Celebrating Literacy with Books Set in Virginia

Celebrating Literacy with Books Set in Virginia title image

Have you ever wondered which books have settings within your state? I was curious about this, so I pulled together a list of books set in Virginia. After all, I teach fourth graders, and Virginia history is what we teach in social studies.

Books set in virginia

When I think of books that are set in Virginia, there are a few book titles that pop in my mind. However, after researching some, I discovered a few more. Here are a few that I know you’ll be familiar with, but do you notice anything?

  • Bridge to Terebithia
  • Blood on the River
  • Flip-Flop Girl
  • Grandpa’s Mountain
  • Shades of Gray

These are all chapter books, but I was actually hunting for a picture book, so can you guess which I went with? I decided to go with one of my old favorites, The Relatives Came.

Celebrating Literacy with Books Set in Virginia -cynthia rylant books

Cynthia Rylant is from West Virginia, and several of her books, When I was Young in the MountainNight in the Country, and The Relatives Came are autobiographical. If you are not be familiar with The Relatives Came, the gist is that the Virginia relatives travel to West Virginia across the Blue Ridge Mountains to visit the West Virginia relatives for a family reunion. I just love the reunion scene with all the kissing and hugging.

The typical family reunion talk sticks with you. “Oh my, you’ve gotten so big!” “Look how you’ve grown?” Even now, I hear that when we travel home with my own children. How about yours?  I’m sure you can connect with that too.

Why it was important to me to find books set in virginia

Another reason I love The Relatives Came is because I live very near the Blue Ridge Mountains, and that’s the drive we take to see our family in Iowa. This picture is of my parents with our two when we visited Holden Beach, North Carolina a few years ago.  We lost my dad two and a half years ago, so this is a special picture. We have such fond memories of that week together. My parents have made many trips to Virginia through those mountains, as have we. I’m thinking we’ve even packed sandwiches and grape soda pop.  Ha!

The Relatives Came, one of the books set in Virginia



During reading, students record information to tell about the beginning, middle and end. Question task cards are included for group discussion if the teacher uses the book for partner work or in guided reading. There is also a cause and effect page as well using text examples for discussions.



Before reading, students participate in a schema builder (Give One, Get One) about the students’ relatives as well as preteaching vocabulary and characterization. All of my units are organized in a Before, During, After format, and you get both digital and pdf versions.

Your kids will enjoy the Give One, Get One activity. It’s very engaging and active, and it get the kids warmed up for the story and lesson on characterization.



Finally, there are written responses that the teacher can use to extend learning and deepen comprehension. The writing prompt gives the students an opportunity to reflect on Cynthia Rylant’s writing style as they write their own Family Road Trip story.

Get the resource:

Cynthia Rylant Author Study

Cynthia Rylant is a great author to teach if you’re working on books set in Virginia, and you can include all three of the titles mentioned in your unit. The bundle includes units for the books, Snow, In November, Scarecrow, The Relatives Came, When I was Young in the Mountain, The Great Gracie Chase, Silver Packages, All in a Day, All I See and Christmas in the Country. If you prefer to shop on TPT, you can catch these two units HERE.

other related posts you might like:

There are other Virginia related posts on my site you might want to check out. Here are the links to get you started:

Virginia is a wonderful place to visit. You’ll find hikes in the mountains, festivals in the Piedmont, and lots of waves at the beach. We have called Virginia home since 1990, and I think we’re here til the end.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to sharing more soon.



Carla is a licensed reading specialist with 27 years of experience in the regular classroom (grades 1, 4, and 5), in Title 1 reading, as a tech specialists, and a literacy coach. She has a passion for literacy instruction and meeting the needs of the individual learner.

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. I went to the When the Relatives came product, and it was a paid product. Did I do something incorrectly?

  2. The Relatives Came is the first Cynthia Rylant book I was introduced to. It will always be a favorite! 🙂


  3. Perfect books for families! She is such a great author. Thanks for the ideas.

  4. I love Cynthia Rylant! The Relatives Came is one of my favorites. 🙂

  5. This is a wonderful choice for the hop and the classroom! Cynthia Rylant is a staple in my classroom, yet I've never seen this one. My book shopping list is growing by the click!

    Thank you for the shout out, and for your overall awesomeness! 🙂

  6. I never thought about this book for Grandparent's Day or Parent Involvement, but that's a great idea. You could do a whole theme of The Relatives Came for a PI night. 🙂

  7. I love this book and so do my students! Thanks for such a great resource to use with the book!

  8. I love anything by Cynthia Rylant! Your blog design is way too cute!! Love it!

  9. Thanks so much, Andrea. I love it too. I've been stalking Shannon and Courtney for some time now. They totally captured my idea. I love your Just a Dream freebie too. Nicely done!

  10. What an excellent selection! High quality picture books are so valuable!

  11. I agree. Even if you have fifth graders, this book could work very well for skill modeling. I don't think we always keep that in mind. I also love using them for mentor texts with writing. So many options.

Comments are closed.