about the Gym Olympics, they draw the conclusion that they should be friends and be partners because together they could win.