One More Sensational Summer Read Aloud!

For the last installment in our series on Sensational Summer Read Alouds, literacy expert Jaclyn DeForge shares one final title that has a high student-interest level, can be used to hit multiple Common Core learning standards, and is super rich in terms of content, just like A Full Moon is Rising and Silent Star.

Balarama: A Royal ElephantToday’s Pick: Balarama: A Royal Elephant

Written & Illustrated by: Ted & Betsy Lewin

Genre: narrative nonfiction

Hook: India! Elephants! Parades!


Another two for one: this narrative nonfiction travelogue can be used to tackle both literature and informational text standards. The Lewins also include maps and information about the royal elephants of the Dasara celebration in the city of Mysore.

A few ways to focus a Read Aloud:

  • Understanding Genre/Author’s Craft: This text is an example of narrative nonfiction. What are some elements of narrative that you can find in the text? What are some elements of informational text that you can find in the text? (Grades 3-5, Literature & Informational Text, Craft and Structure, 5) 
  • Text structure: How do both the nonfiction text features and the illustrations help you understand the information presented in the text? (Grades 2-4, Information Text, Craft and Structure, 4)



  • Research Asian elephants. Research African elephants. Compare and contrast the two. How do their adaptations (trunk, tusks, size, etc) help them survive? Why are elephants endangered? What is being done to protect the elephants?
  • Field trip idea: Visit the local zoo. Without looking at any of the visitor information, try to identify whether the elephants are Asian or African by looking at their physical features.

Social Studies:

  • Research the regions of India mentioned in the text. Compare and contrast these regions of India to your neighborhood (think climate, culture, customs, etc). Research the holiday of Dasara. Identify information that you learned that was different from what you learned in the book.

Writing Prompts:

  • If you could take a trip anywhere in the world and write a book about it, where would you go? Research that place and write a piece in the narrative style of Ted and Betsy Lewin, pretending as if you had taken the trip and are writing about your experience.

For a complete list of Sensational Summer Read Alouds, or for information about building classroom libraries that meet the needs of your students, drop me an email at!

One thought on “One More Sensational Summer Read Aloud!”

Comments are closed.