Learner Profile Booklist – Lower Primary Collection
Learner Profile Booklist – Lower Primary Collection
Maggie Hos-McGrane
4 min read

Even as students at this age are growing in confidence by reading to themselves, studies have shown that reading aloud is the single most important activity that adults can do to ensure students’ literacy and reading success. This is because children in the lower primary years often have a “listening level” that is much greater than their reading level and therefore when we read aloud to them, we are able to engage them with vocabulary and concepts that they would find hard to read themselves.

The attributes of the learner profile are often quite challenging for lower primary students to understand. Therefore, when we read stories aloud, complex ideas become more accessible to them as opposed to students reading them independently. Discussions and questions about the book will promote comprehension and high-level thinking.

Many of you across the world are likely teaching remotely at the moment. The good news is that the joy of reading does not need to stop in this medium of learning. Stay tuned till the end of the blog for some tips on keeping reading going in the remote learning environment.

My approach while creating this booklist

As I compiled my list of recommended books to support the different attributes of the learner profile in lower primary students, I tried to find books that would address some of the common issues that children of this age face.

In this list, you will find stories that talk about migration – relevant to children in international schools who move frequently. I have included books from various countries like Korea, China, Palestine, Nigeria and Mexico to name just a few. These also include retellings of traditional folk tales.

Many of these books also support discussions about the Approaches to Learning, in particular – the self-management skills. I have also introduced several non-fiction books into these lists: these include letters, biographies and memoirs. In conclusion, I added books written by authors that I know are willing to do school visits – even international school visits, such as Jacqueline Woodson. Meeting an author in person can be a wonderful experience for students everywhere, it increases their interest in reading and helps them appreciate books.

Many of these books are also available on YouTube as read alouds, in case you don’t have a physical copy.

Classroom strategies to use this booklist

The books listed here are suitable for students to read by themselves as well as for read alouds in classrooms. To create an environment suitable for read- alouds, set up a reading ambience with flexible seating, cosy reading spaces, a rug and some pillows. Set up these books on a display that is inviting and pleasing to look at. As well as encouraging students to read independently, it is just as important for teachers to read aloud in order to develop listening skills and to encourage visual memory.

Remember that even books that are too “old” for a child to read independently are ones that you can use for read-alouds. For example, stories written for 4th graders are usually enjoyed by 5 and 6 year olds during read-alouds. Some children like to revisit books because of special reasons, use this opportunity to read-aloud from books that they enjoyed when they were younger.

Things to try!

  • To encourage students to develop a love of reading themselves, it’s important for them to see their teachers as role models – adults who are enthusiastic about reading. Children are easily inspired by books and adults who love books!
  • Read the stories with animated expressions in order to draw students in. Pause often to ensure students understand the story and to see if they have any questions.
  • Plan to ask both explicit and implicit thought-provoking questions, and encourage discussion of these questions among your students.
  • Have a healthy mix of both fiction and non-fiction for read-alouds.
  • Intentionally plan for your read-aloud sessions – don’t just use them to fill up 5 minutes at the end of an activity, add thought and creativity when you plan for a read-aloud session.

If you’re teaching remotely –

  • Everything stated above applies to the remote learning context too! Model reading with expression and excitement.
  • Keep read alouds alive by using features like Toddle’s audio and video recording features. Hearing your voice can help students feel more connected to you and engaged in their learning.
  • Continue asking provocation and thinking questions to your students about the read aloud, in the remote medium too- You could interject questions within your read aloud or alternatively, you could include questions below your audio note and start a class discussion for students to write their thoughts on or even share picture responses to.

Post reading challenges for your class and have lively discussions on the book! You can use Toddle’s classroom assignment and discussion features to ask the class questions or even ask students to complete tasks independently. 

I hope you have a great time reading with and for your lower primary students. The joy of reading is best built young and likely to be carried through life. This book list and accompanying strategies is a small effort to kindle that passion for reading, in our lower primary students.

Inquirers

Izzy Gizmo
This story is told in rhymes. Izzy is a young inventor, though her inventions don’t always work. Discouraged, she puts her toolbox away, however she then finds a crow with a broken wing that the vet tells her will never fly again. Grandpa encourages her to come up with the perfect wings for the bird. This is a great book to encourage girls with technology.
By Pip Jones
Are You A Horse?
Roy receives a saddle for his birthday, but he doesn’t know what it is or what to do with it. He goes on a journey to find a horse and meets various creatures who give him clues to help him find out what a horse is.
By Andy Rash
Starry Messenger
A beautiful picture book that includes text from Galileo’s journals. It tells the story of Galileo’s scientific mind and his discovery that the Earth was not the centre of the universe. The book is a great way to combine science, history and literature.
By Peter Sis
Around The World: Who’s Been Here?
A teacher goes on a cruise around the world and documents all the animals and their habitats that she encounters by sending letters to her class.
By Lindsay Barrett George

