Book of the Week: Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here

Every Monday, I highlight a book from our school bookroom along with lesson plan suggestions.

Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here, by Jean Craighead George

I suppose this post has a bit of a Christmas in July feel, seeing as how most of the country is crazy-hot and humid. If you need to cool down, you can preview the book here at Google Books. As you’ll learn, winter actually began June 21, according to Grandma’s character.

This book is written in a letter format, and I could see it working well with The Gardener, by Sarah Stewart. I also received a great tip from Ohio teacher Ms. LaCrosse that Jean Craighead George books are a pretty great resource for folks looking to integrate science into their literacy block.

Scholastic has leveling information, and a quick search brings up all sorts of resources connecting this book to the winter solstice.  I plan on using this with our weather unit this fall. There’s a Reading Rainbow episode called Snowy Day: Stories and Poems, and a good supplemental lesson plan with several other suggested books can be found here.

There is a CAFE menu included with this mentor text, and I’ve highlighted these as suggestions:


  • Check for understanding. If you’ve been teaching students to stop every paragraph or page or so to check for understanding, this could be a good book to help them refine the strategy. The whole book is one letter, so you can’t really stop all the way at the end of the letter (this would be contrast to the multiple letters in The Gardener, because you CAN pause and check for understanding at the end of each letter in that book). But at the same time, if you stopped EVERY page, meaning could actually be LOST because there’s not much text on each page and you’d be pausing in your reading an awful lot.
  • Use text features (titles, headings, captions, graphic features). George has her author’s note right at the front of the book rather than buried at the end. Why do students think she made that choice? The author’s note is brief, clear, and interesting, so copying it for students for a shared read might be a good idea. There’s a master copy of the author’s note already in the book bag if you need it.
  • Use main idea and supporting details to determine importance. About once sentence is on each page, and each section of text is accompanied by a small image. How did the illustrator choose what creature or scene would be featured in that small image? Does it relate to the main idea of the page, or does it illustrate a supporting detail? Maybe break students into pairs and give each pair a different page of the book.


Please add any lessons or supplemental materials to the book bag so future teachers can utilize your good thinking! You can find this text in the red bookroom bucket labeled realistic fiction or narrative nonfiction.

Comments and constructive feedback are always welcomed. Please let me know if these lessons were useful in your class!