I got an idea from 4th grade Frolics http://4thgradefrolics.blogspot.com/2011/06/super-fun-writing-idea.html website to use The World According to Humphrey for a read aloud. Last year was the 1st year I used the book and the kids absolutely loved it. I got some cute little Webkins hamsters on clearance at the Hallmark store. One was an Easter special and I just cut the rabbit ears off. Their names were Honey and Carrots and the kids could write to them during Daily 5 Writing Time. I did have a big idea to write them back but never did take time to do that. This year I would like to do better at that. The things the kids absolutely loved was The Hamster of Happiness I got at the Hallmark store. They were allowed to listen to one saying each day after we read a chapter. There were lots of giggles. Sad thing is I couldn't find them for sale anymore.
The BFG is another book my kids absolutely loved. I have done a riddle hunt with the book and it really gets them excited about it. Check out the riddle hunt page http://riddlehunts.wikispaces.com/
and scroll down to the files section to download your own BFG riddle hunt.