Interactive Read Aloud
Name: Jenna Komarin Grade: 5 Date: 10/31/11
AN ANGEL FOR SOLOMON SINGER BY CYNTHIA RYLANT
Lesson Source/s: An Angel for Solomon Singer by Cynthia Rylant
Lesson Objective: Students will think carefully about character development and look for ways that the author reveals elements of
their characters over time…what do the character’s actions reveal about them and how is the main character similar or different to
another main character in Rylant’s work?
R–5–4.1 Identifying or describing character(s), setting, problem/solution, major events, or plot, as appropriate to text; or identifying
any significant changes in character(s) over time (State)
R–5–4.3 Generating questions before, during, and after reading to enhance recall, expand understanding and/or gain new
R–5–5.2 Describing characters’ physical characteristics, personality traits, or interactions; or providing examples of thoughts,
words, or actions that reveal characters’ personality traits or their changes over time (State)
R–5–5.5 Identifying author’s message or theme (implied or stated, as in a fable) (State), R–5–5.6 Identifying causes or effects,
including possible motives of characters (Local)
R–5–16.1 Comparing stories or other texts to related personal experience, prior knowledge, or to other books (Local)
Multicultural Content: some prior knowledge of setting will be important here…how does New York look and feel as compared to
rural Indiana? This will be important to understanding the meaning of the book.
Materials & Advanced Preparation: the book itself, clipboards, paper, pencils
Key/ New Vocabulary: yearning, nostalgia, lonesome, forlorn, companionship, wanderer, journeyed,
Time Teacher Actions Student Learning Form of Assessment
3 minutes 1. Connection
Students should be sitting
We’ve been doing a lot of work with Cynthia Rylant’s books and thinking “crisscross applesauce”
about characters and how their actions can give us a window into their and giving good eye
lives…We’ve also been focusing a lot on how Cynthia Rylant shows us contact.
what she wants us to know about characters through images she creates
with words and actions that her characters take.
We’re going to read An Angel for Solomon Singer…as we read I want you
to notice how Cynthia Rylant introduces us to her characters…what does
she show us and what doesn’t she tell us?
17 minutes 2. The Read Aloud Students will actively
listen and engage with
Solomon Singer lived in a hotel for men near the corner of Columbus the text, raising their
Avenue and Eighty-fifth Street in New York City, and he did not like it. The hands when they want to
hotel had none of the things he loved. speak, listening to what
their classmates have to
His room had no balcony (he dreamed of beautiful balconies). It had no say, and using this
fireplace (and he knew he would surely think better sitting before a information as well as
fireplace). It had no porch swing for napping and no picture window for their own ideas about the
watching the birds. text, they will build and
construct deep meaning
He could not have a cat. He could not have a dog. He could not even paint and understanding of the
his walls a different color and, oh, what a difference a yellow wall or a book’s big ideas.
purple wall would have made!
Q: So what’s going on here? What is Solomon Singer’s problem and
what does this tell you about his character so far? Why might he be
living in New York City at a hotel for men?
It is important to love where you live, and Solomon Singer loved where he
lived not at all, and it was this that drove him out into the street each night.
It was dreams of balconies and purple walls that took him to the street.
Solomon Singer wandered.
He was a wanderer by nature, anyway. He had grown up in Indiana, a place
absolutely famous for wandering. So much of Indiana was mixed into his
blood that even now, fifty-odd years later, he could not give up being a boy
in Indiana and at night he journeyed the streets, wishing they were fields,
gazed at lighted windows, wishing they were stars, and listened to the
voices of all who passed, wishing for the conversations of crickets.
Q: Cynthia Rylant tells us that Solomon Singer is a wanderer by
nature…what does she mean by that? What is Solomon Singer doing
as he wanders? How does his wandering begin to form a window into
Solomon Singer was lonely and had no one to love and not even a place to
love, and this was hard for him. He didn’t feel happy as he wandered.
One evening, somewhere between Columbus Avenue and Central Park
West, Solomon Singer wandered into a small restaurant called the
Westway Café. He liked the name. He was from the Midwest and liked to
imagine he was, each day, making his way west, that someday he would
again be west, and so the name meant something to him. He opened up
the plastic menu before him and there he read these words: The Westway
Café—where all your dreams come true. The menu told him how much
hamburgers and bowls of soup and pieces of pie and other things cost. But
it didn’t put a price on dreams.
