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Specific Novel & Picture Book Activities - "J"


Jack and the Beanstalk

by Val Biro

readability grade 2, read aloud kindergarten

Yes this is the traditional tale with the upset mother, angry giant, and adventurous little boy. What makes this version different are the detailed and colourful illustrations of Val Biro's traditional style. I love Val Biro's giant, who looks clumsy, fat, yet scary at the same time (maybe his big pointy club gives the latter effect!). The illustrations are very true to the text, so troubled readers can also still read the story.

Re-tell the story through pictures:

  1. Draw an outline of a leaf on a piece of paper, and photocopy enough for your class.
  2. On chart paper ask the class to retell the story sentence by sentence.
  3. Assign one sentence per child and ask them to draw a corresponding picture (have left over sentences done by children who finish early),
  4. Display these pictures in order on a beanstalk going up a bulletin board .


Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato

by Tomie dePaola

readability 2, read aloud kindergarten

This is a wonderful retelling of an Irish Folktale. Jamie O'Rourke is was the laziest man in all of Ireland. He was so lazy that when he caught a leprechaun his one wish was to have the biggest potato in the world so that he wouldn't have to work anymore. Tomie dePaola's writing and illustrations clearly show that being lazy and getting others to do your work, may not work out in your favor for long.

In this story, Jamie's potato was so big that his town had to eat potatoes all winter long. This must have resulted in some creative potato recipes. Make some potato pancakes with your class:

What you need:

What to do:


Jillian Jiggs to the Rescue

by Phoebe Gilman

read aloud kindergarten, readability grade 2

Jillian Jiggs wakes up one night to find her little sister Rebecca crying. As Rebecca is being comforted she reveals to Jillian that she is afraid of monsters. To help her sister qualm her fears, Jillian and her friends make a monster machine and set off on a monster hunt! This wonderful book can help children deal with their fears as well as promote creative problem solving.

  1. Build a mini monster machine:

    About a week before doing this, ask kids to bring junk from home (toilet paper rolls, aluminum foil, lids, plastic containers, styrofoam meat trays, sandwich bags, string, little boxes, various paper scraps, etc.) Collect all of this junk in one big pile for the whole class to do. Let the class dig in and pick things that they would like to use and let them go at it. Have paints, markers, and construction paper also available for use also . You'll probably need a half a day to do this since it generates a lot of excitement and mess to clean up, but it will be well worth it! You'll be surprised at some of the creations your class comes up with.

  2. Draw a monster machine:

    If you had to capture a monster what kind of a trap would you build?, how would you attract monsters to your trap?, what kind of monsters would your monster machine catch? Draw a picture of it, keeping all of these questions in mind.


Journey to the Center of the Earth

by Jules Verne

read aloud grade 5, readability grade 7

A secret message written by a 17th century alchemist sets Prof. Otto Lidenbrock, his nephew Harry, and their Icelandic guide Hans on an amazing adventure to the center of the earth. Throughout many stumbles and setbacks, this team discovers an underground ocean, prehistoric monsters, and the mazes that no one has ever stepped in.

This classic is suspenseful, and very intriguing. I have been avoiding it for years, I know that it's a classic, but it didn't appeal to me. But, I finally read it and I loved it. You should read it too for yourself and your students!

There are many points where Harry out of pure exhaustion, hunger, or thirst ends up fainting and falling into a delusional world. Make a pictoral fantasy line. List all of the major events that happened in this book. Draw pictures for each one. Draw a line across the middle of a large piece of paper. On one side of the line glue pictures of things that happened when Harry was conscious, and on the other side of the line glue all of the pictures of things that Harry imagined were happening.