Research says that integrating all subjects within a theme support achievement. When one topic is infused within all of the subject areas students are able to make connections between subjects and truly unify their knowledge in a relevant way. Vocabulary is strengthened when themes are used because words are used and repeated regularly. The following resources give sets of themed books to assist teachers with the task of centering learning around a theme.
Janetevans.co.uk is an online resource offering a number of valuable resources. She lists a collection of professional books, covering practical and applicable techniques for various skills, and some of her research articles regarding reading instruction. Additionally she provides links to other professional resources for teachers. My particular favorites are her text set page where she gives titles of themed texts to use in conjunction with one another, and her author/illustrator page, where she provides links to well known author and illustrator websites. Teachers know that building background knowledge about author and illustrator help students engage more fully with the reading/writing process.
Another great resource is goodreads.com. This is a book-junkie forum, almost like facebook for bookworms. The sight requires that you register but it is a free service. Search this site for book ideas and interact with others for ideas and for fun!
A great resource for finding texts and text sets that interest boys is called guysread.com. Boys are sometimes hard to convince, and the books listed here fall within most boy's interest and "boy schema". According to the homepage "These are books that guys have told us they like".
Some books full of themed text sets that were recommended to me recently by a classmate include the following:
Literature is Back by Carol J. Fuhler & Maria P. Walther
Children's Literature, Briefly by Michael O. Tunnell & James S. Jacobs
The Magic of Stories by Carol J. Strong & Kelly Hoggan North
Picture Book Story Hour: from birthdays to bears by Paula Gaj Sitarz
AND, while searching for some of the books above, I stumbled on Story Stretchers Activities; a book that gives suggestions for extending academic learning based on story books. I have not read it but plan to check it out. I will post an update later.
One of my recent favorites is the movie "UP!" by Disney. Natgeo.com is producing a series called "How hard can it be?" in which they test the validity of the main vehicle in "UP!" by flying a house with balloons! This may be a great pairing for a science/gravity themed text set when including the book "June 29, 1999" by David Wiesner. When the program features I will see how they meld.