Thank you Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine and Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace Learning for hosting this event. We think it may be the most expensive cyber PD experience we've participated in thus far as our Amazon wish lists grow, but such a perfect way to launch into the new school year! Our hosts have graciously compiled a jog the web for our ease in keeping track of posts from participating blogs. The twitter hashtag is #pb10for10.
As we set out to accomplish the task of picking our top 10 picture books, we thought to ourselves that there is no way that we will be able to limit ourselves to just 10. We tried to narrow it down somehow by picking 10 books for a specific purpose (thinking this might help us stop at 10). We discussed picking 10 picture books that anchor our writing lessons. We also are planning on having mentor authors this year and thought we could pick 10 picture books from our group of authors. Finally, we decided on picking 10 picture books that we can use in multiple ways over many different mini-lessons throughout the year. So here they are (in no particular order):
1. Always in Trouble by Corinne Demas—This was the first year we used this book in mini-lessons, but it was an instant hit with our students! As we used it for the first time in shared reading, we realized that we could come back to this book repeatedly. This book is a great book to use for comprehension when teaching students how to make connections. We had started the year reading Cookie’s Week, which gave the kids an easy text-to-text connection (naughty animal gets into trouble each different day of the week). Students also connected Always in Trouble to No, David because of the trouble-making main character. Many students can also relate to this book because they have seen their cat or dog get into mischief at home as well (text-to-self connections). This book we used again during writing to teach the time period text structure (since it follows the days of the week). In addition, we will use this book this year as well to talk about illustrating a series (the dog does this and then this, with a separate picture for each thing the dog does).
2. No, David by David Shannon—This is another well-loved book in our classroom. Most of the copies we own have numerous pages taped back in because they are used so often! Like our the first book on our list, this book allows students to make connections. However, we also used this for another comprehension mini-lesson on inferring. This is a great book to use when you are teaching this skill for the first time to lower elementary students. There isn’t a lot of text, so students can really focus on the pictures to make their inferences. We have also used it to teach our students to use speech bubbles. They thoroughly enjoy mimicking David Shannon’s style in their own books!
Piggy and Elephant books by Mo Willems—We just don’t think we can pick a favorite in this series! These books are great for our early readers. We use these often for working on fluency, especially sounding like the character. These are also wonderful books to work on personal/social/character development with students. They are a great springboard for discussions about friendship and how to treat a friend. In writing, these books made a great example of a conversation text structure. We were able to discuss how some authors use speech bubbles rather than dialogue with quotation marks to carry on a conversation. Blank writing paper with pictures of Piggy and Elephant for students to create their own conversations/speech bubbles flew off the shelf like wild fire!
King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood—As we list each of our favorite books, we are again struck by not only how many ways we are able to use these books throughout the year, but by how much students enjoy each book as a wonderful piece of literature! This book helped students understand another type of text structure in writing. We talked about the fact that authors often have one repeating event in their stories but use different characters each time the event happens (i.e. different characters try to convince the king why he should get out of the bathtub). For the retirement of one of our coworkers, we used this text structure with students to create our own book called “Ms. Bushman’s on her iPad.” (Her family had given her an iPad for retirement and she was thrilled--some may even say addicted!) Students thought of things they could say to convince her to get off her iPad. What a great way to build social imagination in that students had to connect what they know about Ms. Bushman to generate an idea that would entice her to get off of her iPad. Contrast that to what may entice themselves or another person and you have a great dose of social imagination building.
The Great Gracie Chase by Cynthia Rylant—We studied this book in writing while discussing author’s craft (such as words in illustrations, ellipses, repeated phrases, etc.). This is a great book for shared reading as well because students LOVE to chime in on the repeated phrases! This book can also be used to teach predictions. Students can have fun trying to figure out what is going to happen with Gracie next.
