Making Inferences with Sarah Stewart Books

If you teach grades 3-5, you need these books in your classroom! They are the perfect books for teaching inferences or drawing conclusions.
So, I never wanted to beat my head on a wall to explain the difference between making an inference and drawing a conclusion. After getting my master’s in reading education, I’m still not sure if I understand! But, I usually think of conclusions as more final- you’ve got all the evidence and you make your conclusions?….Maybe inferences evolve more? I don’t know!!! However you dice it, you can infer and draw conclusions from these books. 
Both of these books are written in the form of letters.
In The Gardener, Lydia Grace moves to the big city to live with her uncle. Most of the letters are written to her family back home. There are many inferences to make…First of all, you can infer many character emotions Secondly, you can infer what her parents may have written to her, sent to her, etc. 
In The Quiet Place, Isabel writes letters to her Aunt Lupita in Mexico after her family moves to the U.S.. It begins with their road trip North, and continues as they settle into their new life. Once again, you can infer emotions and character traits. You can also infer what her Aunt Lupita is writing to her.
I suppose that if you are thinking of drawing conclusions as more definitive, then you could apply that to the second letter in The Quiet Place. There are clues about “blue flowers” and a few other clues that make it pretty obvious they are in Texas on the second page, but you have to draw the conclusion because it doesn’t come right out and say it. 
Another reason I love this book is because it related to SO many of my students. I taught a high population of students who had moved to Texas from Mexico, so The Quiet Place was an AWESOME book for teaching inferring, because inferring requires you to use your own background knowledge. (You can totally combine a schema lesson with this if you have students who relate to it.)
I loved how my students could relate to Isabel’s fears, concerns, and feelings as she moved to a new place and learned a new language. Getting students to emotionally connect to characters is an important key to comprehension!

I would highly encourage you to check out these books for your class! And, when you are sharing this book with your class, do not forget to take some time to focus on the amazing illustrations!
First of all, the illustrations are beautiful, but secondly, you can draw conclusions from the pictures or confirm your conclusions. The pictures offer evidence. 
All of you should click here to see the illustrator, David Small, and his online sketchbook. I think his art is so whimsical and fun. I really really wish he would sell prints, because I think some of these could be really fun to frame! Believe, me I’ve googled every combination I could think of to look and see about buying his prints, but I don’t think he has any for sale. 
All in all, I hope you can find a way to plug these books into your instruction, because they are lovely in word and image! I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from The Quiet Place.
“…after lunch when we drove through many, many, many blue flowers. The very next day the sky became that same blue. Chavo said, ‘we left a sea of blue at our feet and entered an ocean of blue over our heads. I want to talk like that.”- The Quiet Place

Pretty, isn’t it?

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