Reading to Elementary Children

6, 7, 8

Learners will increase their reading fluency and awareness of philanthropy by reading to younger children.

Lesson Rating 
PrintThree Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • demonstrate fluency, dramatic emphasis and knowledge of visual clues and their meaning while reading a storybook aloud to two children.
  • relate a story to events in other children's lives.
  • define philanthropy and describe and analyze motives for giving .
  • Copy of Legend of Blue Bonnet for teacher modeling
  • At least one elementary age-appropriate book for each middle school learner who will be participating as a reader
  • Advisory Planning/Reflective Rubric (handout)
  • Picture Book Reading Rubric (handout)
  • Reflective journals
Home Connection 

None for this lesson.

  • DePaola, Tomie. The Legend of Blue Bonnet: an Old Tale of Texas. New York: Puffin; Reissue edition (April 1996). ISBN: 0698113594.

Statistics on Literacy

  • National Center for Education Statistics []
  • National Right to Read Foundatioin []
  • U.S. Department of Education: National Institute of Literacy [] 


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask students if they have younger brothers or sisters who enjoy having books read to them. Have them try to remember when they were in second grade. Would they have liked to have a teenager help them with school work or teach them games?

  2. Day One: Share with the students the facts about literacy anddiscuss the importance of literacy. See Bibliographical Resources for sources of literacy statistics.

  3. Ask the learners how they first became involved with books and were there stories that were read to them that they especially liked hearing? Explain to the learners that they can help younger students become better readers and in the process become better readers themselves. They each have been matched with two learners from the nearby elementary school and will read and discuss a book with them. Ask for concerns and questions about the project. From the books gathered for this project, allow a few minutes for the learners to select the books they will be using.

  4. In order for the learners to know how to get started, the teacher should model the reading technique, using The Legend of the Bluebonnet , to be used by the learners while helping younger children. Model the following techniques:

    • Choose a reading space away from others.
    • Name the title, author and illustrator.
    • Read slowly and with dramatic emphasis (after having practiced alone to gain fluency).
    • Hold the book so others can see the pictures.
    • Point out how pictures add meaning to the story.
    • Discuss the main idea of the story and how it relates to his or her life and the younger learners' lives. (In this story the teacher can emphasize the philanthropic act by She-Who-Is-Alone.)
  5. Divide the class into groups of three. Have each learner practice reading his/her book aloud to the other two learners in the group. Encourage team members to provide helpful suggestions to improve the readings.

  6. Day Two: Travel to the elementary grade classroom and form groups of a middle school learner with his/her two children. Learners should introduce themselves to their team and read their picture book aloud, remembering to incorporate the strategies from Day One.

    • Choose a reading space away from others.
    • Give the name of the title, author and illustrator.
    • Read slowly and with dramatic emphasis.
    • Hold the book so others can see the pictures.
    • Point out how the pictures add meaning to the story.
    • Discuss the main idea of the story and how it relates to their life and their children's lives.
  7. Before ending, the middle school learner should ask the children how they liked the story and ask what they would like to do next time.

  8. Day Three: Form a sharing circle to reflect on the success of meeting the objectives. Move desks into a circle so everyone can see each other and there is no position with more “power” than anyone else. Share feelings and problems from yesterday's activity. Brainstorm ideas with the rest of the class about what would have made yesterday's session better.

  9. Let the learners reflect on the value of their experience with the elementary children.

    • Did they feel there was value to what they did?
    • How will the elementary children gain from the experience?
    • Was their contribution to the learning of the elementary children something that was worthwhile?
    • By reading to the elementary children, were they giving of their time, their talent or their treasure?
  10. Define philanthropy as “giving of one's time, talent or treasure for the sake of another or for the common good; voluntary giving or voluntary service primarily for the benefit of others. Ask for examples of the giving of time, the giving of talent and the giving of treasure. Inquire whether the learners feel that their time spent with the elementary children was an example of philanthropy.

  11. Ask the learners why they believe others perform acts of philanthropy. When they go back to the elementary school to work with their teams again, what might be their own motives for doing it? In conclusion, have each advisory learner complete the following in his/her reflection journal: “Reading to my children yesterday made me realize that…”


The journal entry, Planning/Reflective Rubric (Handout One ) and Picture Book Reading Rubric (Handout Two ) may be used as assessments of learning.

Cross Curriculum 

Learners will team with younger children from an elementary school by reading a book to them and discussing it. They will make a connection between the story and the lives of the children.

Read about the service-learning project called Reading Connections for All by North Elementary students who were taught using this Helping Children Learn unit of lessons to guide student learning and action.

Ms. Higgins and Mr. Matteson are 5th/6th grade teachers at North Elementary in Indiana. “I love trying to bring real life lessons and experiences to my students. Helping students feel empathy for others and respond with generosity is a trait that is great for all students to experience,” said Ms. Higgins.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Identify specific learning objectives from the academic core curriculum that are being applied in the service-learning project.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
    3. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.