Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The "Final" List: August 10 for 10 Picture Book Event

The Event
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.

The List
OK...the moment 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):

1. The Great Gracie Chase by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Mark Teague.

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!

2. Good Boy, Fergus written and illustrated by David Shannon

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.

6. Tough Boris, written by Mem Fox, illustrated by Kathryn Brown

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.

7. Ladybug Girl, written by David Soman, illustrated by Jacky Davis

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!

9. The Recess Queen, written by Alexis O'Neill, illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith

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.

A Reflection
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....


  1. Hi Cathy and Mandy -- Here is my list. It was very difficult, but spent lots of time poring over my picture books, so I had a lot of fun during the process. Thanks for hosting!!!


  2. Hi Cathy, Happy August 10 for 10! Thank you and Mandy for this amazing idea. Here is my top 10!


  3. Yay! Your first event is finally here! Congratulations and thanks so much for including me. Here is the link to Part 1 of my list. Will post Part 2 later this evening! ;)


  4. Good morning Cathy and Mandy!

    This was so fun! Narrowing the list down to 10 made me really think about my reasons for wanting to keep books on my list. This would be a good activity for our students to do throughout the year...work on those critical thinking skills! Thanks for hosting!!:) My list is posted at http://www.raisingreadersandwriters.com

  5. So much fun already to read your list and Mandy's...I am off to read some more. Great idea! (ps left my link @ Mandy's)

  6. Hope this is a smashing success, here's my list:

  7. Hooray! The day has arrived! Cathy, your list is so contemporary, you cutting-edge teacher, you! Here's the link to my top ten arranged by month (with runners-up, sorry, couldn't resist), plus a list of children's videos I couldn't live without.


    Thanks again to you and Mandy! I can't wait to read them all.

  8. Cathy and Mandy--Wow, what an exciting day! Thank you both for hosting such a fabulous event!
    Here's a link to my post for today.
    love lots and thanks,
    Ann Marie


  9. My list is definitely not all inclusive, but I gave it a shot!

  10. Okay--I'm not so great with this posting stuff..... I'm trying again to see if this works. Thank you Cathy and Mandy for creating and hosting such an amazing event! I have to hit the bookstore today!
    love and thanks,
    Ann Marie

    Here's the link to my post

  11. Hi, Cathy and Mandy. This idea was so much fun that I joined in, too. I'm a volunteer tutor; I hope I can squeak in! My post is at my blog, Chicken Spaghetti.

    "10 Books First Graders Like"


  12. What fun! Here is the link to my list.

  13. Ok, here is my list. As everyone else said, this was hard! I tried to pick 10 books I'd use in my "home classroom" with my babies. I'm probably going to try "I stink" first off of your list. I think my 2 year old would love it and I've never read it! Thanks so much for hosting. Here is my link:

  14. I think I'm leaving my link to two places after all of the thinking about my 10 I'm so confused! Oh well here are my 10 PICKS FROM THE PIT!

  15. That Jog the Web feature is AWESOME. I'd never seen it before. Thank you for including me in the roundup. I've having a great time jogging and reading.

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  18. Wow! Wow! Wow! Thanks everyone for joining this event. I've already found too many books I want to add to my classroom library. $$$ (The kids don't need back to school clothes, do they?)

    I love everyone's personal spin on the event. I've had many a laugh today. Please check the jog (link is in first paragraph) to be sure your blog is linked correctly (and make sure Mandy & I both get your blog linked before the day is over). I think I have everyone, to Bill's comment, added. We're at 23 posts so far today, and it's just after lunch EST...our west coast friends are just getting their coffee.

    I was thrilled to have a few of my Twitter colleagues from Canada join the event, and I'm hoping we'll get a few posts from other countries. Since joining Twitter I'm fascinated by the idea of the books classrooms around the world are enjoying. Hmmm. Maybe I'll figure that out....

    Remember there are also a lot of tweets on the event at #pb10for10.

    Thanks again! So fortunate to be part of this smart and caring blogging community.

  19. here is my list for the 10 for 10 thanks for doing this I had alot of fun: http://lettersnumbersandbooksohmy.blogspot.com/2010/08/august-10-for-10-picture-book-event-my.html

    following you in google now :)

  20. August 10 for 10: Part 2 is posted. Thanks again Cathy! This has been great!


  21. Thank you for inviting me to join in! I loved reading your post and will have to add many books to my list. It took some time to pick only ten. I also find it interesting that I am reading comments that these are my 10 for today or now. I said the same thing on my post.


