Text copyright © 2018 by Paul Czajak. Illustrations copyright © 2018 by Rashin Kheiriyeh. Images reproduced with permission of the publisher, Barefoot Books.

For Elementary Readers

The Book Tree

After the mayor declares books dangerous and rips up every book in town, a young boy named Arlo discovers how to grow them.

Apply in the Classroom

The Book Tree explores the importance of the written word and what happens to a community when books are banished. Get students thinking and talking about all the places reading happens and why words are important in your community. Design a walking field trip together to explore and Read Across your neighborhood! Ask a local restaurant, theater, library, health center, and others to host your students, discuss why words (in all different languages) matter, and read aloud. If distances are too great, recreate your neighborhood with stations set up by local businesses or organizations throughout your school or school grounds. Conclude your Read Across adventure with:

  • the dedication of a neighborhood tree as your community’s Book Tree
  • a reading of The Book Tree under your Book Tree
  • decorating the tree with colorful hanging tags featuring titles and authors of readers’ favorite books.

Questions for Discussion or Reflective Writing

Where are some places that you like to read?

Why are books and stories important?

What would a world without books be like?

If someone told you that you couldn’t read something or talk about an idea, what would you do?

If you planted a book tree, what kinds of books would you try to grow?

Related Teaching Resources

Inspire student writing and “book gardening” with Rashin Kheiriyeh

The Book Tree Resources from Wander, Ponder, Write

Kwame Alexander, Gene Luen Yang, Jesse Holland and NEA President Lily Eskelsen García create a poem about books

More Titles to Try

Bookjoy Wordjoy by Pat Mora

How to Read a Book by Kwame Alexander

Hooray for Books! by Brian Won

I Am A Story by Dan Yaccarino

The Mermaid’s Purse by Patricia Polacco

More