It's finally here! Today I am co-hosting the August 10 for 10 picture book blogging event with Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning. All posts will be linked to both of our blogs. Mandy will be putting together a summary of posts, and I've created a jog to allow you to view all the posts from a common link. A jog allows you to page through all of the posts much like turning the pages in a book. When you click here to go to the jog you will be able to see the "table of contents" of posts. We are thrilled to have so many blogs joining the event. If you're looking for new books for your classroom, for your children, or as a gift you'll want to stop here.
Finally, My 10
For days and days and days you've heard me talk about choosing 10 picture books I can't live without in my classroom. You've watched me tweet, tweet, tweet the links (#pb10for10). I've probably driven a few Twitter friends crazy with my event updates and reminders. Consider yourself lucky. At home, my family has watched me collect picture books, rearrange stacks of picture books, and talk about the reasons I love certain books. I've had picture books stacked on tables, across the living room, and on the couch. They've heard me moan and groan because I just couldn't get my list under 15.
So here it is...the moment we've all been waiting for. Was I able to narrow my collection of picture books to 10 "must haves"? (Yes, I'm cheating a bit with the picture. Rules were meant to be
broken bent, right?)
Have you ever been to a restaurant and been unsure of what to order? You're wrestling between a few dishes, and decide to just wait until the waitress or waiter comes to make that final last minute choice?? Well, that's pretty much how this choosing 10 books event is going for me.
you've I've been waiting for. Here are the 10 picture books I think are must-haves. This is my list and I'm sticking to it (for today):
This is the one book I am keeping from my original list in More Than Guided Reading. (Of course, I still love all the others!) Gracie is a dog who loves quiet. All was quiet and well until the day the painters came to the house. That's the day of the Great Gracie Chase.
This book always has my students spellbound. Rylant has a way with words. Words like "ploop-ploop", changes in sentence length, and repetitive phrases make this a book that is fun for the voice. The story begs to be read quickly...then s l o w l y..., then loud, and then soft. Like all picture books, this book should be read and enjoyed over and over just for the rhythm of the words and the meaning of the story.
Later, it is a good book to revisit as a writing mentor and for reading focus lessons. I've used it to talk about repetition, character, and turning points in stories (among other things). Last year, my students decided our reader's workshop needed to be a place that Gracie would come visit; a quiet place where you could hear "the quiet fish going 'ploop-ploop'". Gotta love that!
What is a list without David Shannon? There was no way my list could be without him. Let's be honest, young children love David Shannon. How can they not? David Shannon is the perfect author for any primary classroom. Like my young writers, David Shannon writes his own words and draws his pictures. I think this is a powerful example. After much debate about all of his titles, I chose Good Boy, Fergus! for my list. Fergus is not a very well behaved dog. If you read only the words to this book, you'd think Fergus was the perfect dog, but when you look at the illustrations quite the opposite is true.
Young children love this mismatch and play between the words and the pictures making it a good book for discussion about inferring. After hearing the story, the books are easy for emergent readers to return to reread over and over again. Another must-have.
You thought #3 would be another dog book, but that would have only worked if I would have chosen The Pigeon Wants a Puppy. Instead I chose this one, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! I know you've all seen it, but it is a "must have" for children.
In this story the pigeon has a burning desire to drive a bus. Mo Willems, who also writes his own books and draws his own pictures, sets up this story as if the pigeon is directly talking to the reader to get permission to drive the bus. There is a lot of begging and pleading to drive the bus. Will he be permitted to drive it? You'll have to read to find out. (The pigeon also does his own tweeting on Twitter. If you're not following him you should be. Lots of laughs.)
Young readers enjoy the speech bubbles and young writers quickly want to give them a try. This is one of those stories children want to hear over and over again. It's also another book emergent readers can hear and then read over and over again.
What is a list of picture book must-haves without a wordless picture book? There are many good wordless picture books to share with students. Wordless picture books are great for discussion and for language development. (Susan, of The Book Maven's Haven, discusses the benefits of wordless picture books and has suggestions for using them with children here.)
I stumbled upon this book, the most recently published book in my 10, last year. It was a hit in our classroom. In this story, some children go to the playground where they find a bag of chalk. When they use the chalk to draw pictures the drawings come to life. You can imagine the problem when one of the children draws a dinosaur on the playground. This book is perfect for demonstrating to young writers that a story can be told with pictures. As readers, much thinking goes into understanding this book. It provides many opportunities for teaching.
My class spent much time debating whether the events "really" happened in the story or whether the kids imagined it. They loved talking about what they would draw with this special chalk.
I seem to have a collection of books with beautiful language (except the wordless book above, but students create beautiful language for it) and this book is no exception. Kitten is out for the night and sees, what she thinks is, a bowl of milk in the sky. She tries and tries to get the bowl of milk, but with little luck.
