Yesterday in our sixth grade class we finished our read aloud, Pax by Sara Pennypacker. Our students enjoyed the story of a boy and his fox. We all predicted that the book would be a feel good tale of a boy separated from his animal and reunited at the end. No one predicted that it would ultimately be a story of loss, kindness, war, and the power that fear holds over a child. After a culminating class conversation about the book, I asked my students to write a letter. They could choose to write a letter to: the author, characters, a friend, or someone of their choice, as long as the letter conveyed their understanding of theme using evidence.
In reading their letters about Pax, I found lots of language that reinforces to me the importance of teaching readers to be writers and writers to be readers.
“I’m wondering if you added this for meaning…”
“I have a good connection to the end of the book…”
“I was surprised when I heard…”
“I would like you to write another book about…”
“A lesson the character learned that I have also learned is…”
I highly recommend Pax as a read aloud for sixth grade. But more importantly, our classroom of readers highly recommends it to you.