Communicators

Dear Juno
This is the story of a Korean-American boy who gets a letter from his grandma. He cannot read Korean, but learns there are different ways to communicate, through items and pictures. When she wants him to know she is coming for a visit, she sends him a miniature plane.
By Soyung Pak
Sitti’s Secrets
When Mona goes to visit her grandma in Palestine, she has to communicate via her father, and through mime. When she gets home she writes a letter to the president about how she wants peace in the region.
By Naomi Shihab Nye
My Mouth Is A Volcano!
Louis has a problem interrupting people while they are talking. Eventually he realises how this impacts others when his classmates interrupt him during a school presentation. This is a great story to teach about respect and social skills.
By Julia Cook
I Speak English For My Mom
Lupe and her mother Rosa move to Chicago. Rosa gets a job in a factory where she can speak Spanish, and Lupe translates for her mother at other times where she has to speak English. Eventually Rosa decides to learn English so she can get a new job.
By Muriel Stanek

Caring

Exclamation Mark
Exclamation mark is sad that he is different from the other punctuation marks. He tries to fit in and eventually the Question mark helps him to realise that he has unique abilities and can be loved for them.
By Amy Krouse Rosenthal
The Invisible Boy
Nobody ever notices Brian, a quiet boy who loves drawing. He feels lonely, however when a new Korean boy, Justin, joins the class, Brian sends him a note after the other children laugh at his lunch. The other students learn that how we treat others can impact us all.
By Trudy Ludwig
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
Wilfred, a young boy, befriends the residents of a nursing home next door to his house and helps 96 year old Miss Nancy, one of the residents, to find her memories again.
By Mem Fox
What Can I Do Today?
A child’s lemonade stand, set up to raise money for charity, provides the starting point of a chain of random acts of kindness which can change many lives.
By Allison Scoutland

Balanced

Greedy Triangleo
This book is about the importance of being true to yourself. A triangle goes to a shapeshifter because he is bored with his shape. He keeps adding more and more sides to try to have more fun, but in the end he discovers he likes being a triangle after all.
By Marilyn Burns
A Child’s Garden
A young boy in a refugee camp grows a vine up the barbed wire fence to create a place where other children can come and play together. Even though soldiers cut down the vine, in the spring new shoots appear.
By Michael Foreman
Happy Ever After
Snow White loves painting pictures, but whenever she starts she always has to stop and help someone. The magic mirror helps her to realise that sometimes she has to say no and take care of herself and her own needs first.
By Tony Bradman
The Pain And The Great One
A book about sibling rivalry told from the perspective of both the older sister who believes her younger brother gets away with too much, and the younger brother who thinks his big sister is loved because she is smart and responsible.
By Judy Blume

Reflective

Of Thee I Sing
This is Barack Obama’s letter to his daughters in which he reflects on thirteen people who have inspired others and made a difference in people’s lives. The message is that everyone has the power to pursue their dreams.
By Barack Obam
Frog Is Fro
Frog wants to be able to do the same things as his friends, however all his attempts end in failure. After reflecting on this, Frog comes to understand that his friends love him for who he is. The message is that we need to be happy with who we are and not compare ourselves to those around us.
By Max Velthuijs
The Matchbox Diary
A man reflects on his migration to America to his great-granddaughter using the small objects he collected and stored in matchboxes before he could read and write. The entire book is told in dialogue.
By Paul Fleischman
It’s Going To Be Perfect
The narrator is sure that life with a new baby will be perfect - but the reality is somewhat different. This book is about a mother and her daughter reflecting on the various stages of growing up, and how things can be wonderful even if they are not always perfect.
By Nancy Carlson

Open minded

The Other Side
Clover, a young black girl, wondered why her mother told her not to go on the other side of the fence where a white family lives. Clover questions racism and prejudice and decides she is open to meeting new people and that she will have a conversation with Annie when she looks over the fence.
By Jacqueline Woodson
Gregory Cool
Gregory was sent to Tobago to spend the summer with his grandparents. He found it too hot and the food too spicy. After a trip to the beach with his cousin, Gregory starts to admire Tobago and the carefree lifestyle there.
By Caroline Binch
Rose Meets Mr.Wintergarten
Rose and her family move to a new house next door to a scruffy old man. All the children are afraid of him. One day Rose loses her ball in Mr Wintergarten’s garden. She and her mother decide to take him some cakes and flowers. Mr Wintergarten turns out not to be so bad,
By Bob Graham
Henry And The Kite Dragon
Henry enjoys building kites with Grandfather Chin, but a gang of boys throw stones at them to destroy them. Henry eventually finds out the reason why: the kites are scaring away the homing pigeons. The two groups eventually come to a compromise about when the kites can be flown.
By Bruce Edward Hall

