Slam Dunk Literacy: Pairing Picture Books with Reading Response Graphic Organizers

What’s so powerful about integrating picture books into your lesson plans? Of course, it helps expand reading abilities and increase vocabulary but, beyond that, it unlocks students’ imaginations to enhance literacy skills. We can use this interest and draw them further into the story with reading response graphic organizers

Reading response graphic organizers work wonders because they are concise and easy for students to use to put what they’ve learned into practice. Ease of use coupled with interest creates a smooth path toward deepening reading comprehension — thanks to fully engaged kids. 

It can feel tedious figuring out how to apply reading activities with graphic organizers. Particularly, when you’re trying to capture a specific skill after reading a book. Thankfully, I’ve got an easy step-by-step process that makes integrating independent reading response activities second nature. 

To take you into the step-by-step process, let’s explore how we can use basketball read-alouds for kids and pick the right reading response ideas.

| Searching for no prep reading response activities? Check out this bundle of 90 Reading Response Printables for Any Book!

Step 1: Choose the Perfect Book

{Disclaimer: Amazon Affiliate links have been used below but I only share items I use and enjoy!}

You can start by selecting a picture book that resonates with your students. For the sake of staying on theme, we are going to focus on the best basketball picture books

Favorite basketball themed picture books.

Whether it’s a story about teamwork, perseverance, or overcoming challenges on the court, choose a book that will inspire and engage your readers. I’ll use basketball-themed books in this post, but this process can be used with any read-aloud.

Here’s the list of some of my favorite basketball-themed picture books that will be discussed:

You can find the full book list linked on Amazon here.

Step 2: Identify Reading Comprehension Skills

Swish basketball picture book with a notebook of reading response graphic organizers printables

Before reading the book with students, peruse the book. Pay close attention to the reading comprehension skills that stand out or that you need to focus on. Use sticky notes to jot down key concepts. 

Think about key concepts that lend themselves to deeper analysis and discussion such as:

  • Character traits
  • Story elements
  • Vocabulary words 
  • Plot events 

This is of course not a comprehensive list, but a start. These sticky notes will help you narrow your focus and choose the right reading response graphic organizer.

Step 3: Select Reading Response Graphic Organizers

Choosing reading response graphic organizers for your picture book.

Now it’s time to choose a reading response graphic organizer. I like to keep a notebook of reading response printables on hand so that I can pull them out at any time. Find the printable that best aligns with the identified reading comprehension skill. 

Whether it’s a character analysis, story map, cause and effect chart, or writing a summary, choose a tool that will scaffold students’ understanding of the text while also enhancing their critical thinking skills.

Step 4: Model Thinking Aloud

Before diving into the read-aloud with students, take a moment to explain to students what the comprehension focus will be for the text. Give them the target comprehension skills.

Now it’s time to read! 

Use sticky notes to help model how to think deeper while reading a text.

Engage students while reading in a collaborative discussion about the book. Encourage students to share their thoughts and model how to think deeper as they are reading. 

If you are using an anchor chart, this is the perfect time to incorporate it. Or if you’re using a document camera and projector, you can use sticky notes directly on the book — as shown in the image above.

Step 5: Students Respond to the Text

Now that we’ve modeled critical thinking, discussed the book, and engaged with the comprehension skill, students can respond to the text. We’ve done the groundwork, now students have the chance to show their understanding of both the text and the comprehension strategy. Let’s use the book Salt in His Shoes as an example, a story about Michael Jordan’s childhood.

Salt in His shoes book paired with the Describe the Character reading response graphic organizer

We can focus on identifying the character traits of Michael Jordan while we are reading. Some topics of discussion can be how he was persistent and patient, or his determination and grit. 

Then, students will identify 6 character traits on their own using a character trait graphic organizer. But, they aren’t just guessing. They are using the tools that we provided during the read-aloud to respond to the text.

More Basketball Books and Activities

Here’s a look at additional basketball-themed picture books and how I would apply reading response graphic organizers based on the identified skills from the story. If you’re interested in additional basketball-themed activities, check out this basketball graphing activity!

Hoop Genius with Ordering Story Events

hOy5d rh46bojMzs7jl3ExjOB eRx WqUGNy5WC2QDSDQvBt4a2GHyKsoHbxXduGCY4cVClTdNgXjd6ziQa3GQfEiepEVED8

Hoop Genius tells the story of how James Naismith came to create one of the world’s most beloved sports. It shares his highs and his lows. Pair this story with sequencing skills. After the read-aloud, students piece together the events in the order they occurred. They highlight the important events that led up to the creation of basketball.

Allie’s Basketball Dream with Summarizing

HQiSlN0ZzwLrLSPTsgkongIywfdbBDRY2w5NGNL9wd8TsGbiZ6NGd3Ihu3KC iTWOok7aBbMth4G p2Og

In Allie’s Basketball Dream, you will meet a determined young girl who has a passion for basketball. You’ll see how she went from dreaming about playing to hitting the court. With this fictional text, students can summarize the events from the story. Allie wanted to play basketball, but things did not come easily for her. She kept persevering until she finally found some success on the court!

Swish with Main Idea and Details

zFFEV0mSSmtDjEE8mimYgMCSLSO HEpuzg6b Q5XTQ DYlCnlB5YBj3XTZcmv9P6PiHGM2cnikRidSI5bd7Jbhu3WJwvOzJqJF6SAt7YGXziz7NIezrMT0QmnDciqGqa6mib0Hh3H55PLwPoeHL Bds

Have you ever heard the background story of the Harlem Globetrotters? Swish is a fresh take on basketball stories! Behind all of the ball handling, jumping tricks, and slam dunks, there is an inspiring story about how one team changed the trajectory of basketball for ALL players. 

Pair this story with the skill of identifying the main idea and details. Students will see that their journey to playing professional basketball paved the way for generations to come!

Basketball Belles with Main Purpose

y 0LJuWF69kloFaTH9o9ENV1yj7ubG QmWMmUNaqQ86qNN7NMV72iS rFUGWWlIi4pUkrf 2dsTG9Pm2HuPS2CszcheFXriN6KZwZpaGH42YpD2SlG5wpR6s rQa8hedrPp6iiB5Qun00 yOBaXcs2Q

In this inspiring Narrative Nonfiction book Basketball Belles, we follow the journey of Agnes Morley. She was a trailblazing athlete who challenged gender norms to pursue her passion for basketball. As students dive into her story, they will explore the text’s main purpose – to celebrate resilience, determination, and the pioneering spirit of female athletes. By understanding the author’s purpose behind the text, we will deepen our appreciation for the story and its significance!

Dream Big with The Lesson

CFsJhp9Kng6pjONVlXrU6u5d3R0wVe5jG nkrUDMbu DeQEeiif1BS3QkG 4OKVNoU6L0O cYJWRHnIHfpIJtIGDjH vGsuFESUkGDLJ7KbYNmzPt5vDBOcasyC 4L2LgiL1u71B8TbTC0DQ198pfCU

With any of the books that I have mentioned in this post, you can focus on identifying the lesson that students learned after reading. They will consistently see a theme of perseverance and determination. Michael Jordan’s story is a perfect example of that. Dream Big showcases Michael’s dreams of becoming a professional athlete. You experience his perseverance as he never gave up on those dreams.

Don’t forget these steps for pairing a picture book with reading response graphic organizers, save the image below for later!

11 Basketball Books and Reading Response

Hi, I'm Amy

Hey, y’all! My name is Amy Lemons and I am passionate about providing students with both engaging and effective standards-based Math and ELA lessons.


Sample a day of Rooted in Reading with these lesson plans and activities for Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary, and Grammar!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.