6. A few years ago, we were invited to be surprise readers for a first grade classroom. We couldn’t help but grab Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. The emphatic line of the main character, a bunny, “It’s NOT a box,” creates quite a dramatic read aloud experience. Students can’t help but predict what the bunny is imagining the box to be next...after all it’s NOT a box. This book is also a great mentor text to show the question/answer structure. If that wasn’t enough, after reading Opening Minds by Peter Johnson we now see how Not a Box is a book that helps nurture a flexible attitude that may support the development of problem-solving skills because the book helps students imagine how a box could be used. (For more on this, see Opening Minds pp.60-61)
7. A great pairing to Not a Box is The Wonderful Book by Leonid Gore. Again, this book sparks students to imagine the different uses of a particular item. Various animals encounter a wonderful book and use it in their own creative way. Then, a boy comes along and shares the wonderful message of the book with animals. We love to take out our paper crimper (from scrapbooking) and ask students what it might be. It really helps them empathize with the animals encountering a new object and trying to figure out what it may be.
8. The Story of Ferdinand the Bull by Munro Leaf is a classic. Since many of our students haven’t heard this classic, it works well to engage students in predicting. What do students think will happen when the usually calm, pacifistic bull finds himself in the bull ring? We can’t help but wonder what messages/themes students will uncover in this story. We think about the message of what happens when we are quick to judge, and as a result don’t know the whole picture about a person. If the men hadn’t jumped to such a quick conclusion, they may not have picked Ferdinand for bullfighting. The reason Ferdinand made it on the top ten list is because it exemplifies the way music can add to the emotive sense of a story. We have a local university violin professor that performs Ferdinand. You can see his musical storytelling of the Tortoise and the Hare at youtube or you can purchase his CD that includes Ferdinand @ Amazon.
9. Press Here by Herve Tullet is a perfect tool to help what The Sisters call your "barometer children" build stamina. The author talks directly to the reader and instructs the reader to engage interactively. On page one there is a picture of a yellow dot and the text reads, “PRESS HERE AND TURN THE PAGE.” The reader finds two yellow dots on page two and another series of directions. The physical interaction catches the interest of our kinesthetic learners. This book also serves as a unique example of the circle story structure. Kids can use this book as a mentor text to guide their experimentation with circle story structure. It truly is a mentor text that makes circle story structure accessible to our youngest writers. Amazon has a short video demonstrating how interactive this book is.
10. Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed is one of our favorite books to use in lessons to uncover the author’s message. It is a story about tolerance and effecting change. Most mole rats go around naked, but not Wilbur. Wilbur wears clothes. Much of the mole rat community objects to Wilbur’s practices and a town meeting is called. When Grandpah, the oldest and wisest mole rat is asked to weigh in on Wilbur wearing clothes he asks, “Why not?” We reread this book when we need to change procedures in our classroom. For example, we started the year by having students put their writing workshop pieces in hanging file folders. When we saw that to be ineffective, we asked ourselves, “why not try it a different way?” Students who otherwise may be bothered by the change, quickly accept the new procedure
Since we didn’t include a non-fiction title, “Why not have an eleventh book on our list?” We only bend the rules in good faith and for a purpose--we need a non-fiction book on our list!
11. We greatly value non-fiction, so we regret that only one of our top ten (okay, yes 11) picture books represents the non-fiction genre! Boy, Were We Wrong about Dinosaurs! by Kathleen V. Kudlinski, an exemplar text listed in the CCSS, presents the evolution (yes, pun intended) of thought regarding the dinosaurs. The author presents former beliefs and then scientific evidence that led to a change in thinking. We value students recognizing their changes in thinking, in both fiction and non-fiction and feel this book does a great job of modeling the importance of revising one’s thinking as new information is gleaned. If you are looking for an example of how authors of non-fiction text use repeated phrases, this is a great example, too.
Sorry, there was no way to limit our list to ten. Let's just say that number 11 will be number 1 on our top ten non-fiction picture book list. More on that to come! Our third colleague just introduced us as "rule breakers" and at the time we couldn't imagine why she might happily don us such a title.