Making inferences is one of the key reading skills that good readers need to master! Piecing together information from the text and reading between the lines is almost intuitive for some readers, but for others, it’s a skill that can be taught over time.
Using mentor texts is a great way to focus on inferences. Stopping every now and then to use think-aloud strategies and pair-share discussions will reinforce the idea that readers are thinkers, and making inferences is a big part of that thinking!
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Here are a few of my favorites picture books with strong inference examples!
1. The Bracelet
The Bracelet by Yoshiko Uchida follows a young, Japanese-American girl, Emi, who must leave her home during World War Two. As a parting gift, Emi’s friend gives her a special bracelet, but when she loses it in her new home, Emi worries she may lose the memory of her friend forever.
2. The Bear Ate Your Sandwich
The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach is a light-hearted tale about a bear who finds himself lost in the city. The adventure truly begins, however, when the bear stumbles upon an unattended sandwich in the park.
3. Two Bad Ants
Two Bad Ants by Chris Van Allsburg is about two greedy ants who, in search of crystals for their queen, stay behind in the kitchen’s sugar bowl and fall sound asleep after eating more than their fill of sugar. These ants are in for a rude awakening when they are scooped from the sugar bowl and plopped into a cup of boiling-hot coffee.
4. Tar Beach
Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold describes the fantasies of its full-of-life heroine, Cassie Louise Lightfoot, who, on a summer night in Harlem, flies over the George Washington Bridge. Besides using this one for inferences, I love having kids do a Tar Beach-inspired art project. The collage borders of the book are so beautiful!
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon is a sweet story of a young fruit bat, Stellaluna, who becomes separated from her mother and must find her way home. She eventually finds comfort when she encounters a nest of birds who take her in.
6. City Dog, Country Frog
City Dog, Country Frog by Mo Willems explores the passing seasons, as well as the unlikely friendship between a frog and a dog.
7. Where Are You Going Manyoni
Where Are You Going Manyoni by Catherine Stock is filled with beautiful illustrations. The story follows a young girl, Manyoni, on her two-hour morning journey to school.
8. The Memory Coat
The Memory Coat by Elvira Woodruff is a thoughtful picture book in which readers will discover how a Russian boy’s tattered, woolen coat helps him to enter America.
9. The Boy Who Grew Flowers
The Boy Who Grew Flowers by Jen Wojtowicz is about a special boy, Rink, who grows beautiful flowers all over his body whenever the moon is full. While members of his school and town think of Rink as an outcast, Rink feels a little less alone when he discovers that a new girl at school has a few special powers of her own, too.
Here are a few more mentor texts for teaching making inferences:
Bootsie Barker Bites by Barbara Bottner
The Invisible Box by Trudy Ludwig
The Wretched Stone by Chris Van Allsburg
The Wreck of the Zephyr by Chris Van Allsburg
The Royal Bee by Frances and Ginger Park
Storm is Coming by Heath Tekavec
Mr. Peabody’s Apples by Madonna and Loren Long
Are you looking for ready-made inference resources?
These are entire print and digital units loaded with passages, task cards, and more:
3rd-5th Grades Inferences Using Literature
3rd Grade Inferences Using Informational Text
4th and 5th Grade Inferences Using Informational Text
I LOVE these digital units to reinforce learning! These have 2 passages, vocabulary, comprehension, and focused inference slides. Students enjoy the drag and drop, interactive format! The links are for fiction units, but they also come in nonfiction too.
4th Grade Making Inferences Digital Reading Unit
5th Grade Making Inferences Fiction
Want to READ MORE about how to teach making inferences?
8 Activities to Build Inference Skills
Using Text Evidence to Make Inferences
Making Inferences Using Nonfiction Text
5 Reasons to Use Mentor Text With Big Kids
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