Celebrating Literacy with Books Set in Virginia

Have you ever wondered which books have settings within your state? I was curious about this a while back. After all, I teach fourth graders, and Virginia history is what we teach in social studies. So, when I think of books that are set in Virginia, there are a few book titles that pop in my mind, but I decided to do a search just to see if there were other titles I hadn’t thought about.  I hopped on Google, and I got a list on the first hit.  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
picture1-3078618These 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.

Cynthia Rylant is from West Virginia, and several of her books, When I was Young in the Mountain, Night 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. Reminds me of visiting our family when I was young. “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.

34218_401353986298_8009947_n-2690905Another reason I love this book 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!


Before reading, students participate in a schema builder (Give One, Get One) about the students’ relatives as well as preteaching vocabulary and characterization.


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.


Finally, there are written responses that the teacher can use to extend learning and deepen comprehension.


original-1041168-1-1688668Since Cynthia Rylant is one of my favorite authors and featured with this hop post, I am thought I’d share the link to the 10 set bundle. 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.

Pin for Later:

Well, I know my friends have great things for you, so I’ll close my post.  Have a great time hopping along and be sure to come back soon.

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Sarah from Sarah Plumatillo.com is up next. She has amazing resources in her store, and I can not wait to see what she’s put together for her book, The Gift of Nothing. Can you?  Well, check out that book over on Sarah’s blog


This Post Has 22 Comments

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

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

  3. 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! 🙂

  4. 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. 🙂

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

  6. 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!

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

  8. 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.

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