It's here! Today is our second annual picture book event: August 10 for 10. If you love picture books, you'll love this event which I'm excited to be hosting with Mandy Robek. For weeks we've all been wrestling with the 10 picture books we just can't live without in our worlds. You'll find picture books for your classroom, your library, and your bookshelves at home in this year's collection of posts. If you'd like to have your blog linked to the conversation, just comment with the link for your picture book list here or at Enjoy and Embrace Learning. You can also send us a link on Twitter using the event hashtag #pb10for10. If you don't have a blog, but would like to join, there are lots of ways to participate.
Authors We Can't Live Without
Last year, I shared my list of 10 picture books I just couldn't live without. This year I'm going to share 10 picture book authors I could not live without in my classroom. I cannot even begin to imagine how I would teach without a collection of picture books. The authors of these books are such a part of the discussions that take place in our learning community. They are the books we read to learn, laugh, and talk together. Not only do these authors help us to grow our reading lives, but they also help us to learn to live the life of a writer. Authors are an essential part of our classroom. Here are some must-have authors:
Eve Bunting is an author I just can't live without in my classroom. Her books are perfect for young readers no matter what the grade level. ANYtime I need a book that is a good mentor text for writing or a read aloud that will evoke discussion I know I can go to his author to find a book that will work. Most of her books are written in first-person from the point of view of the main character. Choosing a favorite is a bit of a challenge, but children always enjoy Ducky written by Bunting and illustrated by David Wisniewski. Bunting wrote this book after reading about a box of plastic toys lost at sea (book includes an author's note). In this story, Ducky spends days lost at sea hoping to be saved. He has to be brave as he tries to survive.
Mem Fox is one of those authors children just love. I'm always amazed by the reactions her books get when being read aloud. I love Mem Fox's books for young readers and writers for the very reason she wrote them; they put the sounds of language into the hearts and and minds of children. Children love to hear books written by Mem, and those books then turn into great writing mentors in our classroom. Young writers can learn a lot about language, repetition, and story from Mem. I couldn't live without Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild by Fox and illustrated by Marla Frazee. My classes always love this story about a small girl, Harriet, who seems to have a hard time staying out of trouble and a mom who sometimes finds it hard to be patient.
I must admit I was a little slow to get on the Mo bus. However, it didn't take me long to realize the power his books had with children. Mo is a bit like Mem in that as an adult I look at his books and say, "That's a pretty good story." Then kids get ahold of the books and shout joyously as they turn the pages. Children seem to come alive at the crack of a story by Mo Willems. Now my classroom is full of Mo Willems books. My students just can't get enough of his books. They are a perfect way for emergent readers to choose real picture books in the classroom and not just leveled readers. So I have to choose a favorite? Just one? I think my class from last year would want me to tell you about Elephants Cannot Dance. In this story Piggie tries to teach Gerald how to dance, but no matter how hard he tries he just can't move like Piggie. Will Gerald ever find his groove?
David Shannon is the perfect author for a classroom full of beginning readers. Shannon's character, David, is always one of the characters students love most in our classroom. I can't imagine starting a year without David Goes To School. In this story, David seems to have a hard time following the rules of the classroom. As in many of Shannon's books, the pictures tell the real story. This is good book for beginning a conversation about ways to make the classroom a place for learning and how each of us can help to do that.
Every classroom has to have a collection of books by Robert Munsch. How can young readers resist stories in which the adults are always a mess and the children always save the day? The repetitive phrases in Munsch's books make them easy for young readers to reread after the story has been read to them. Kids love the humor in Robert Munsch's work and his books are always being taken home from our classroom. Again, picking a favorite is tough, but I'm going to have to say Alligator Baby is always a hit. In this story, written by Munsch and illustrated by Michael Martchenko, Kristen's parents go to the hospital to have a baby but keep coming home with an animal baby instead of a people baby. It seems they got confused and went to the zoo instead of the hospital. Kids love guessing the animal as Kristen slowly lifts the blanket to find the new baby doesn't have "people" characteristics. Can Kristen save they day?
I love Todd Parr's books for the message, but the bonus is that young readers love them too. I think his books are perfect for the beginning of the year when students are first learning to use pictures to tell a story. Parr's use of shapes and bold colors are perfect for helping young writers begin illustrating their own stories. Being the literacy geek that I am, I couldn't live without Reading Makes You Feel Good (thanks, Deb Frazier). It is perfect for the start of the year as we begin our Reader's Workshop and share our love of reading. (Oh, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of his new book, The I'm Not Scared Book. Yes, I think I might have just bent the rules a bit and slid in an extra book.)
Eileen Spinelli is the perfect author to help teach the craft of writing. Spinelli varies her choice of crafting techniques in her books creating a strong collection of mentor texts for young writers. My favorite mentor text for young writers is In My Yellow Shirt. In this story a young boy receives a yellow shirt for his birthday. What would be considered by many to be an ordinary gift turns into an extraordinary gift as he shares all he can be in his new yellow shirt. This imaginative tale demonstrates the use of repetition, strong vocabulary, and a seesaw pattern of text among other techniques.
Kevin Henkes is another must-have author for any classroom. Children love listening to his stories. His new book, Little White Rabbit, is a book I just couldn't live without in my classroom. In this story, rabbit wonders what it would be like to be different. After each page in which little rabbit wonders what it would be like to be different, a beautifully illustrated double page spread shows what it might be like. For example, little rabbit wonders what it would be like to be tall. Readers turn the page to find a double page spread showing rabbit taller than the fir trees. A group of us have been discussing using wonder to frame discussions of inquiry in our classroom. Maria Caplin has shared Wonderopolis and an idea using wonder jars to start inquiry with students. I'm thinking this book might be perfect for a collection of books about wonder to help in this experience.
Amy Krouse Rosenthal
I really have to thank Franki Sibberson for this next author. She has often mentioned Amy Krouse Rosenthal in posts at A Year of Reading. Eventually I started to put two and two together and realized how many books I had by Rosenthal, and how many more I needed to check out. I'm still in the discovery stages of noticing all this author can offer the young readers and writers in my classroom. However, I'm quite sure she belongs on this list of must-have picture book authors. My students would want me to tell you about Duck! Rabbit!, but I'm going to suggest another favorite Little Hoot written by Rosenthal and illustrated by Jen Corace. In this story Little Hoot doesn't want to stay up all night like the owls. Will he ever talk his parents into letting him go to bed early? Kids love this play on tricking parents at bedtime.
Though these authors are in no particular order, I suppose it makes sense to end with the tried and true work of Eric Carle. I don't think I have to tell anyone about all that Carle's work teaches my young writers about illustrating and story telling. I love, that like Henkes, Willems, Parr and Shannon, Carle writes AND illustrates his own books just like the young writers in my classroom. They love the innovative ways he presents books to children and this usually inspires some innovation in student writing. Yes, Eric Carle brings out the scissors and the glue invariably...and a lot more. Not only are Carle's books perfect as writing mentors, readers love rereading his books over and over again. It is truly impossible to pick a favorite from Carle's collection, but I suppose A House For Hermit Crab ranks high on my list. In this story Hermit Crab gets too big for his shell and has to go out searching for a new home. Will he find the perfect home for him?
There they are; 10 authors I couldn't live without. A big thank you to the authors who share their stories in our classrooms shaping the reading and writing lives of the young children in our classrooms.