Principled

Jamaica’s Find
Jamaica finds a stuffed dog in the park. She takes it home and shows her family, however her family are not happy and she feels guilty, so she decides to return it to the park ranger so that the rightful owner can find it. While doing this she meets Kristen, the girl who has lost the toy.
By Juanita Havi
The Empty Pot
The Chinese emperor wants to choose his successor and decides to test all the children by giving them a seed to grow - the child who grows the best flower will succeed him. Ping is unable to get his seed to grow so he brings the empty pot back to the emperor and finds that his honesty is rewarded.
By Demi
Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse
Lilly takes her new purse to school to show everyone, but as she refuses to follow instructions to wait, the teacher takes it from her. She does eventually get it back - and with a treat inside - but first she learns about being considerate of others and dealing with strong feelings.
By Kevin Henkes
Arthur’s Classroom Fib
After the holidays, Arthur’s teacher asks the class to write about what they did over the summer. Arthur hears about all the exciting things the other students did and feels he has to make his summer sound more interesting than it was. He has to decide whether to lie or tell the truth about what did happen over the holidays.
By Marc Brown

Risk takers

The Tunnel
Jack and his sister Rose spend a day together in the park, where Jack discovers a mysterious tunnel which he crawls into. When he doesn’t return, Rose has to crawl into the tunnel to find him, and ends up in a magical forest.
By Anthony Browne
Emmanuel’s Dream
This is the true story of a disabled boy who cycled 400 miles around Ghana in 10 days and proved that being different is an opportunity. He goes on to become an activist for the rights of disabled people.
By Laurie Ann Thompson
The Little Refugee
This is the true story of a family’s escape from Vietnam by fishing boat, their rescue at sea and the challenges they faced as refugees in their new life in Australia.
By Anh Do And Suzanne Do
Sebastian’s Roller Skates
Sebastian is very shy and even though he knows a lot he is too shy to say anything in school. This changes when he finds a pair of roller skates and learns to skate, and is then able to catch a runaway dog. After this he becomes more confident in other areas of his life.
By Joan de Déu Prats

Thinkers

Mom And Dad Glue
This poem follows a boy whose parents are getting divorced. It portrays the emotions and thoughts from the perspective of the child as he struggles to come to terms with separation and searches for a “glue” that will mend his family.
By Kes Gray
Dogs’ Night
This book is set in the National Gallery in London where the dogs can come out of the paintings and party on one night every year. Unfortunately at the end of the night, some dogs end up in the wrong paintings and have to think what to do until the next Dog’s Night.
By Meredith Hooper
Ada Twist, Scientist
Ada Twist doesn’t speak until she is three, but then her scientific curiosity leads her to question, hypothesise and experiment to discover how the world works. Ada’s parents are very supportive and understand the need to encourage their daughter’s interests and talents.
By Andrea Beaty
I Will Never Not Ever Eat A Tomato
Lola is a fussy eater and her brother Charlie has to work out how he can get her to eat up her dinner. Charlie uses his imagination to invent new names and stories about the vegetables, so that eventually Lola eats them.
By Lauren Child

Knowledgeable

Me… Jane
This book tells the story of Jane Goodall’s childhood, how she became an observer of animals - including some of her childhood sketches - and how after being given a toy chimpanzee she dreamed of going to Africa and helping animals.
By Patrick McDonnell
One Grain Of Rice
This retelling of an Indian folktale is the story of Rani, a young woman who tricks a selfish Raja into giving her thirty days of rice during a famine. Using her knowledge of multiplication, Rani is able to ensure that nobody goes hungry.
By Demi
Amadi’s Snowman
Amadi, a young boy from Nigeria, doesn’t see the point of learning to read until he finds an older boy in the village reading about a snowman. He becomes intrigued by the book and interested in learning how to read.
By Katia Novet Saint-Lot
The Boy Who Was Raised By Librarians
Melvin is a curious boy who spends every day after school in the local library. The three librarians there help to inspire him and help with his research about the world around him.
By Carla Morris

Maggie has been an educator for over 30 years, 25 of these in international schools in Europe and Asia. She has taught students from age 3 to 18 in the IB PYP, MYP and DP programmes and is also an IB consultant, school visitor and workshop leader, facilitating both online, face-to-face regional workshops and in-school workshops. Maggie has presented at international conferences including ISTE, Learning2, ECIS, AASSA and EARCOS, in Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South America. She is passionate about the power of coaching to transform teaching and learning in schools. Maggie is a Google Innovator and has published several books about digital citizenship and technology integration as well as a recent book about coaching your colleagues in school. Maggie’s blog, Tech Transformation, has been read by over a million educators worldwide. In 2012 Maggie was recognized as one of the 365 heroes of education by Anthony Salcito, the Vice-President of Worldwide Education at Microsoft.

Disclaimer - The ideas and resources presented in this blog have been developed independently from and are not endorsed by the International Baccalaureate (IB).
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