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Good beginnings draw the reader into a story. Gather a selection of books with different beginnings, sometimes called leads, to share
with your students. It is only necessary to read the beginning of each. Discuss the different types of beginnings, then ask which one
makes them want to hear the rest of the story and why that is so. Have students select a previously written narrative, or begin a new
one, and write three beginnings for their stories each of which uses a different approach. Let them share and tell which beginning they
think best suits the story they wish to tell or, in the case of the previously written stories, works better than what they started with. Not
every beginning works for every story. Encourage students to have 2 or 3 sentences for each beginning, enough to tell if the beginning
is effective. If students are stuck in the "One beautiful, sunny day...." mode, this will help them see new possibilities for that first line.

    Author                   Title                       Summary                       Curriculum               Character
                                                                                       Connection                 Trait
                    * Indicates Out of Print

Ackerman, Karen     Song and Dance Man         Grandpa enjoys reliving his         Social Studies             Respect
                    (Beginning: introduces     vaudeville days for the
                    the character)             grandchildren.
Allard, Harry       The Stupids Die            The Stupids think they are dead                                Responsibility
                    (Beginning: dialogue)      when the lights go out.
Bunting, Eve        Going Home                 Carlos and his family travel home Social Studies           Citizenship
                    (Beginning: a character    to Mexico for Christmas.          Cultural Group: Hispanic
                    is speaking)
Clement, Rod        Grandpa’s Teeth            Soon after Grandpa’s teeth          Social Studies             Honesty
                    (Beginning: the main       disappear from a glass beside
                    character is speaking)     his bed, the whole town is under
Cooney, Barbara     Eleanor                    A timid, orphaned girl grows up     Social Studies             Perseverance
                    (Beginning: introduces     to become First Lady.
                    the character;compare
                    with Shrek)
Disalvo-Ryan,       A Dog Like Jack            Finding and losing a boy’s best     Health                     Responsibility
Dyanne              (Beginning: factual)       friend: his dog.
Duke, Kate          Aunt Isabel Tells a Good Aunt Isabel and her niece,
                    One                      Penelope, create a story
                    (Beginning: dialogue)    including all the necessary
Herriot, James      Moses the Kitten           Dr. Herriot finds Moses near a      Social Studies             Compassion
                    (Beginning: bold           farm pond in winter nearly frozen   Multicultural
                    statement by the           to death and takes him home
                    narrator)                  where something unusual
Hoffman, Mary       Amazing Grace              Grace is determined to be Peter     Social Studies             Perseverance
                    (Beginning: introduces     Pan in the school play.             Multicultural
                    the character)
Hofsepian           Why Not?                   Original folktale of a solemn man   Health                     Responsibility
                    (Beginning: strong         who adopts two cats only to         Multicultural
                    statement)                 discover he needs two laps. He
                                               solves the dilemma and learns
                                               how love can grow.
Hooks, William      The Mighty Santa Fe*       At Christmas, William has to        Health                     Courage
                    (Beginning: figurative     leave behind his cherished train
                    language)                  set when his family goes to visit
                                               his frightening great
Houston, Gloria     My Great-Aunt Arizona      Arizona grows up and teaches in     Social Studies             Caring
                    (Beginning: introduces     the same one room schoolhouse
                    the character)             she attended as a child.
Howard, Arthur      When I Was Five            A six-year-old boy describes     Social Studies
                    (Beginning:                things he liked when five and
                    announcement)              compares them to things he likes
Howard, Elizabeth   Aunt Flossie's Hats (and Sunday afternoons Sarah and           Social Studies             Respect
                    Crabcakes later)         Susan visit Aunt Flossie and          Cultural Group: African-
                    (Beginning: setting)     hear stories of old times while       American
                                             sharing cookies, crabcakes, and
Koralack, Jenny     The Boy and the Cloth      A boy who has worn holes in his     Health                     Courage
                    of Dreams                  cloth of dreams must find
                    (Beginning: mysterious)    courage to help mend the cloth.
Krull, Kathleen      Wilma Unlimited             African-American woman who            Health                     Perseverance
                     (Beginning: factual)        overcame polio as a child to          Cultural group: African-
                                                 become the first woman to win 3       American
                                                 gold medals in track in a single
Mayer, Mercer        There’s a Nightmare in      A little boy fears the dark and the
                     My Closet                   monster in his closet.
                     (Beginning: begins with
                     the end/flashback)
McCully, Emily       Mirette on the High Wire Mirette wants Bellini, the world         Cultural group: French     Perseverance
                     (Beginning: setting)     famous high-wire walker, to
                                              teach her how to walk the high
Mendez, Phil         The Black Snowman           A magical kente brings a black        Social Studies             Courage
                     (Beginning: mysterious)     snowman to life and helps a           Cultural Group: African-
                                                 young boy discover his heritage       American
                                                 and self-worth.
Noble, Trinka        The Day Jimmy’s Boa         A boy relates the events of his
                     Ate the Wash                school field trip.
                     (Beginning: begins with
                     the end/flashback)
Ottley, Matt         What Faust Saw              Faust, a bumbling dog, tries to
                     (Beginning: mysterious)     get the family’s attention only to
                                                 be put outside in the midst of
Pfister, Marcus      Boris Beaver                Can a beaver and a frog become Science                           Respect
                     (Beginning: setting)        good friends?
Pinckney, Andrea     Duke Ellington              Biography of Duke Ellington, the      Social Studies
                     (Beginning: question)       jazz playin’ man’s story is told in   Cultural Group: African-
                                                 jazzy language.                       American
Polacco, Patricia    Casey at the Bat            Polacco has added a beginning                                    Responsibility
and Ernest           (Beginning: question)       and ending to the popular
Lawrence                                         narrative poem that places it in
                                                 the context of a Little League.
Rylant, Cynthia      Night in the County         Describes the sights and sounds       Social Studies             Respect
                     (Beginning: dramatic)       of the country.
Sharmart, Marjorie   Gila Monsters Meet You      A New York City boy’s                 Social Studies             Courage
                     at the Airport              preconceived ideas of life in the
                     (Beginning: introduces      west make him apprehensive
                     the character)              about moving.
Simmons, Jane        Come Along, Daisy           Daisy has a mind of her own and       Health                     Responsibility
                     (Beginning: dialogue)       doesn’t obey her mother.
Steig, William       Shrek!                      The chronicles of a nasty ogre’s
                     Beginning: introduces       wonder years.
                     the character
Steig, William       Sylvester and the Magic     In a moment of fright, Sylvester                                 Courage
                     Pebble                      the donkey asks his magic
                     (Beginning: introduces      pebble to turn him into a rock
                     the character)              and then he can’t hold the pebble
                                                 to wish himself back to normal
Trivazas, Eugene     The Three Little Wolves     A great version of the old fairy      Science                    Courage
                     and the Big Bad Pig         tale
                     (Beginning: traditional
Tudor, Tash          Corgiville Fair             Satirical story about a county fair. Social Studies              Honesty
                     (Beginning: setting)
Viorst, Judith       The Tenth Good Thing        A little boy must deal with the       Health                     Caring
                     about Barney                death of his pet.
                     (Beginning: starts in the

Yolen, Jane          Encounter                   A young Indian boy’s tale of          Social Studies             Responsibility
                     (Beginning: mysterious)     Columbus coming to the new            Multicultural
Yorinks, Arthur      Hey, Al                     Al and his dog yearn for a better     Social Studies             Respect
                     (Beginning: introduces      life.
                     the character)
Yorinks, Arthur      Louis the Fish              An unhappy butcher from               Social Studies             Responsibility
                     (Beginning: starts at the   Flatbush finally is happy.

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