Choosing what those read-aloud selections should be for the start of the school year is always an important (sometimes agonizing!) decision. For 2nd grade I selected Dick King-Smith's Lady Lollipop, a story about a spoiled princess named Penelope who wants (and gets) a pig for her birthday. No ordinary pig, Lollipop comes with a pig keeper, Johnny Skinner, who helps Princess Penelope learn proper behavior as he works with the girl and the pig. The children gasp with incredulity when Princess Penelope talks back to her parents and throws tantrums, but they smile when she smiles tenderly at Johnny Skinner and starts to behave civilly.
For 3rd graders, I chose one of my favorite school books: The SOS File by Betsy Byars, Betsy Duffey, and Laurie Myers. The book begins with a file folder announcing an extra credit assignment in which students can write about a time when they desperately needed help. Some of the stories are hilarious. Some are poignant. Some are quite sad. We began with the story of a girl's failed attempt to race her go-kart down a hill with her friend, and the students' eyes widen as they anticipate what might happen to them. Their faces show surprise and elation during the second story when a boy's unbelievable hit during a baseball game cancels out his need for an SOS.
I know after two chapters that I have their attention for the entirety of both books!