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.
Throughout this post you can click on book covers to learn more about them.
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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.
The Pain and the Great One
I am the Dog. I am the Cat
Shark vs. Train
Cats vs. Dogs
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 three that most students tend to be familiar with.
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.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
You can grab a free book vs. movie comparison sheet in this blog post.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
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 are a third grade teacher 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.
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).
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.
These graphic organizers can be found in this free download on Teachers Pay Teachers. I also have a set of reading response sheets and graphic organizers that you might enjoy. You can click on either of the pictures below to learn more. The magnifying glass will make the image larger. The arrow will take you to the correct link.
Do you have any books you love for teaching students to compare and contrast? Let me know in the comments!