Kevin Henkes Books

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How to teach vocabulary with Kevin Henkes books! They are also perfect for author studies and reading comprehension activities.

Why do students love listening to and reading picture books like Sheila Rae, the Brave?

Because the characters are endearing and relatable. They are direct reflections of Kevin's own childhood experiences and also tap into the hopes, dreams and fears of all young children.

Three Ways to Read Kevin Henkes Books

During the first two weeks of school I teach my class that there are three ways to read a book. This is a lesson from The Daily Five by "The Sisters."

  1. Read the Pictures
  2. Read the Words
  3. Retell the Story

kevin henkes books

Kevin is both an illustrator and a writer.

His books have won Caldecott medals and they are a perfect fit for developing background knowledge by predicting the story through pictures.

While reading the text, students and teachers may be surprised at the depth of vocabulary used. Because the children are already familiar with the childhood themes used, they can focus their attention on learning new vocabulary words in context.

Kids are also naturally drawn to reading the stories again and again. The conversation flows as students tell the stories to each other, buddy read them, and simply get lost in the world of Wimberly, Sheila Rae and Owen.

Many teachers use Kevin Henkes lesson plans in their classroom that they have found through Scholastic and other resources.

I did too, until I realized I was wasting my time doing a lot of fluff that didn't contribute to real learning, so I wrote my own unit that followed real learning objectives and Common Core State Standards.

  • Books such as Chrysanthemum and Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse are great for making connections with the text to self.
  • Young children relate to the characters and their problems, making deep connections such as evaluating and inferencing.
  • Most students have experienced something that is similar to the situations in these books and can make text-to-self connections.
  • Children have to discuss, interpret and defend their points of view
  • Tier 2 and Tier 3 content vocabulary is emphasized

Also, Kevin Henkes books support vocabulary development of Tier 2 RTI words.

  • One of the benefits of reading aloud a Kevin Henkes book is the opportunity for reading instruction strategies that meet the needs of students at risk.
  • Allergic, exuberance, grabbed, insulting… Kevin Henkes uses robust vocabulary in his texts - he doesn't shy away from using Tier 2 vocabulary words. This makes his books appealing to older students.
  • ESL students will benefit greatly from making Table Talk Booklets as one of the many Kevin Henkes lesson plans in this unit!

Books Used in the Kevin Henkes' Author Study

Almost 40 pages of activities for Kevin's books! They are unique, tested and follow research-based teaching strategies. Books used in the Author Study are:

Any grade level can use these activities - just differentiate to meet the unique needs of your classroom.

Try these sample pages with your class!

This author study is meant to be used as part of your interactive read alouds. I use this as whole group lessons for two weeks along with providing the books as a Read to Self or Read with a Buddy center time.

Some of the activities you can use as centers, but others are best done either in a Guided Reading Group or whole class.

Either way, your students (and you!) are going to love studying Kevin Henkes books together!

kevin henkes author study

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