Saturday, February 27, 2021

Text Set: Thinking about Main Idea Across Genres

 Texts for this Text Set have been posted daily on Instagram. Follow @TextSets there to get daily updates!

This week, I'll share some books that support beginning conversations around main idea as readers. The concept of main idea is often tricky for young readers and they latch on to one idea instead of reading across an entire text. Hopefully this set of books will help. 

I think the book Me and the World is a great one to introduce the idea of main idea to readers. This is a book filled with incredible infographics about the world. It is one of those books that readers will spend hours with. One challenge for readers is sometimes that main idea is a big idea that spans the ENTIRE text and is an idea that weaves through lots of a book. So, to start with a book with a more obvious main idea will make the idea accessible. Readers can discuss the title as well as detailed patterns they notice in the ways the information works together under a big idea.

Woke: A Young Poet's Call to Justice is a poetry anthology and is another great book for exploring main idea. The book begins with a message from Jason Reynolds and then an introduction by author Mahogany Browne. Discussing these, and the idea of woke is a great way to start this conversation.  Then exploring the ways each poem fits the bigger idea--how does each fit under the main ideas shared in the introduction--will help build understanding that every single piece in an anthology fits the bigger idea of the entire text.

Following Woke, Cast Away by Naomi Shihab Nye is a book that will expand the conversation. In this book the author begins by asking us "How much have you thrown away in your lifetime already? Do you ever think about it? " Each poem fits under the big idea of things we "cast away" and the author looks at this literally and sometimes metaphorically which will add to the conversation and understanding of main idea a bit more.

We Are Kind weaves together two ideas--ways to be kind and how we feel when we are kind.  Discussing the main idea and what the author is telling us about kindness will be a great entry way into the specifics of main idea-- a main idea that goes beyond the single word of kindness. This simple text gives readers so much to explore and discuss.

Our Favorite Day of the Year is a perfect book to use to discuss main idea (after enjoying it and discussing the book on its own of course!).  Often, young readers choose one idea to focus on and decide that is what the book is about. So, this book is a great one to discuss that. In this story, a classroom full of children spend the year celebrating various holidays. Discussing each snippet against the title will help young readers see that each of the holidays fit under a bigger main idea --that the individual holidays were details that helped the author share the main message.

You can get a downloadable pdf of this list at

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