Q: It seems that Cynthia Rylant was very intentional in her choice to
name the restaurant the Westway Café: Where all your dreams come
true…what do you predict this will mean for Solomon Singer?
A quiet voice like Indiana pines in November said, “Good evening, sir,” and
Solomon Singer looked up into a pair of brown eyes that were lined at the
corners from a life of smiling.
Q: Before we even meet this new character, what does this description
already start to tell us about the person?
Solomon Singer smiled back at the waiter and ordered a bowl of tomato
soup, a cup of coffee, and a balcony (but he didn’t say the balcony out
loud). The tomato soup was delicious, and he even got a second cup of
coffee free, and the smiling-eyed waiter told Solomon Singer to come back
again to the Westway Café. Solomon Singer did, the very next night.
He ordered two biscuits and some bacon and a large glass of grapefruit
juice and a fireplace (but he didn’t say the fireplace out loud). The smiling-
eyed waiter was glad to see him, glad to have him, and told him, “Come
back again,” and Solomon Singer did, the very next night.
Q: Why might Solomon Singer continue to go back to the café each
night? How does this give us insight into his character? When Cynthia
Rylant writes that he orders a balcony and a fireplace—but not out
loud, what is she telling us here?
For many, many nights Solomon Singer made his way west, carrying a
dream in his head, each night ordering it up with his supper. When he
reached the end of his list of dreams (the end was a purple wall), he simply
started all over again and ordered up a balcony (but he didn’t say the
balcony out loud).
And slowly and quietly with time, something happened. On Solomon
Singer’s walks each night to the Westway Café, the streets began to move
before him like fields of wheat, and he thought them beautiful.
The lights in the buildings twinkled and shone like stars and he thought
them lovely. And the voices of all who passed sounded like the
conversations of friendly crickets, and he felt friendly toward them.
Activity: Have two sets of text side by side…ask the students to
underline specific words and write notes along the margin comparing
and contrasting the two passages in terms of what has changed for
Solomon Singer and how the text shows us these changes…then
share what they noticed.
…at night he journeyed the streets, …the streets began to move before
wishing they were fields, gazed at him like fields of wheat, and he thought
lighted windows, wishing they were them beautiful. The lights in the
stars, and listened to the voices of all buildings twinkled and shone like stars
who passed, wishing for the and he thought them lovely. And the
conversations of crickets. voices of all who passed sounded like
the conversations of friendly crickets,
and he felt friendly toward them.
Rounding the corner off Columbus Avenue, seeing the lighted window of
the Westway Café, Solomon Singer felt as he had as a boy, rounding the
bend in Indiana and seeing the yellow lights of the house where he lived.
Walking into the Westway Café, he felt at home as he had in Indiana, and
the smiling waiter greeted him as familiarly as his parents had once greeted
him in Indiana, when he would come in from wandering the roads he loved.
The waiter’s name, it turned out, was Angel.
Q: Why do you think Cynthia Rylant chooses to give us this
information now? Does his name surprise you? What does this tell
you about how we are to think of the waiter’s character?
Solomon Singer went to the Westway Café every night for dinner that first
year and he dines there still. He hasn’t given up carrying a dream in his
head each time he goes, and one of his dreams has even come true (he
has sneaked a cat into his hotel room).
Solomon Singer has found a place he loves and he doesn’t feel lonely
anymore, and if ever you are near the Westway Café, wishing instead you
were in a field of conversational crickets beneath the shining stars, go
inside, and Angel will take your order and Solomon Singer will smile and
make you feel you are home.
4 minutes 3. Turn and Talk
We’ve been doing a lot of work with Cynthia Rylant books…in addition to
this book we’ve read The Old Woman Who Named Things and The
Relatives Came. You have also independently previewed or read some of
her other books as well.
Q: If we want to think about what we know about Cynthia Rylant and
the kinds of characters that we find in her books, how is Solomon
Singer similar or different to the Old Woman? What are some specific
examples that reveal these similarities or differences in their
I will probably have a graphic organizer that they can take a minute to write
down their ideas…then share with their partner.
Character Similarities Character Differences
1 minute 4. Closing and Recording
5. Follow Up
How did the lesson plan work? What was effective? What did you learn?
What would you change for tomorrow or the next time you will use this