Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Will You Be My Valentine? by Steven Kroll - Teaching Ideas

This book has been a favorite of mine for many years. My daughter always thought she looked like Gretchen and just recently when I pulled it out she grabbed it, hugged it and said, "I remember this book, I love this book!" She stopped doing her homework to reread the story. How powerful is that? A picture book bringing back such memories and making you want to stop what you are doing to read and wonderful! I hope you are creating those lasting memories with your kids!

This is a great book for Valentine's Day {not just because of the name} but because it focuses in on feelings. Here, Thomas R*E*A*L*L*Y likes Gretchen, but Gretchen won't ever play with him at school. The week before Valentine's Day all the kids pull names out of a hat so they can make a special valentine for that person. Thomas is SOOOO excited that he pulled Gretchen's name he goes home after school and immediately starts to make her valentine. As the week goes on and he tries to get her to play with him, he finally decides that she doesn't like him! When he gets home from school he throws her valentine in the trash!! Finally, mom decides to step in, she invites Gretchen over for a play date. Oh boy, what fun they had. How does Gretchen feel about Thomas now? Will Thomas make Gretchen a special valentine? I hope you are so intrigued that you get this book and read it with your kids, they will love it, I promise!

Here is a bit more information about the book that might be helpful if you decide to extend your reading.

Reading level: 2.5
Theme: friendship, relationships, holiday
Genre: holiday

Suggested Vocabulary: announcement, smooshed, bangs, wastebasket, scrunched, plopped, exchange, stalked

Reading skills and strategies:
  • asking questions - {before} Why did the author write this story? Why was Gretchen Thomas' favorite girl? Did Gretchen like Thomas as much as he liked her? {during} Why won't Gretchen play with Thomas? How come Gretchen doesn't like to play with boys? Why does Thomas's mom want to invite Gretchen over to play? Why is Thomas so mad at the Valentine party? Why is Gretchen ignoring Thomas at the Valentine party? {after} Does Gretchen like to play with boys now? Will Gretchen play with Thomas at school? {worksheet included in packet}
  • author's point of view - 3rd person, the narrator is telling the story
  • author's purpose - entertain
  • beginning, middle, end - {beg} It is almost Valentine's Day and there is going to be a party in Thomas's classroom. He picks Gretchen's name of the hat. He goes home and starts to make her a special Valentine's Day card. {mid} Gretchen is mean to Thomas at school and wont play with him. Thomas throws her valentine away. Thomas's mom invites Gretchen over to play and they have a great time. {end} Thomas finishes Gretchen's valentine and tries to give it to her at the valentine party. Harrison gives Gretchen a valentine and Thomas gets upset. Gretchen finally goes to Thomas and gives him a special valentine and he gives her the special valentine that he made. {worksheet included in packet}
  • cause and effect - Why was Thomas so happy to have pulled Gretchen's name from the hat? because he really liked her. Why didn't Gretchen like Thomas? because she didn't like to do any of the things he liked to do like build towers, finger paint and play in the sandbox. Why was Thomas so upset? because Gretchen told him that she doesn't like to play with boys. Why did Thomas throw away Gretchen's valentine? because he thought she didn't like him.  Why did Gretchen and Thomas have a good fun at Thomas's house? because they did things together that they both wanted to do. Why did Thomas take the valentine out of the trash can? because he had a good time with Gretchen and he thought she finally liked him. Why was Thomas so upset at the Valentine's Day party? because he was supposed to give Gretchen a valentine, not Harrison. Why did Thomas not want to eat his cookies and punch? because he was so upset about Harrison giving Gretchen a valentine. Why was Gretchen's valentine to Thomas a secret valentine? because they were only supposed to give a valentine to the person whose name they drew from hat and she didn't draw Thomas's name.
  • characterization - describe Thomas, describe Gretchen {worksheet included in packet}
  • compare & contrast - compare and contrast Thomas and Gretchen. compare and contrast you with either Gretchen or Thomas. {worksheet included in packet}
  • connections - {text-to-self connections} - your student will probably have many connections to Thomas and Gretchen and Valentine's Day. {text-to-text connection} this is a perfect book to connect with Froggy's First Kiss. They both like a girl, the both think that girls is the best in the class, they both play on the playground, they both want to be the girls valentine, both stories take place in school. {worksheet included in packet}
  • predict - Why do you think Thomas was "so happy he couldn't speak"? Why do you think Gretchen didn't like to build block towers, or finger paint, or play in the sandbox? {worksheet included in packet}
  • problem & solution - the problem is that Thomas likes Gretchen but she doesn't seem to like him. They have a great play date and then Harrison give Gretchen a valentine. Thomas gets upset, but Gretchen finally comes over to give Thomas a special valentine.
  • sequencing - put the most important events in order. Thomas picks Gretchen. Gretchen is mean to Thomas. Thomas throws valentine away. Gretchen and Thomas have a play date. They have fun playing together. Thomas finishes valentine. Gretchen gets a valentine from Harrison. Thomas is upset. Gretchen give Thomas a special valentine. Thomas and Gretchen are each others valentine.
  • story elements - setting, characters, beginning, middle, end, plot, genre.
  • summarize - {someone} Thomas {wanted} to be Gretchen's valentine {but} she was mean to him {so} he threw the valentine away {but}they had a fun play date {then} he finished his valentine to give to her and when he tried to give it to her  Harrison already gave her a valentine {finally} Gretchen came over and gave Thomas a special valentine.

I have created a packet of reading skills and strategies worksheets as well as some Language Arts and Math games, activities and fun stuff to put in centers. These are simply review and practice for you kids!
Reading worksheets.

Language Arts activities, fun stuff & games.

Math activities, fun stuff & games.
You can find this packet in my TpT store or Teachers Notebook store.

Happy Valentine's Day!


  1. Thank you so much for this review! I just discovered this book in some of the things that my mom gave me when she retired. Your review, questions, and unit are perfect!

    First Grade Magic

    1. Oh yeah! I am so glad you have the book and that this info will be helpful!

  2. Shawna,
    Have I told you lately how AWESOME you are!!!
    Every time I come take a peak at your blog you have the most amazing information. So thorough and thoughtful! I want to go find this book before Tuesday to read to my class! It sounds great!
    Talk to you soon-
    Miss S
    Just Teaching...Kindergarten

  3. Hey Miss S,
    Thank you for the incredible compliment, it really is my goal to help teachers out buy providing the tools they need to use picture books in their teaching. If you are finding the info useful than I have succeeded!
    Happy Valentine's Day!


Thoughts and comments are always welcome!

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