Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Cathy and Mandy challenged fellow bloggers to participate in 'TEN PICTURE BOOKS YOU COULDN'T LIVE WITHOUT' today. I don't know if I could pick one hundred picture books I couldn't live without and this list certainly is not anything close to inclusive of favorite books or authors, but here are a few of my favorites. Especially interesting to me was how my educational philosophy and beliefs kept showing up in my choices…

WOLF by Becky Bloom
This is probably my favorite picture book of all time. The main character, Wolf, is out scavenging for food one day when he comes upon three friends- a pig, a duck, and a cow, who are sitting in the sun reading. Instead of eating them, he embarks upon a journey to become a reader and ends up being a member of their "literacy club." I am a simple woman and this book encapsulates my whole theory of literacy instruction- that every kid needs to be surrounded by people who make him/her WANT to learn to read, then needs to TAUGHT the SKILLS AND STRATEGIES he/she needs, then needs lots of time to PRACTICE and become fluent. I use this book with kids every year, and I also often use it with adults when I do professional development.

2) SISTER ANNE'S HANDS by MaryBeth Loribecki- This is a book I have loved for a long, long time. Actually, I am not even sure it is in print any more. It's the story of a little girl attending elementary school in the 1960's. When she is in second grade (I think), her teacher, Sister Anne, is African American. Some parents, unhappy with this, remove their children from the classroom. Powerful lessons about respect and dignity and compassion, also about the power of one teacher in a child's life.

3) MOIRA'S BIRTHDAY- I believe communities consist of rituals and traditions. When I had a classroom, we read MOIRA'S BIRTHDAY and put that person's name in every time someone had a birthday. I probably read the book at least twenty times a year, the kids never got tired of it, and neither did I. I love Robert Munsch because his books elicit so much laughter, but also because they elicit rich discussions. Robert Munsch is a storyteller and his books are super readable so that even the most struggling reader in the class can manage them and become part of the literacy club.

5) SIT-IN by Andrea Pinkney- I want my kids to learn about history, about the hard choices people have made, and about the courage people have shown. I want them to say, "Did that really happen?" This book, about the lunch counter sit-ins, is one of my newest acquisitions.

6) LIFE SIZE ZOO- I want my classroom to be a place of wonder. I want book with pictures that are so dazzling and eye-catching that even the most reluctant reader can't wait to pick them up. LIFE-SIZE ZOO, with it's enormous and beautiful photographs is a book that every child will pick up and read. Nic Bishop is another photographer I have to have in my classroom library. Also Steve Jenkins' collage nonfiction.

7) THERE'S A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD by Mo Willems- I want my classroom to be a place of laughter, and this book, as well as others in this series, make me laugh every time I read it. Gerald and Piggy are great friends, and have wonderful friend adventures. They also have typical friend problems. This series and the PIGEON series are books all kids can read. Mo Willems is an author that never writes a bad book.

8) THOSE SHOES- Most of my students have hard, hard, hard lives. Many are being raised by grandparents, family friends, or foster parents. They live in a world of television and pop culture and see all of the things other kids have. NEW SHOES is about a little boy who lives with his grandmother. He desperately wants a pair of shoes his grandma can't afford. They find a pair at a thrift store, but the shoes don't really fit…

9) THE THREE BEARS by Paul Galdone- I believe that kids' oral language hugely impacts their ability not only to read, but also to write. Fairy tales and folk tales, which come from oral tradition, are one of the best ways I know to develop kids' innate understandings about story and book language. I read folk tales, fairy tales, trickster tales, Native American legends, and mythology to kids on a daily basis. Most of the time, I start with a fairly traditional version of the story. Paul Galdone's books are old (THREE BEARS was published in 1972, but they are really well done) then move into other versions. Books from this genre also develop understandings of culture and tradition so necessary to comprehending other literature.

10) TWILIGHT COMES TWICE by Ralph Fletcher
And of course I couldn't live without poetry. I love and use hundreds of poetry books. Ralph Fletcher is one of my favorite kids' poets. This book is extra special because Ralph dedicated it to me!


Esme Raji Codell said...

Wow, what an exciting list! It has a lot of "people power." WOLF! is one of the best books ever, I was so happy to see it as your flagship. Thanks for sharing!

Karen said...

Sit-In and Twilight Comes Twice were both in my finalists, but I didn't put them in top 10. They would easily qualify as much as the other books I posted. Tough assignment! :)

Am eager to look at the Sister book you mentioned.

Patrick A. Allen said...

I had a hard time creating my list at:

But, I loved your list! There were so many that I wish I would have added to mine.

Of course, one I missed was The Table Where Rich People Sit... it's one of my favorites.

Mrs. Johnson said...

Thank you for sharing your list! I am really excited about Wolf that is a new to me title. I look forward to getting my hands on it.

Mary Lee said...

Ah, yes. THOSE SHOES. Need to get that one out for an early read. Great list, friend!

(word verification is "savation" ...another term for what we do on a daily basis???)

Frazierd said...

WOW~ what a great message in your list! Wolf is a favorite in our room! I want the readers in our workshop to feel like they are the readers in this wonderful text!

@Patrick thanks for your comment, The Table Where the Rich People Sit is a loved book that I had sad!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

I loved your ideas here! I will be able to purchase more excellent picture books for my library based on this and the lists of others in the August 10 for 10.

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Let's share ideas.
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