Hidden Gems: The Wild Robot

Recently a friend told me about the book, The Wild Robot. She told me her kids loved it - and they are not big fans of fiction books. This sweet story is a bit unconventional and has a lot of great themes that can be discussed. The book is listed for grades 3-7, but I would recommend it for grades 3-5 in school.

Read the Wild Robot with your students in grades 3-5. This is a wonderful mentor text for teaching theme. In addition, teachers can easily integrate science and language arts with this sweet book.

Summary of The Wild Robot

The book opens with a plane carrying a load of robots crash-landing on an island. Of all the robots, only one survives the crash. The native animals don't know what to make off the debris from the crash. When the robot wakes up and begins talking, the animals really don't know what to think - and they aren't kind. Rozzum unit 7134, otherwise known as Roz, is treated like an outcast and called a monster. Thankfully, robots don't have feelings, and Roz continues to explore the world around her.

Roz uses observation to understand the birds and animals, even camouflaging herself so she can watch them. Eventually she learns how to communicate with the different species, but she still isn't accepted by them. Through an unfortunate accident, Roz ends up adopting a gosling and her world changes. Eventually, Roz finds a home on the island and becomes and important part of its community.

Teaching The Wild Robot: Theme and Science Integration

In all honesty, it was the many themes in this book that stood out to me. If you are looking for a book that your class can discuss and debate, pick The Wild Robot. I can almost guarantee that your readers will find different messages in this story. The publisher suggests the role of technology in society, what it means to be alive, and how people affect the world as themes. However, I took away completely different themes. This book would be great for a class dealing with bullying, because Roz is definitely bullied. It can also be used to teach "don't judge a book by its cover, " as the animals judge Roz on how she looks but not on who she is. Also, for me, this book was about family and how families are the people who love you - even if you are not biologically related. There are a lot of takeaways that your students will get from reading this book.

Also, this book integrates a number of science topics. Roz has to use camouflage herself and then adapts to her environment. As her gosling grows up, she has to cope with migration. As winter arrives, some animals hibernate, while others need to find shelter from the harsh weather. The book also discusses the life cycle and alludes to global warming. It is difficult to find a fiction book that integrates so many science concepts in an authentic way. Teachers could use this book to cover a number of language arts and science standards.
Meredith Anderson has created a great STEM resource to go along with The Wild Robot. Students create Roz and apply the science concepts as they read the book. My reluctant reader has really enjoyed her STEM units, so I plan to use this one to encourage him to read more this summer. Your students may also enjoy this resource.

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