Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon by Patty Lovell - Teaching Ideas

Molly Lou was a lot of things: short, buck toothed, bullfroggie sounding and clumsy, but none of these things stopped her from standing tall, singing loudly and believing in herself. Her grandma taught her that. So when Molly Lou had to start a new school and Ronald Durkin made fun of her, she didn't let him get her down. She showed him that just because she was different she could do some amazing things. She not only ran past Ronald on the football field to score the winning touch down but she balanced pennies on her buck teeth and cut out a beautiful paper snowflake. All these things made mean ole' Ronald Durkin double think how he treated Molly Lou Melon.

This is a great character lesson book with so many wonderful teaching opportunities, not only for character lessons but reading lessons as well. Listed below are reading skills and strategies that work great with this book.

I also created a character analysis FREEBIE to use after reading this book to your kiddos.

Reading level: 3.1
Theme/subject: bullying, confronting fears, school, pride & self esteem
Genre: Realistic fiction

Suggested Vocabulary/phrases: buck teeth, fumble fingered, shrimpo, foolish, glee, revealed

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before} I wonder why Molly Lou Melon must stand tall. I wonder how big Molly Lou Melon really is.  {possible questions during} I wonder why Molly Lou had to move. I wonder how Molly Lou will be treated at her new school. I wonder why Ronald Durkin is being so mean to Molly Lou. {possible questions after} I wonder if Ronald Durkin will bully anyone else.  **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author's point of view – Third. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this (she, her).
  • Author's purpose – entertain/inform {evidence} the illustrations are pretty silly. The author writes about a bully and how Molly Lou handles it. Molly Lou learns a lesson. All these things make an entertaining story that also helps you to learn about bullies and being yourself.
  • Beginning, middle, end - {most important event from beginning} Molly Lou’s grandma told her to always be herself. {most important event from middle}Molly Lou moved to a new school and was teased by a bully. {most important event from end} Ronald Durkin brought Molly Lou a penny.
  • Cause and effect – Why did Molly Lou’s grandma tell her to “walk as proudly as you can and the world will look up to you”? Because Molly Lou was the shortest girl in first grade. Why did Molly Lou’s grandma tell her “Smile big and the world will smile right alongside you”? Because Molly Lou had buck teeth that stuck out really far. Why did Molly Lou’s grandma tell her “Sing out clear and strong, and the world will cry tears of joy”? Because she had a voice that sounded like a bullfrog being squeezed by a boa constrictor. Why did Molly Lou’s grandma tell her “Believe in yourself and the world will believe in you too”? Because Molly Lou was a little bit of a klutz. Why did the kids at her new school think she was good at football? Because she caught the football and scored a touchdown. How come Ronald Durkin had to go to the nurse? Because he somersaulted backwards and hit his head. How come Ronald Durkin brought Molly Lou a penny? Because he was sorry for teasing her.
  • Character analysis - describe Molly Lou Melon. Describe Ronald Durkin {looks like, feelings, thoughts, character}
  • Classify & categorize – Classify things about you: categorize how you look and things you can do.
  • Compare & contrast – You and Molly Lou Melon. Any other character that is bullied because of what he or she looks like.  
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} Feeling different. Being short. Being clumsy. Starting a new school. Feeling proud of who you are and what you can do.  {possible text-to-text connections} Any book with bullies and starting a new school.
  • Drawing conclusions & inferencing – Why do you think Ronald Durkin gave Molly Lou a penny? {text clues} Molly Lou could do some amazing things and every time she did Ronald felt foolish. {what I know} It is hard to tease someone that can do amazing things. I know that sometimes you give someone a little gift as an apology. {my conclusion} I think Ronald gave Molly Lou a penny because it was his way of apologizing to her.
  • Main idea & details - {main idea} the story is mostly about Molly Lou Melon and showing that her faults are the best things about her. {details} Molly Lou could balance pennies on her buck teeth. Molly Lou could score a touchdown when playing football by running under everyone’s legs. Molly Lou made all the kids smile when she sang.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story was when Molly Lou scored a touchdown and Ronald felt foolish.
  • Problem & solution - {problem} Ronald Durkin teased Molly Lou. {solution} Molly Lou showed Ronald and all the other kids that she could do some amazing things.
  • Sequencing – Molly Lou’s grandma told her to always stand tall. Molly Lou’s grandma told her to always smile big. Molly Lou’s grandma told her to always sing out loud and clear. Molly Lou’s grandma told her to always believe in yourself. Molly Lou had to move. Molly Lou started a new school. Ronald Durkin teased Molly Lou about being small. Molly Lou scored a touchdown. Ronald Durkin called Molly Lou “Bucky Beaver”. Molly Lou balanced pennies on her teeth. Ronald Durkin made fun of Molly Lou’s voice. Molly Lou sings and all the kids smile. Molly Lou cuts out a beautiful snowflake. Ronald Durkin gave Molly Lou a penny.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought – Molly Lou Melon’s grandma gave her some great advice about accepting who she was. What is some other advice you have heard that could help Molly Lou or anyone else being bullied?
  • Theme – Be the best person you can be. Believe in yourself. Be proud of who you are.
  • Visualize – Molly Lou showed Ronald Durkin and the other kids that the things that Ronald teased her about are all the things that made her special. Pick something unique about you and visualize how it makes you special.

 Happy planning!


  1. One of my all-time favorite stories! The kids always love her as well! :)


    1. Such a great message for everyone. A great read for the beginning of the year, or anytime someone needs to be reminded about standing tall and proud.
      Enjoy your week!

  2. Love this book! Great teaching ideas. The school counselor reads it to the 3rd graders every year. When I taught 3rd, she used to refer to me as Molly Sue.


    1. Molly cute! This is such a great character book and should be shared with all the kiddos.
      Enjoy your week!

  3. LOVE this book! and read it many, many times with my youngest who is both tiny and shy :)

    1. Hey Susanna,
      This is definitely a wonderful book, a great story and lesson for everyone - tiny and shy, tall and outspoken!
      Enjoy your week!


Thoughts and comments are always welcome!