When I was in third grade I read the book Mr. Popper's Penguins and it instantly became my favorite book. I remember it so vividly because I just really enjoyed the creativity of the author's imagination. It is a really fun story to have children read.
Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater is a story about an extremely poor family who live in a small town. Mr. Popper paints houses for a living and is always dreaming of great adventures. He lives vicariously through a man known as Admiral Drake who is a great explorer. Mr. Popper constantly writes letters to Admiral Drake and one day one of his letters was recognized and Admiral Drake announces on his radio show that he is going to send Mr. Popper a surprise. That surprise turns out to be a penguin named "Captain Cook" and the Popper family is ecstatic. However, due to the new climate and lack of other penguins Captain Cook becomes lonely and sad. In order to save their penguin the Popper's ask the local aquarium if they can send over one of their penguins, and they do. This new penguin is a female named Greta, and together Greta and Captain Cook create their own penguin family. However, due to the fact that the Popper's had to customize their entire house to accommodate the penguins, they become severely in debt. In order to save their family's finances Mr. Popper puts the new penguin family into a circus act and they travel all over the United States performing. Ultimately Mr. Popper realizes the penguins are not happy in show business and has to let them go back to their natural habitat in the Arctic.
I really enjoyed this book as a kid, and still do today because it is such a fun read. It is perfect for third graders because it is a chapter book, but still has some pictures, so it is not a terribly hard read. I think the way that I would incorporate this book into my classroom would be to have the book coincide with a science unit on the arctic wildlife. It would be a good way to connect the two subjects. I might have the students make a report on the different types of penguins in the world and connect it to the story of Mr. Popper's Penguins by making a diorama of their favorite scene in the story. I think that students are able to learn more about a topic when they are interested and if they are able to make their own connections with the topic.
This book can be purchased at: