I am working this year with 3rd grade and with Middle School books a lot for the kids for whom I consult. It's quite a jump from 3rd grade to 6th or 7th grade books, but the structure of the story and the interactions around them do not change considerably.
One of the books we’ve worked with is Verdi, by Janell Cannon. This is a book about a young snake who is full of energy, who sees the older snakes as lazy and boring, and who desperately doesn't want to grow up to be one of them. His antics to avoid getting older - and changing to his requisite python green color - are fun. And they provide very clear steps to sequence in the story.
The descriptions Ms. Cannon uses provide great opportunities to describe Verdi and to compare and contrast him with the old "men" snakes.
The book is full of vocabulary that can be tough for my kids. I try to look for good visual cues and for synonyms that are more accessible. Here is a page of vocabulary matching that you can download to your desktop and try with your group or class.
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