Dear Mr Henshaw illustration

 Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
summary, lesson / activity ideas, reading levels, etc

Dear Mr. Henshaw is a classic middle grades chapter book that kids
love today as much as they did two decades ago when it first came
out and became that year's Newbery Medal winner. 
In the story, second-grader Leigh's favorite book is Ways to Amuse a Dog by
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Boyd Henshaw, so he writes to the author to let him know that he "licked" the book.  This one letter becomes the first of many over the next few years, until the busy author suggests to Leigh that he keep a journal. Leigh wants to be a writer too, so follows Mr. Henshaw's advice, and the letters turn into a journal--with entries addressed to "Dear Mr. Pretend Henshaw", since Leigh feels better if he's writing to someone.

The format is clever, told through a
combination of Leigh's letters to Mr. Henshaw and his journal entries to
"Mr. Pretend Henshaw." This makes Dear Mr Henshaw a good choice for reading aloud to your class when trying to inspire your students in either of these writing modes.

Cleary covers a number of different personal and family issues that many students will be able to relate to. In his journal, Leigh writes about his parents' recent divorce and how much he misses his father. He also talks about not having many friends at school and the problems he is having with students stealing food from his lunch box. The voice feels authentic for a boy his age, and children experiencing family break-up or loneliness will certainly relate to this character and feel encouraged to watch Leigh come to understand and accept his family situation and even make a few friends.

Dear Mr. Henshaw   --  Beverly Cleary

Reading Stats

Interest Level: Gr. 3-6        DRA Level: 40-44
Reading Level: age 9-12    Lexile Meas: 910L

Topics Covered
letter writing       journal writing
family challenges--dealing with divorce

Awards & Rating
Newbery Medal Winner
American Library Assoc Notable Children's Book
Horn Book Fanfare Children's Book Award
Children's Book Award winner for various states
   including VT, NJ, HI, OK, and MA
Average Customer Rating:
4.5 stars (159 reviews)
Dear Mr Henshaw

We are creating a list of lesson ideas and student activities to accompany this book. With this book begins such a classroom staple, we imagine this list will grow quite long. To see what we have so far, please click: Dear Mr. Henshaw lesson/activity ideas, etc. And if you know of an activity or lesson idea to go with this book, please let us know.

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