A Year of Great Third Grade Read Alouds: May & June

Fig Pudding

Kids will enjoy relating to the daily madness.

Fig Pudding by Ralph Fletcher (Level R)

Summary of the Book

“Take it from Cliff, being the oldest of six kids is not easy under the best of circumstances. Who can be Mr. Reliable all the time? How do you deal with a brother who enjoys sitting under the kitchen table for punishment? Or explain to your sister that she can’t divorce herself from the family just because they eat meat? Or figure out what your baby brother wants for Christmas when he asks for a yidda yadda? Told in the first person, each lively, humorous episode from Cliff’s fifth-grade year focuses on one of the kids. Together they create a strong, satisfying story of a large, closely knit family.”

Why This Book Is Great

Fig Pudding tackles some common family issues throughout the book and then hits you with a very serious event at the end. Cliff and his siblings argue, make fun of each other, steal from another and generally drive each other a little crazy. But there are also many scenes that show how close they are and how much love there is between them. It can be confusing – just like real families. The characters are multidimensional and can be obnoxious one minute and humble the next – just like real people.

They say if you want to have great discussions with your students that you should keep the subject matter accessible and highly relatable. For most of this book that’s what you’ll get. At the end of this book, one of the siblings die and for the last three chapters we witness the Abernathy’s grief. It’s well written and could lead to some amazing comments from your students – depending on the life experiences in your class. The book ends with a lighthearted (and completely unsanitary) scene that leaves the reader with the understanding that families can get through anything when they stick together.

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