Best Read Aloud You’ve Never Heard of: The Smartest Man in Ireland

I wrote this post to summarize a book I had read aloud to 3rd graders. The students and teacher saw how I embedded a Glog into a post on our school blog (which you see here).

Recently, I shared the book The Smartest Man in Ireland by Mollie Hunter with Mrs. Hafermann’s 3rd graders. They really enjoyed this novel for a variety of reasons.


Character Development

Patrick Kentigern Keenan learned a very important lesson throughout the book. He had a tendency to brag about how intelligent he was, hence the title. People didn’t believe him, though, because the fairies and leprechauns tricked him. For example, when Patrick painted two coins gold to pay for shoes made by leprechauns, they kidnapped his son Kieron until he paid them back with work. Patrick got to keep the shoes, but he learned not to steal what is not his.

Interesting Details

Patrick found a lot of fabled items in his adventures to prove he was as smart as he thought he was. For instance, he managed to take a silver bridle from a fairy’s horse. Although he almost paid with his life for this, he discovered that he could tame horses with the bridle that had not been broken in yet (meaning wild). At this point in the story, Patrick had learned to keep his mouth shut regarding how he came about it. He started to show his smartness through his actions, instead of his words.

Suspenseful Plot

The plot of the story is the journey that Patrick takes to learn what is more important in life. When the fairies entrance his son Kieron and hold him hostage in their lair, Patrick realizes that it is courage in addition to his intelligence that will ultimately save his son. An ancient story about an iron knife turned out to be important in their escape. However, had Patrick not had the courage to go in after Kieron, this knowledge would be useless.

In Summary

We ended our read aloud by summarizing our learning in a Glog. (Click here to go to this Glog. It is only pictured above. WordPress does not allow Glogs to be embedded into blog posts). A glog is a visual blog. It can highlight audio, video, images and text all in one digital poster. It shows what we know from the story, as well as highlight some of the images that we visualized while listening to it.

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District ( Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD ( and Lead Literacy (

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