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Soldier Bear- read this book with your kids!!!

There is no secret- I love reading-- and I love a book that enraptures so many young readers at one time and can be recommended to anybody.  Soldier Bear captures the boys attention with war, the girls with a sweet bear- and ties in everybody that it is a true story.  I have never read a book that so eloquently paints the a picture of war for a wide audience to grasp onto.  Soldier Bear transcends grade levels and is a story I will read with my students year after year.  

Based on a real series of events that happened during World War II, Soldier Bear tells the story of an orphaned bear cub adopted by a group of Polish soldiers in Iran. The soldiers raise the bear and eventually enlist him as a soldier to ensure that he stays with the company. He travels with them from Iran to Italy, and then on to Scotland. Voytek's mischief gets him into trouble along with way, but he also provides some unexpected encouragement for the soldiers amidst the reality of war: Voytek learns to carry bombs for the company, saves the camp from a spy, and keeps them constantly entertained with his antics.

I read this book aloud to my class and had them participate in numerous activities throughout.  It was just about the sweetest thing watching them connect with not only the book but with history.  This book can be a spring board for so many topics especially with literacy and history- but even math and science.

 I hope you add this book into your amazon cart now.  It will be one of the sweetest books you read.  There are a TON of videos and pictures of Voytek on the internet which just makes the book come to alive even more!

Here are a few of things we did:

Choose 5 words to descibe Soldier Bear and then use apps or taxedo/wordle to make a word cloud. (check out my other post about this)

We created sticky notes for the whole book as apart of the book trailer process and how to summarize each chapter.  From that we created a mini book retelling the story as well as a book trailer


Voytek becomes the mascot for the 22nd Polish Army Cop.  Students decided what animal would represent them as a mascot and why.  They wrote why they chose that animal and how they are alike that animal and then created their design.  

To analyze the character of Voytek.  We looked at his external and internal characteristics and how they impacted the other.  Character x-rays are powerful and allow students to closely read the text.  

I developed a book study and critical literacy activities to use with my students that can be used for students across multiple grades and disciplines.It can be found here.    There are many activities in the pack that are better suited for older/mature students- such as using QR codes to investigate Poland during WWII and the Battle of Mote Cassino.  

I hope you enjoy the book as much as we did.  The story is timeless and truly amazing!!!


  1. Hi! What a terrific post. Another friend stumbled onto your blog and shared it with me because of this book. I immediately ordered it! I'm so happy to have found your blog. I'll be following closely. :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

    1. OH my gosh you are going to LOVE Soldier Bear!!! it is just about the sweetest book I've ever read and because it's based on a true story the kids can't get enough of it. I obviously had to check out your blog and it's amazing!!! Your readbox---brilliant for connecting with Book Trailers!!! I just need to find a carpenter! Your blog hit so many things I've been working on and wanting to incorporate. Simply Thank you!
      I have quite a few picture books to add to your collection... but I'll have to compile them into a list- unspoken, pink and say, and anything Jaqueline Woodson (especially Show Way and The Rope) come to mind. Also.... have you read Dead End in Norvelt? It connects with a lot of the history (more obscure and interesting stories) that you will be covering. So happy to connect with you!

  2. This book sounds amazing. Can't wait to buy it and read it myself. Thanks for sharing!
    Growing Little Learners

    1. YES! you are going to love it!!! It is just about the sweetest book I've ever read.

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