Big Al
by Andrew Clements & Yoshi

Big Al is a large, scary, ugly fish--so much so that none of the other fish want to be near him. They don't realize that he's the nicest fish in the sea and only wants to make friends. He tries many different tactics (disguise, silliness, blending in) but nothing seems to work. Until, one day Al saves the day and all the other fish see his true colors for the first time.

This book is one of a number of children's books aimed at this age group that uses large, fierce looking animals to teach children not to make snap judgements about people based on their appearances. Another example is New Bear at School, also reviewed on this site. (One would assume and hope that there would be books aimed at children a bit older than this audience that feature real children as the 'different, maybe scary' character. Then, kids could graduate to that more direct approach to teaching children not to judge others. But there aren't many. We've looked!)

This is a great book to read aloud near the beginning of the school year, as students are just getting to know each other. It can also be helpful to read any time of the year if you notice that one of the children in your class doesn't appear to have made friends or been accepted by the other students.

Reading Level for Big Al

Interest Level:  Kindergarten - Grade 2
DRA Level:  20
Lexile Measure: 880L
Grade Level Equivalent:  2.9
Guided Reading Level:  L

Read-Aloud vs. Individual Reading:
For kids in Kindergarten and first grade, this book will need to be a read-aloud rather than for individual reading, as the reading level will be too high for the majority of them. Many second graders, on the other hand, should be able to read this book on their own, especially as the year moves on. 

See Inside Big Al

Below are sample spreads from inside this memorable book.  Trust us, this ugly fish really grows on you by the end!

Big Al
Lesson/Activity Ideas

There are a lot of lesson / activity ideas available on Teachers Pay Teachers for this classic, very popular children's book. We haven't personally used them with our classes, but they all seem to have a lot of positive reviews. (If you aren't familiar with this site, it's full of lesson plans, activities, learning games, and other curriculum materials made by teachers. We LOVE the site!!).

To see these Big Al lesson / activity ideas (some of which are pictured below), click the link or the pictures below.