Teachers for Teachers | August Picture Book 10 for 10
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August Picture Book 10 for 10

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Since we are new to using social media (3 weeks and counting) this is our first time participating in the 10for10 picture book event and we are thrilled to be a part of it.   We can’t believe how much we are learning via social media.  – Where have we been?
Thank you to Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek for hosting this amazing event.  We are looking forward to reading everyone else’s posts and adding new books to our collections.

So now that we decided to participate in 10for10picture books, we had to figure out how to choose our top 10 books.   This is a hard task for us given that we are picture book junkies, our houses (and storage bin) are filled with books, and there are two of us!   We decided to see what would happen if we each brainstormed a list of picture books for 1 minute.  We set a timer and began writing.  What was so funny was that when we compared lists we had many of the same titles written down.   I guess that is what happens when you work together for 20 years.   Here are the books that were on both of our lists.  These books are not in any particular order but are simply the ones we use again and again in classrooms.

smDot1. The Dot, By Peter Reynolds

We love how this book shows the difference a teacher can make in a student’s life.  When the teacher asked her student, Vashti, to sign her work, Vashti understood that someone believed in her.   At the end of the story, Vashti becomes an artist and inspires another student by repeating the three simple words that her teacher said to her, “Please sign it.”   We have used this book in K-5 classrooms and are amazed at how this story engages readers of all ages.    It is a simple story with a big message.

97801405645322.  Tough Boris, By Mem Fox

We have so much fun reading this book aloud in K-5 classrooms.  When we begin reading students think the book is a simple repetitive text.  Younger children chime in with the repetitive lines and older children complain, “This is a baby book.”    As the story continues, students stop repeating lines and become captured by the illustrations and the plot.  Once the book has ended, readers can’t stop talking about the text.  This book generates conversation about stereotypes (even pirates cry), the importance of remembering that everyone has feelings and what it means to lose someone special.  The illustrations by Kathyrn Brown are a big part of this text. Students love talking about what the violin symbolizes throughout the illustrations.

blackout3. Blackout By John Rocco

We are always on the lookout for picture books that are short, engaging and have a deep message.  Blackout fits this description.  Although the text has very few words it has a powerful message about the importance of spending time with the people you love.

KNUFFLE4.  Knuffle Bunny, Mo Willems

Every time Mo Willems write a new book, we run out and buy it.   His books make us laugh out loud and when students see a new book by Mo Willems, they all want to read it.  Out of all of his books, however, we think Knuffle Bunny is our all-time favorite.   We use this story in classrooms again and again.    The miscommunication between Trixie and her parents is a common problem that so many children understand.

Although we use this text during both reading and writing workshops, we use it most frequently as a mentor text for writing personal narratives.   This book is great for showing younger writers the importance of choosing topics from their every day lives and how to take that one small moment and stretch in out by using specific actions and dialogue.

Grandfather Twilight 05.  Grandfather Twilight, Barbara Berger

We first learned about this book when we read Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller.  After reading about it we went right out and ordered it and we have been using it ever since.  The plot is a bit mysterious and leaves the reader wondering exactly what is happening.    When we read it aloud to kids they have so many questions and theories about the text.

What do the pearls symbolize?

Why is the dog in so many parts of the text?

Is he grandfather twilight?

What is twilight?

This book is the perfect text for teaching students to ask questions as they read and the importance of rereading a text with a question or purpose in mind.

RollerCoaster6.  Roller Coaster By Marla Frazee

Clare first read this book to her own children because they love roller coasters so much.   Now we both use it in classrooms.   Like Knuffle Bunny, this is another great mentor text for writing personal narratives and fiction.   Marla Frazee has taken a very familiar topic but told a story in a very specific way.   Young writers can see how the author intentionally weaves the character’s initial fear of roller coasters into the story and then shows her excitement about roller coasters at the end.   It is one of our favorite examples of “show, don’t tell.”

Each Kindness7.  Each Kindness By Jacqueline Woodson

When we first read this book we couldn’t stop talking about it.     When we read this book to the students, they couldn’t stop talking about it.  The students wanted a happy ending and this book didn’t give them one.   We read this book aloud in workshop with teachers and also use it during demonstration lessons.  It is definitely one of our all time favorite picture books.

51PR9GN5M7L8.  Sophie Gets Angry By Molly Bang

This is also a favorite text of ours to use during writing workshop.   As writers “read like writers” and analyze this next they notice so much.   They notice how Molly Bang begins her story with action, drawing the reader in.  They notice the intentional repetition of words such as, “red, red, roar” and “really, really angry”.  They also notice the use of colors in the illustrations.  When the character Sophie is angry Molly Bang used reds and oranges in her illustrations.  As Sophie calms down, Molly Bang chooses cooler colors like blues and greens.  Of course we didn’t notice this when we first read the text but the kids saw it right away.

NoDavid9.  No, David! By David Shannon

Even though this book only has sixty words, it is a powerful text.   In this short text David Shannon has managed to write a book with an important message about unconditional love that is both hysterical and easy to read.  We think you can teach just about everything in the CCSS Literature Standards with No, David!  It has character development, theme, point of view, an interesting structure and very clear word choice.  Readers love to compare and contrast this text with the other stories about David.

the-other-side_large10.  The Other Side By Jacqueline Woodson

We know we probably shouldn’t have two books by the same author on our top 10 list but we couldn’t leave either one out.   The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson is a book that once you read it, you never forget it.   It is a story about racial segregation told from a child’s point of view.  Readers can easily relate to the characters and see how racial segregation impacts these characters lives.   The fence in the text and in the illustrations is a clear symbol of segregation.   Because the symbolism of the fence is so clear in this book once readers understand this symbol they are able to find symbols when reading other texts.

These are our top 10 for today but after we post this list we will probably think of another book that should have been on this list.    It will be fun in future years to look back at this list and add new titles.   We can’t wait to learn about the books that you love.

  • Avatar
    Deb Nance at Readerbuzz
    Posted at 14:12h, 10 August Reply

    Great list! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Here’s my list: Top Ten Edgy Picture Books.

  • Avatar
    Posted at 15:12h, 11 August Reply

    Perhaps the two of you have stumbled upon a fun new children’s literature game. In one minute, list characters that make you laugh. In one minute, list books set in the winter.

    You have selected 10 great titles for discussion.

    Welcome to the fun!

  • Avatar
    Elisabeth Ellington
    Posted at 13:22h, 12 August Reply

    What a wonderful list! I especially appreciated the details of how you use these books in teaching. I may try to incorporate Knuffle Bunny in my college comp class for memoir this fall–it’s certainly one of my favorite books! Becoming active in social media has enriched my professional life so much–welcome!

  • Avatar
    Posted at 13:47h, 13 August Reply

    Great list. I placed Roller Coaster and When Sophie Gets Angry on hold for my own kids. Thanks!

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