Another core component of teaching art, science, and social studies through language arts is book sets. Genre studies can be completed with each student reading a different book, but there is no substitute for the lively discussions and high level thinking that can come when groups of students read and discuss the same book. Six to ten copies of a book are usually sufficient. Try to have at least three different books to choose from, and consider allowing your students to make the book choice. You may be amazed at how readers considered to be “low” can read difficult books when given the support of a group and a personal drive to do so. Here again, the PTO may be able to help you, particularly if you are willing to share the book sets with your colleagues as part of a school collection.
Many science and social studies series also come with trade books that support instruction. The PTO may be willing to purchase multiple copies of these sets if the district chooses not to purchase them. Again, many PTOs and PTAs are just looking for projects like this.
You can use Book Fairs and Wish Lists to build book sets for your own classroom. Sometimes parents will volunteer to purchase the book their child chooses to read and then donate it to your collection if they understand its importance to instruction. Whether you are teaching preschool, eighth graders or anything in between, having access to sets of thematic trade books will save you lots of time and add substantially to the quality of your thematic instruction.