Remember, students can't talk about, write about, or understand what they are reading about a subject if they don't have the vocabulary. Pre-teaching key vocabulary builds Background Knowledge. Most of these graphic organizers and ideas come from the book Reading Strategies for Social Studies, Second Edition by Stephanie Macceca.
This link will take you to the National Center for Families Learning where you will find a series of short videos in which an instructor uses the Gradual Release of Responsibility to teach a group of learners how to Code Text (a great strategy for Determining Importance).
This link will take you to the video of a 2nd grade class working with informational text.
Disclaimer: I have not read all of these text selections. If you use one of these books, please comment and let the rest of us know how it worked for teaching and practicing Background Knowledge.
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant
My Great Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston
The Great Kapok Tree by Lynne Cherry
Zathura by Chris Van Allsburg
Salt in His Shoes by Delores & Rosalyn Jordan
Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs by Tomie dePaola
Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes
Wenberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber
The Wig in the Window by Kristen Kittscher