Here, in no particular order, are my 10 picture books I could not do without (with the caveat "for the time-being). I can't tell you how many times I read a book to my students and have said, "This is my NEW favorite picture book!!" They just roll their eyes at me.
I hope you enjoy some of my favorites - and please comment if you have any novel ways that you use these books in your own library or classroom.
My Best Friend
by Mary Ann Rodman & illustrated by E. B. LewisI love this book for so many reasons. The realistic illustrations in watercolor that make you want to jump right in the pool, the African American families portrayed, and of course, the subject matter: the difficulty of wanting so badly to be friends with someone who just doesn't seem to want to reciprocate! I use this book at the end of the school year because of the pool setting and because many children will be in new environments during the summer where making and keeping friendships may suddenly become a challenge.
The Summer My Father Was Ten
by Pat Brisson
This is one of two books this year that made me cry or choke-up while reading to my students. This story about the narrator's father tells about a vegetable garden in a vacant lot and an act of destruction. It is interesting to see the differing reactions from different grade levels when I read this book. Some practically cheer when the gang of boys start throwing the tomatoes while other grade levels will sit in uncomfortable and complete silence. A wonderful book.
Testing the Ice: A True Story About Jackie Robinson
by Sharon Robinson & illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Okay, here's the book I cried over while reading it to my third graders. It was the ending that got me. This is a true story told by Jackie Robinson's daughter about her father as a father, not as a famous baseball player. It involves a frozen pond, courage, and dads just doing what dads will often do for their children.
Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
I read Swamp Angel to my multiage classes (grades 1 and 2) and they were completely riveted by the language of this book. The book was a nice addition to their fairytale/tall tale/pourquoi tale units, plus the illustrations are just magnificent.
by Howie Schneider
Chewy Louie is just a great book. From its humorous illustrations to the poor predicament of Louie's family. My students love spotting what Louie has chewed in each picture and I can feel the tension build as they wonder if Louie will sent away. And of course the message could very well be a tear-jerker too: pets (and people) get older and their annoying but endearing habits often fade away. SNIFF!
by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler
So many elements come together to make The Gruffalo one of my favorite picks. The rhyming is just perfect, the illustrations are vibrant, and it is useful when teaching animal sounds or habitats. It also have one of my favorite last lines: "The mouse found a nut and the nut was good."
by Coleen Salley and illustrated by Janet Stevens
This may be one of those books where I get a bigger kick out of it than the kids. That poor possum wearing a diaper! That frustrated Auntie! Those baffling directions! My only wish is that I could hear some reading this story with just the right accent and pronunciation. Any leads on that one?
by Mem Fox
I had never heard or read this book before this year and I don't think I would have liked it as much if it hadn't been read by my high school senior Intern...from Australia. The words will just never have the same meaning when I read it in my shabby accent (recovering Bostonian slathered with Virginia twang).
by Donald Hall and illustrated by Barbara Cooney
I have a soft spot in my heart for this book and I'll tell you why. Many, many years ago I watched a PBS documentary on the poet Donald Hall and his poet wife Jane Kenyon. I fell totally in love with the both of them. When my son was born I mailed a copy of Ox-Cart Man to Mr. Hall - addressing the envelope something like "Donald Hall, poet, New Hampshire". Sure enough it came back with a typed letter and a wonderful inscription to my son. When I mentioned this to Mr. Hall after finally meeting him at the National Book Festival he seemed not to understand at first, but then said, after autographing another of his books for me, "I'm so glad I did that." Me too.
Sydney Rella and the Glass Sneaker
by Bernice Myers
Call me nostalgic for the style of the illustrations but I just love this Cinderella spoof - plus the boy twist make it especially refreshing.
And those are my 10 for August 10. YIPES! August 10 already! Enjoy!