Making Reader/Text Connections

Making Reader/Text Connections

 In the age of Common Core Standards, we ask our students to cite evidence directly from the text. In some classrooms, there is an absence of time to make a personal connection to the text we are reading. And yet, this is the first thing we do as a reader. Should we try to eliminate what comes natural to us? A personal response is a human response. But we’ve all had responses like this. After reading Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner (or any other dog story, for that matter), how many teachers have heard, “I have a dog.”  What often follows is a description or anecdote about that reader’s dog, followed by a flurry of other stories. By the time the students are finished sharing, there’s not much time to discuss the ideas found in the actual text.  So how do we find the balance?

One way is to develop text sets of mentor texts that will help students link their personal connection to something specific they can refer to in the text. Specificity is the key to good writing, and it’s the key to meaningful response. Although I could write a chapter (or even book) about this topic, I have provided you with six important categories for making reader-text connections here.

The key is to use a mentor text as a read aloud, and then model with your text connection (oral and written). You may have to repeat the process with another mentor text read aloud. Then ask students to return to their shared reading experience and find a place where they connect to an experience, find a place in the text where they were surprised, make a connection to a character’s feeling, etc..  Ask them to share (talk) with a partner before they write.

If you have any suggestions for mentor texts for these categories, please share!

  1. Make a personal connection to an experience in the text.


  • Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth
  • My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother by Patricia Polacco
  • Down the Road by Alice Schertle
  • Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco
  • Small Beauties: The Journey of Darcy Heart O’Hara by Elvira Woodruff
  • The Goodbye Walk by Joanne Ryder
  • Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo
  1. Make a connection to an important feeling in the story.


    • One Green Apple by Eve Bunting
    • The Summer My Father Was Ten by Pat Brisson
    • Coming on Home Soon by Jacqueline Woodson
    • Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
    • The Memory String by Eve Bunting
    • Happy Like Soccer by Maribeth Boelts
    • Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe
    • The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig
  1. Would you like ___________for a friend?


    • Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot by Margot Theis Raven
    • Meet Damitra Brown by Nikki Grimes
    • Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein by Don Brown
    • The Goat Lady by Jane Bregoli
    • Shoeshine Girl by Clyde Robert Bulla
    • Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon
    • The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill
  1. Using evidence from the text, explain if you would ever want to………


    • Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
    • The Raft by Jim LaMarche
    • Momma, Where are you From? By Marie Bradby
    • Appalachia: The Voices of Sleeping Birds by Cynthis Rylant
    • Bats! Strange and Wonderful by Laurence Pringle
    • I Want to Be an Astronaut by Bryon Barton
    • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
    • The Bone Detectives: How Forensic Anthropologists Solve Crimes and Uncover Mysteries of the Dead  by Donna Jackson
  1. Did you like this story/article? Why or why not?


    • A Bad Case of Stripes by Davis Shannon
    • Pebble: A Story About Belonging by Susan Milord
    • Allison by Allen Say
    • Odd Velvet by Mary C. Whitcomb
    • Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
    • Everglades by Jean Craighead George
    • Trouper by E.B. Lewis
    • The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson
    • Working Cotton by Sherley Anne Williams
    • It’s Disgusting and We Ate It!  True Food Facts from Around the
      World and Throughout History by James Solheim
  1. What part of the story was most interesting or surprising to you? Why?


  • Goin’ Someplace Special by Patricia McKissack
  • The Wretched Stone by Chris Van Allsburg
  • The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg
  • The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
  • Belinda Blue by Jack Prelutsky
  • My Sister Ate an Orange by Jack Prelutsky
  • Blackout by John Rocco
  • Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peggy Rathman


I am participating in #SOL17. Thanks to the twowritingteachers
blog team for creating and sustaining this wonderful community of writers. slice-of-life2

17 thoughts on “Making Reader/Text Connections

  1. “I have a grandmother.” I remember that response vividly–and this was a junior in high school!
    Your post compiles a useful bibliography for teachers of all students. I would have used these books in my English classes. Again, Lynne, your post is so helpful. Kudos.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Diane. This post took some work. I think I have a pretty good list, but I am going to try to expand each list to a dozen. I think that way partnerships could explore a book together and share responses or even create written responses collaboratively or individually.


  2. Thanks, Elsie. You are right. It is so important to have a purpose for reading, writing, and listening. I wasn’t thinking about that, but now that you’ve pointed it out – I can see this facet is so necessary for meaningful response.


  3. Great lists, Lynne. You make a good point about having a purpose for reading. I think, too, that some of the books you mention can be used for more than one purpose. Once teachers find the books they love, they can return to them and help kids think about them differently. I think that would deepen comprehension.


  4. As always, Lynne, you give a great list of resources. Your statements/questions set a purpose so that students already have a mindset as they are reading. Great for focusing.


  5. We must always begin with our human response. We believe (or interpret) the standards to say that – it is only the evidence that must be from the text. This work you are showing is essential to reading and humanity. In our work in schools, human response is always the entry point. So happy to see you writing about this and providing great text sets for teachers to explore with students. Thank you for advocating!!


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