    And I am off to jog and read. Thanks again you two.

  22. Here is my list for the '10 for 10'. I enjoyed telling about some of my treasured books, and really enjoyed all other posts - now to find some of them in our school library. Cheers, Brette.

  23. Cathy----I just finished uploading my blog post...


    Debbie Reese
    American Indians in Children's Literature

  24. I'm going to have to find a second (or third) job to pay for all of the book that I must now add to my collection!
    This was an awesome idea!!!

  25. Loved pouring over favorite books for this event! Fell in love with even more reading everyone's post!

    Here's the link to my blog post: http://teachinginthetechfrontier.blogspot.com/2010/08/august-10-for-10-picture-book-must.html

  26. Excellent job! I have just posted 100 books each to be read aloud in K and 1 at my blog...and didn't get my 10for10 done! I LOVE it that you are doing this, however!

    Susan @ Lenses on Literacy

  27. Wow! What a day. I think I have everyone linked to here. Thanks for all the thoughtful posts. Now I need some time to read, reflect on the posts, and make a shopping list!

    Special thanks to Mandy, from Enjoy & Embrace Learning, my co-conspirator. Thanks for spinning ideas with me. This has been a great experience.

  28. I am little late with my post-just call me a rookie
    My address is: http://teachingin21.blogspot.com

  29. I just posted by 10 for 10 at http://www.keenepubliclibrary.org/content/10-10-picture-books.

    Thanks for the inspiration.

  30. Great idea. I'm tardy to the party, as usual, but I had a hard time choosing! Here's the link to my post: http://proseandkahn.livejournal.com/140406.html

  31. Thank you again for pulling this together! I have had so much fun tonight reading everyone else's lists. Can't wait to hunt down some of these books! Can we make this an annual tradition! Or maybe more often?

  32. This event was so much fun - I can't wait to read EVERYONE's list.

    P.S. My kids also love The Rain Came Down, by David Shannon. We have the audio CD that accompanies the book and it's so lovely I like to listen to it even without them. Reminds me of the audio records I had as a child...

  33. Carol, I think it would be great fun to do again --- and I think everyone has another 10 books they could discuss. Just a hunch. I'm so glad so many people participated and posts keep coming in to our blogs. We'll keep adding them so everyone can benefit from all of the thinking shared. What a great resource!

  34. Hi, Cathy.
    Thanks for your kind words about CHALK and for including it on your list. Reading that your students enjoyed it and that it was helpful in your classroom really made my day!!
    All The Best,

  35. Thanks for the fun. You can view my list at: http://all-en-a-days-work.blogspot.com

    Of course, I did a dozen... couldn't seem to narrow it and I forgot "The Table Where Rich People Sit" which rounds out a perfect baker's dozen!

  36. I am the owner and founder of The Itty-Bitty Bookworm, a literature-based preschool curriculum.
    Thank you for making my job so much easier. This will be a great resource for me to use when selecting titles for our future curricula.

    I would love for you to review our curriculum. If you are interested, shoot me an email.

    Thanks, again!

  37. Cathy--I hope you and Mandy are sleeping in today! What a great day yesterday!
    Lots of books to read and buy! Yay!

  38. Just found out about this event through the blog American Indians in Children's Literature. I'm so glad I did.
    I will post a link from my blog (Apples with Many Seeds - http://applewithmanyseedsdoucette.blogspot.com/) recommending this wonderful list of blogs and books. I've added several titles to my shopping list. Thanks for this.

  39. I love The Recess Queen....as an elementary school counselor I use it lots!

  40. I just reviewed 4 wonderful children's picture books that can teach English or Spanish. They are Mom's Choice Award winning books published by Raven Tree Press and brought to life on the iPad, iPhone, and iTouch by Storychimes. Extremely entertaining AND educational for ONLY .99¢. Be sure to check out Marco Flamingo, Nathan Saves Summer, Beautiful Moon, and A Walk With Grandpa. My kids can't put them down and are already learning Spanish! They also love to read the printed books on their own.

  41. HI!!! I'm apparently a year late and another year short in coming to this party. I found your link from The Miss Rumphius Effect blog roll. I've read 7 of your must-have's. I'll try my best to remember the party for next year. Wondering if getting a linky list to embed on your site for the main 10 for 10 challenge would be easier for readers to link to your site and others to click through participant's links to their own list. Just a thought. Looking forward to next year!