Picture Book, Mentor Text, Read Aloud and History Text All Rolled Into One


If You Want a Friend in Washington: Wacky, Wild & Wonderful Presidential Pets by Erin McGill 44 pages © 2020


This title has so many uses across many grade levels.


History Text: Have kids who think history is boring? Share this book and they will see history in a whole different light. As students read through the text, they will discover unique facts that will encourage them to read on such as one president's dog has a park named after her while another president was sent two tiger cubs as a present from the Sultan of Oman. While there are lots of illustrations throughout, the text is extensive and the words are more appropriate for upper elementary students. Middle school students will also enjoy this book as an easier read.


Picture Book: While this title is definitely a picture book, this book would be best for upper elementary students to extend learning. It would also work well for English language learners in middle school who are new to the United States. There is quite a bit of text on many of the pages so students should not see this as a title for younger students. As a reading specialist, I have found many upper grade and middle school students would prefer picture books that are loaded with content rather than digest a bland history textbook.


Read Aloud: For younger students, I would read aloud only a few pages at at time. For example, if the class was doing a unit on wild animals, use this title to extend that unit and read the pages about cats (Yes, a president was given a tiger as a present!) and the section about larger animals.


Mentor Text: Doing a lesson with information writing? This is the perfect mentor text. Have students notice how the author uses illustrations to draw the reader in. There are unusual facts on each page but not too many so the reader is not overwhelmed. Point out that the author added a detailed glossary at the end of the book for students to get more information. Notice how the author uses speech bubbles and signs to communicate information. The author uses vocabulary that is appropriate to the text and some may be challenging for the readers (descendants, lucrative, bovine, agriculturalist, etc) but the author uses context clues to help the reader understand unfamiliar words.


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