Picture Book: Will You Read to Me? by Denys Cazet (Atheneum 2007)
This is a great book to use when discussing character, but it is also chock full of figurative language, which will make it a nice addition to poetry units as well. The story follows Hamlet the pig as he tries to answer the question, “Can there be such a thing as Pigness without the dirt?” Feeling different from the rest of his family, he finds his place in the world by writing (and sharing with others) lovely poems about the beauty in nature. Not a lot of action in this story, but a lot to think and talk about.
Novel: The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley (Scholastic 2001)
This is a book for your dreamers and deep thinkers. The book tells the story of the characters from a book entitled The Great Good Thing. The characters are going along happily at first, reciting their lines when the book is opened and resting and playing while it is closed. When their book is damaged beyond repair, however, they must figure out how to survive in the memory of one of their readers. This story is quite complex, so it will be most appropriate for fifth grade readers. Students will love playing with the idea that their favorite book characters have lives outside of their stories.