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ELA G3:M1:U1

Building Background Knowledge: Seeking the Power of Education and Reading

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The Foundational Reading and Language Standards Resources Package for Grades 3–5

Use this guide to build additional literacy blocks alongside the module lessons.


In this first unit, students will explore the question: “Why do people seek the power of reading?” Through the study of literature, literary nonfiction, and informational articles from around the world, and in their own backyards, students will experience the extraordinary lengths to which some people go in order to access the power and privilege of reading. Students will learn about and practice how to close read and answer text-dependent questions. They also will determine the criteria for a good conversation and practice discussing texts with their peers. Throughout this unit, teachers also will conduct a variety of reading assessments on individual students, based on district or school priorities. (This will lay the foundation for students getting to know their own reading powers during Unit 2.) As the mid-unit assessment, teachers will gauge students’ ability to collaborate with their peers. Students will begin to build their ability to write an informative paragraph using a simple “accordion” structure to help them understand how to develop a topic with facts, definitions, and details. In the end of unit assessment, students will demonstrate their ability to organize and record notes about “reading superheroes” throughout the world.


Each unit is made up of a sequence of between 5-20 lessons. The “unit at a glance” chart in the curriculum map breaks down each unit into its lessons, to show how the curriculum is organized in terms of standards address, supporting targets, ongoing assessment, and protocols. It also indicates which lessons include the mid-unit and end-of-unit assessments.

Big Ideas & Guiding Questions

  • What is the power of reading and education?
  • How does where people live in the world affect how they access reading and books?
  • People overcome great challenges in order to access learning and books.
  • Readers can learn about different cultures (people and places) through a variety of texts.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards and to be taught during the literacy block of the school day.   However, the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies and Science content taught during other parts of the day.  


Texts to buy

Texts that need to be procured. Please refer to Trade Book List for procurement guidance.

Cover Text Quantity ISBNs
That Book Woman
by Heather Henson
Teacher copy only
ISBN: 978-1416908128, 1416908129
Nasreen’s Secret School
by Jeanette Winter
One per student
ISBN: 978-1416994374, 1416994378
Waiting for the Biblioburro
by Monica Brown
Teacher copy only
ISBN: 978-1582463537, 1582463530
The Boy Who Loved Words
by Roni Schotter
Teacher copy only
ISBN: 978-0375836015, 0375836012
The Incredible Book Eating Boy
by Oliver Jeffers,
Teacher copy only
ISBN: 978-0399247491, 0399247491
Thank You, Mr. Falker
by Patricia Polacco
Teacher copy only
ISBN: 978-0399237324, 0399237321
The Librarian of Basra
by Jeanette Winter
One per student
ISBN: 978-0152054458, 0152054456
Rain School
by James Rumford
One per student
ISBN: 978-0547243078, 0547243073
My Librarian Is a Camel: How Books Are Brought to Children around the World
by Margriet Ruurs
Teacher copy only
ISBN: 978-1590780930, 1590780930

Texts included in the unit

Texts that are included in the lesson materials.

Cover Text Quantity Publisher
“Physical Environments around the World,”
by Expeditionary Learning
“One Boy’s Book Drive,” Boy’s Quest
by Loralee Leavitt


ELA G3:M1:U1:L11

End-of-Unit Assessment

Optional Activities

Visit local and school libraries, or history museums with a focus on U.S. history and segregation.

Learn from people who have traveled to other countries and encountered reading superheroes (e.g., teachers who have worked abroad, Peace Corps volunteers, etc).

Research about countries mentioned in reading; locating countries on a map.

Students create portraits of reading superheroes, or portray themselves as reading superheroes.

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