One of the key concepts that readers need to use on a regular basis is determining importance. The ability to determine which parts of a text are important rather than simply interesting or additional information plays a huge role in comprehension.
When you think about finding the main idea, identifying the theme, or determining character traits, each of these reading skills requires readers to zero-in on parts of the text that are important and worth noting.
As students research information to answer questions or to write a report, again, determining importance can make the process relatively simple or extremely difficult.
This reading strategy is not an easy one to teach and will most likely require reinforcing the idea over time to lead students to mastery. The picture books below are a few of the books I like to use for mini-lessons about determining importance.
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Wilfred Gordan McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox tells the sweet tale of a young boy who helps an old lady get back some of her memory.
2. The Gardener
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart is set in the Depression era and tells the story of a young girl and the garden she cultivates on her rooftop in the city.
The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco is a biography about immigration, following a Jewish family’s tradition and the story of their keeping quilt.
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say is based on the author’s grandfather’s journey from Japan to the United States and back again.
Slither and Crawl: Eye to Eye with Reptiles by Jim Arnosky gets readers up close and personal with Reptiles, detailing all sorts of great information such as how to identify venomous snakes.
The Night I Followed the Dog by Nina Laden is a fun children’s book about a young boy who think his dog is ordinary, that is, until he follows him on one eye-opening night.
Why Does the Earth Spin by Mary Kay Carson, in question and answer format, offers a great deal of fascinating information about our planet and its many wonders.
8. Hoop Genius
Hoop Genius by John Coy is a fun narrative about how basketball came to be.
Bats by Gail Gibbons is an informational picture book for those interested in learning all about bats!
Here are a few more mentor texts for teaching determining importance:
If you’re looking for reading resources to help teach about determining importance, this one might help! The Launching Reading Workshop unit includes an entire month’s worth of mini-lessons as well as an entire year’s worth of framework or supporting materials for Reading Workshop. The first two weeks are about routines and expectations and the second two weeks are all about reading comprehension strategies. “Determining Importance” is one of the 10 key reading comprehension strategy mini-lessons. There are also anchor charts and graphic organizers about determining importance too!
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