December 29, 2016
by Brandy Metzger

Lesson plan

Read Across the World

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  • Students will be able to identify themes in short picture books.
  • Students will be able to determine common themes.
(10 minutes)
  • Tell the students that today they are going to review some common themes.
  • Remind students that theme is the message in a text.
  • Have students raise their hands to share some common themes in text. Some themes may include: Acceptance, courage, bravery, friendship, cooperation, kindness, loyalty, and perseverance.
(20 minutes)
  • Locate Africa on a map and tell students they are going to listen to a folk tale from Africa.
  • Have students shade in Africa on their world map.
  • Read the book "Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters" by John Steptoe.
  • As you read the story, draw the students attention to the acts of Nyasha.
  • When you have finished reading the story, ask the students what were some character traits of Nyasha.
  • Explain to the students that the kind acts shown by Nyasha lead us to believe that "kindness" is a major theme in the book.
  • Have students create a three-column chart on their notebook paper to record the title of the story, country it is from and theme.
  • They will record "Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters," Africa, and Kindness in the first row.
  • Tell students that they will read and examine other texts from around the world to determine theme.
(60 minutes)
  • Put students in groups of four or five.
  • Assign each group a picture book to read as a team (these should be various stories from around the world).
  • Students will have 20 minutes with each book and will be responsible for reading the book, locating the country of origin on the world map, and determining the main theme.
  • Students will work with three different books from 3 different areas of the world.
(20 minutes)
  • Ask students to choose two stories that they read and have them create a Venn diagram to compare the two stories including the themes.


  • For advanced students, let them create a triple Venn to compare three stories instead of just two.


  • For students needing additional support, provide students with some ideas of what they can compare in their Venn diagram such as character traits, setting, theme, etc.
  • Google Earth can be used as a world map.
(20 minutes)
  • Students will choose a picture book from a selection of books chosen by the teacher.
  • Students will independently read their chosen picture book.
  • Students will write about the theme of the story and give text support to prove they have chosen the correct them.
(10 minutes)
  • Ask, "What were some common themes in the picture books read?"
  • Ask, "Why do you think these are common themes in children's stories?"
  • Allow time for student discussion on these questions.

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