In Tia Isa Wants a Car and A Chair for My Mother, kids work towards earning money for a goal. Although they are very different stories, the goals of the main characters make them perfect for a lesson in comparing and contrasting. The ultimate goal setting lesson from these books is also a great character development topic for my young readers!

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In Tia Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina, the girl and her aunt save money. In A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams, a girl and her mother save money to buy her mother a soft armchair, because the furniture they had in their home has burned in a fire. From that preliminary summary, the similarities are obvious!

I really like these two books for a few reasons. Both kids help their older guardian by working hard! The items they want are not necessities but are desired for a good reason. These books show kids how perseverance pays off in the end, and how desired items are not always a luxury. I love how they saw incremental growth and then joined their older guardian (aunt and mother) for the ultimate purchase. Besides that, both books portray cultures different from the white middle class so prevalent in picture books.

In my reading and writing co-op class, my goal has been to help the kids learn to read a book beyond just reading it! I want them to recognize the story arc, and hopefully compare it to ones we have already read. I want them to read something and notice the evidence in the text that give it meaning. We've read two similar stories and compared and contrasted them. For my class, I used these books with a Venn Diagram, a writing outline page, and then a finally "composition" writing page. I also gave the kids the option of comparing one of the books to themselves, although none of my kids took me up on the offer.

Do any of my students work for something like the characters in these books work for something? How can I teach my children, at least, to appreciate what he has and work hard? These are questions to ponder as I parent.

I invited the kids to choose their own books to compare and contrast. Since I created blank template pages for this activity, here they are for your convenience! See also some of the other custom templates I made for comparing and contrasting specific books.

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You may also want to use these templates to compare and contrast the following books:

  • Enemy Pie by Derek Munson and My Rotten Red-Headed Older Brother by Patricia Pollacco
  • My Name is Maria Isabel by Alma Flor Ad and The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi and Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

Get the blank template when you sign up to become a Line upon Line Learning VIP.

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