Are you getting ready to teach your students to compare and contrast? It’s very important to have the right materials on hand. Here are some of my favorite books to use when teaching students to compare and contrast.
You can click on any of the titles below to learn more about each book or find all of these books on my Amazon page.
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Books with a Compare and Contrast Text Structure
There are so many books that already have a built-in compare and contrast structure out there, so it only makes sense to share these with your students. Here are a few that I enjoy.
When an eight-year-old girl and her six-year-old brother take turns describing each other, it’s no surprise that “The Pain” and “The Great One” are the nicknames that emerge. As this duo debates whom Mom and Dad love most, their competition becomes increasingly humorous—because when it comes to family affection, there’s no such thing as win or lose.
Distinguished poet Donald Hall and award-winning artist Barry Moser have teamed up to create a hilarious, affectionate portrait in contrasts of our companions, and often best friends, a cat and a dog. With evocative words and masterful paintings, they delineate the doginess and catlike qualities that everyone will recognize.
If you think Superman vs. Batman would be an exciting matchup, wait until you see Shark vs. Train. In this hilarious and wacky picture book, Shark and Train egg each other on for one competition after another, including burping, bowling, Ping Pong, piano playing, pie eating, and many more! Who do YOU think will win, Shark or Train?
Chocolate or vanilla? Creamy peanut butter or crunchy? Cats or dogs? On some matters in life, every kid must take a stance. Ever since the first youngster in history had a pet, cats vs. dogs has been a hotly debated issue at recesses and lunch tables worldwide. Which one’s better? Smarter? This reader presents the facts in fun and informative fashion.
Fairy Tales and Fractured Fairy Tales
I like to use fairy tales because students are usually familiar with them and there are so many varieties of each story out there that lend themselves to comparing and contrasting. For these stories, students can focus on comparing and contrasting the characters, the setting, the plot, and even the illustrations. Some of these fairy tales may also include cultural references. You can choose any fairy tale to use, but here are a few that most students tend to be familiar with.
- Cinderella, a Little Golden Book
- Bigfoot Cinderrrrrella
- Seriously, Cinderella is So Annoying!
- The Rough Face Girl
- Other Versions of Cinderella
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- Goldie Socks and the Three Libearians
- Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
- Believe Me, Goldilocks Rocks!
- Other Versions of Goldilocks and the Three Bears
The Three Little Pigs
- Three Little Pigs, a Little Golden Book
- The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs
- The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig
- The Three Ninja Pigs
- Other Versions of The Three Little Pigs
Books That Have Been Turned Into Movies
I’m not sure how you feel, but the book is almost always better than the movie. However, students may not agree. After reading the book and seeing the movie, there are opportunities for rich conversations. Students can compare and contrast the characters, the setting, the plot, and more! Just make sure you follow your school and district policy about watching movies at school.
The tiny town of Chewandswallow was very much like any other tiny town—except for its weather which came three times a day, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
But it never rained rain and it never snowed snow and it never blew just wind. It rained things like soup and juice. It snowed things like mashed potatoes. And sometimes the wind blew in storms of hamburgers.
Life for the townspeople was delicious until the weather took a turn for the worse. The food got larger and larger and so did the portions. Chewandswallow was plagued by damaging floods and storms of huge food. The town was a mess and the people feared for their lives.
Something had to be done, and in a hurry.
You’ll find several activities to pair with this book in this blog post.
Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last! But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!
Some Pig. Humble. Radiant. These are the words in Charlotte’s Web, high up in Zuckerman’s barn. Charlotte’s spiderweb tells of her feelings for a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. They also express the love of a girl named Fern, who saved Wilbur’s life when he was born the runt of his litter.
Stuart Little is no ordinary mouse. Born to a family of humans, he lives in New York City with his parents, his older brother George, and Snowbell the cat. Though he’s shy and thoughtful, he’s also a true lover of adventure.
Stuart’s greatest adventure comes when his best friend, a beautiful little bird named Margalo, disappears from her nest. Determined to track her down, Stuart ventures away from home for the very first time in his life. He finds adventure aplenty. But will he find his friend?
Be sure to grab this free popcorn craft to help students compare and contrast their favorite book and movie. You’ll also find a list of children’s books that have been turned into movies.
Books in a Series
Once students find a character they love, they become immersed in a book series. This allows students to compare and contrast the way a character behaves when faced with a new challenge. If you teach in a Common Core state, some of these options would be great for tackling RL 3.9, especially with some of your lower readers! Here are some of my favorites for each series below.
This series follows Freddy Thresher from first grade to second grade. He is a shark expert-in-training who has a lot of fears and worries, but also has loyal friends who help him stand up to the class bully. This series is written by Abby Klein.
Magic Tree House
The Magic Tree House series follows Jack and Annie as they learn more about the past through their adventures in a traveling tree house. I love how Mary Pope Osborne keeps the focus on fictional writing, but weaves in a little nonfiction from time to time. Most of the books in the series also have a nonfiction companion for students who want to dive deeper into a subject area.
Junie B. Jones
Junie B. Jones is a bold and unique character written by Barbara Park, who really captures the spirit of a child in a kindergarten and first grade classroom.
- Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus
- Junie B., First Grader (at Last!)
- Junie B. Jones Aloha-ha-ha!
- Junie B. Jones Book Companions
Elephant & Piggie
The Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems follows Gerald (the elephant) and his friend, Piggie, as they tackle topics that young students can easily relate to.
Books by the Same Author
Like books in a series, an author’s style of writing can draw in readers. By reading two or more books by the same author, students can compare and contrast the characters, setting, plot, illustrations, genre, and theme. I’m sharing a few of my favorites from each author below.
When reading books by Kevin Henkes, I love to compare and contrast the characters and the plot of each story.
If you are not familiar with Jan Brett, you need to grab some of her books and really zone in on the illustrations and how they relate to her style of storytelling.
Chris Van Allsburg
For my higher readers, I love using picture books by Chris Van Allsburg. His writing style is so unique and offers a lot of rich conversations.
Other authors you should consider are Patricia Polacco, Jacqueline Woodson, Robert Munsch, and Mo Willems (who has more lovable characters than just Gerald & Piggie).
Did you see a book or two that you like? You can find all of these books on my Amazon page.
Compare and Contrast Graphic Organizers
Now that you have gathered some great texts, it’s time to put these to work. Before you begin, you need to make sure your students know what you are asking them to do. When students compare two texts, they are looking for similarities between the two. When students contrast two texts, they are identifying the differences between the two. Some of the most common ways to help students organize their thinking are with three tools: a Venn Diagram, a T-Chart, and a Double-Bubble Map. My all time favorite is what I call a Box and T-Chart. No matter which graphic organizer you choose, you need to model, model, and model some more before you can expect your students to use them independently.
Here’s an example of a Box and T-Chart. In this example, we compared the two characters from The Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume.
Since there are so many versions of Cinderella out there, we chose a more traditional version of the story and two fractured fairy tale versions. We used a Venn Diagram to compare the three stories. Since this can be tricky, we outlined the different parts of the story with colors to show where the stories overlapped.
Do you have any books you love for teaching students to compare and contrast? Let me know in the comments!