Children are always caught by the repetitive phrases Kevin Henkes uses in this book which are characteristic of much of his work. Children chime in on repeated phrases like "Poor Kitten!" and "Still, there was the little bowl of milk, just waiting." repeat throughout the story. In addition to trying repetition, writers like to try the way Henkes uses several frames of pictures on a page to tell about a series of events.
Mem never lets down a crowd, and this book is no exception. Maybe it's because I can hear Mem Fox whispering in my ear that if I'm going to read her book to my class I better put my heart and soul in it, or maybe there's something about the arrangement of words, but I swear her books must be magic. Students love them! They love to listen to them being read over and over again. They love to reread them and take them home.
This story is about the pirate, Boris von der Borch. Boris is a pirate like all other pirates, but he has a soft spot in his heart for his pet parrot. This book is one of my favorites because of the see-saw structure of the text. "He was massive. All pirates are massive." This pattern continues throughout the story. It is a pattern readers can readily see, and writers can easily try.
Students can easily identify with Ladybug Girl. Mom is busy, and big brother has plans, so Lulu is told she'll have to find things to do on her. This is no problem for this imaginative child. Like any super hero, Ladybug Girl, can get through anything. Lulu is one of those strong characters developed exceptionally well by the author which makes this book an excellent choice for character discussions.
Eileen Spinelli is one of the authors I've recently fallen in love with for my classroom. She has such a wide variety of texts of varying topics and varying styles. This book is about a stray cat who has kittens in an abandoned building. Unfortunately, the building catches on fire and her kittens are lost in the heat and smoke. Will they be safe?
This book tops my list for read alouds which make great discussion about various thinking strategies used in reading. In my first grade classroom we work determine the difference between a good citizen and a hero. This book is perfect for helping kids to begin to gain an understanding of heroism. Is this cat a hero?
Of course, my favorite thing about this book is the author's note in the back. Here Eileen Spinelli discusses an article she read in the newspaper about a homeless cat who rescued her kittens from a building that was on fire. She wrote the story to honor the 10th anniversary of this rescue. (Another reason it is perfect for our 10 for 10 event. Sorry, I just couldn't resist.) It is powerful for students to see the connections authors make which give them ideas for their writing. Ideas are everywhere.
On a side note, Eileen Spinelli's website is one of my favorite author sites. Make sure you stop by her monthly poetry post. A delight!
This book is one of the best read alouds of all time, in my opinion. In this story Jean is a recess bully. She always got her way, and if anyone gave her trouble she'd "push 'em and smoosh 'em, lollapaloosh 'em, hammer 'em, slammer 'em, kitz and kajammer 'em." Scary, huh. That's how it was on that playground until a new girl named Katie Sue came.
This book, like the Great Gracie Chase, is perfect for reading aloud. Changes in print size and placement cause the reader to slow down, speed up, change volume, and adjust intonation. At one point in the story, Katie Sue stands up to Mean Jean and the other children stop. At this pivotal point the story reads, "No one spoke. No one moved. No one BREATHED." No matter how big the group, this point in the story has always silenced the room. You could hear a pin drop as they wait to see what Mean Jean does.
My friend, Deb, sold me on this book. She actually tried several times. She kept handing it to me, and I kept passing it back. Finally one day, I really needed a book to help one of my young writers. He was a terrific illustrator; drawing trucks, cars, space ships, animals, etc.. I kept trying to help him to take these drawing and turn them into characters with stories, but he wasn't buying what I was selling. That's where I Stink came to the rescue. I needed a good mentor text for making books about cars, trucks, trains, etc.. So, Deb handed it to me again, but this time I really took a close look. I was sold. I purchased a copy of this book, and other books by Kate & Jim McMullin, this summer. Children will enjoy having them in our classroom library.
Stink is a garbage truck who tells about his day on the job. This book has so much voice. You feel like you're chatting with Stink. The author uses text placement, punctuation, and changes in font to help the reader read the book the way it was intended.
Choosing 10 books every classroom must have was a real challenge --- much more than I had anticipated. There are so many terrific authors, and so many well loved picture books. The hardest part was not having a list that is characteristic of everything I think it is important to have in my classroom library. In our library I want students to be able to find a variety of genres including fiction, nonfiction, literary nonfiction, fairy tales and poetry. Our library needs to be multicultural. I want all of my students to be able to find themselves in our library. I work to find books that appeal to the interests of boys, girls, builders, singers, budding scientists, and pet lovers. This list of 10 in no way manages any of that.
Most of the books I chose are books with strong characters and powerful language. I've discussed some ways they can be used in the classroom. Some are perfect mentors for writing, and others are better for anchoring conversations in reading. However, books that are this well written can work for about anything we are teaching in the classroom, especially the myriad of reading strategies readers must use to understand stories.
Most importantly, all of the books listed above are loved by children. I've realized my list are all picture books I love to read aloud, and books students love to listen to over and over again. Mem Fox reminds us, "The literature I heard, rather than read, as a child resonates again and again in my head whenever I sit down to write." (p. 68, Radical Reflections).
So these are my 10 --- for today --- August 10th. We'll see about tomorrow....