Of all the authors I love, there is one who has published a great collection of titles that I find work well from fall into winter. With themes of scarecrows, changes in the weather, life in the mountains, the Christmas holidays, and winter, you can weave in so many skills and writing options.
Cynthia Rylant’s writing style works well for teaching author’s craft, visualizing, point of view, imagery, drawing conclusions, making inferences, and finding text evidence to support thinking. Of course, her works also provide an excellent example for writing ideas, voice, and word choice, so they lend themselves well to persuasive, descriptive, and narrative writing. Today, I’d like to share the titles I like best and how I’ve used them.
WHEN I WAS YOUNG IN THE MOUNTAINS
This choice can be used any time of year, but I would use it at the front end of this author study mainly as a way to share some of Cynthia Rylant’s history with your students. Cynthia Rylant is from West Virginia, a state known for its beautiful mountains and fall colors as well as connections to coal mining. This book includes information of times past, and the illustrations help the reader visualize life without technology and things we have today.
THE RELATIVES CAME
Another book that connects to Cynthia Rylant’s childhood and history is The Relatives Came. This one is a classic in many classrooms and is listed as a recommended mentor text all over Pinterest. The setting is during the summer, and it tells about how the Virginia relatives go over the mountains to visit the West Virginia relatives. (and you can probably guess why I love it since I’m a Virginia blogger!) I’ve used this book with multiple grade levels even though the reading level is about a second-grade level. If you’re modeling skills with a book, the reading level isn’t terribly critical.
Ah…what a gem! If you’re looking for a great book to help your students understand the importance of giving versus receiving. I love this book’s tenderness and feel like it provides a wonderful model for our children. The setting is West Virginia (like the previous two), and it too includes a Then and Now theme.
CHRISTMAS IN THE COUNTRY
Another holiday book that works well for December is this one. I used both Silver Packages and Christmas in the Country for different reasons. Christmas in the Country is descriptive like the others I’ve mentioned. It’s great for discussions on family traditions, preparations, and how we all celebrate in different ways.
Once the holidays are over, it’s time to look at winter themes. Snow is another descriptive text that students can imitate for their own writing. Kids love waiting for the automated calls to come out letting them know it’s a snow day, and this book totally relates to that enthusiasm.
THE GREAT GRACIE CHASE-STOP THAT DOG!
What a sweet book! We had a dog just like Gracie, and this anytime book is perfectly connected to kids. Every single kid I know can relate to dogs that flee the scene and love the chase. It’s a great choice for cause/effect relationships, sequencing events. problem and solution, making connections, and with writing, kids can write their own pet adventure. Teachers can use this book as a mentor text for story structure and narrative writing. It’s an excellent choice for the middle grades.
ALL IN A DAY
This very simple text is best used for writing and theme extension. The story tells the importance of making the most of each day. I’ve included it as a great choice for back to school and establishing classroom routines.
ALL I SEE
This is one of Cynthia Rylant’s lesser-known titles, but like All in a Day, it’s about keeping the focus on important things. In this book, the main character is a painter who focuses on the beauty of nature in his paintings. The peaceful surrounding helps him get creative, and as he paints, he has a silent observer. Eventually, the painter meets the young spy who’s been watching him, and they form a connection.
AUTHOR STUDY FUN
As you can see, this author study is comprehensive. It includes over 350 pages of printable and digital options for you to use as you celebrate Cynthia Rylant’s work. Author studies help students connect to the author’s style and gives students a place to go for other titles you may not be using. Kids love to reread books you’ve used too.
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As you can tell, I love Cynthia Rylants work and so have my students. I’ve used all of these units multiple times with different groups of children. Of course, they’ve been tweaked quite a few times too, and I’m quite sure your students will love the units as much as mine have.