Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 10 for 10: Picture Book "Must Haves"

This post is part of the August 10 for 10: Picture Book "Must Haves" being hosted by Mandy of Enjoy and Embrace Learning and Cathy of Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community.  

My name is Mary and I am a picture book addict. I am not kidding about this.  When I recently had to bring my own children's book collection home for a year and store it in our basement I was teased that I had enough books to open my own children's book store or library.  So when I had to narrow down all the wonderful children's books out there in the world down to 10 I had a little trouble.  I tried very hard to represent lots of different styles of writing and purposes for using these texts in my first grade classroom.  Here we go.....and in no particular order.....

The Great Fuzz Frenzy by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel

Helping young readers be able to develop the ability to create mental images while reading is a wonderful way to assist them in comprehending what they are reading.  I use this book when helping students learn this strategy.  I cover the outside of this book before reading it so they can't see the big tennis ball in the picture on the cover.  While listening to the story students are asked to draw what they think is happening in the story.  Not once in the text is it revealed to the students that the big fuzz is a tennis ball.  In the story the tennis ball is thrown down into the prairie dogs' burrow and "fuzzy foolishness" ensues.  It is always interesting to see what the students draw to show what they believe the fuzz to be.  Later in the day I reread the story and show the students the pictures and they are amazed to find out the fuzz was a tennis ball.    

The Deep Blue Sea Story by Audrey Wood  Illustrations by Bruce Wood

The colorful illustrations with this story pop off the page with vibrant colors and really support the text on the page.  Audrey and her son, Bruce, have done a superb job of creating a cumulative text story that builds starting with the deep blue sea.  Young students love that the color words appear in the color they are. They also love that the text builds upon itself and it helps them with their stamina of reading longer passages with familiar words.   Also, the purple parrot drawing is a riot to look at!  

A Fine, Fine School by Sharon Creech

I read this book aloud sometime during the first week of the school to help start the conversation of what students define as a "fine, fine school".  In the story the principal becomes overzealous in what he expects of his students and staff because of his pride in the school.  School on weekends, holidays and all summer long is what he would like.  The main character Tillie takes it upon herself to remind him there is more to learn in life than just school, for example how to climb trees.  I love this book because it reminds me that my students are children and need to learn more than just academics.  They need to learn how to solve puzzles, how to create things with their imagination and how to live in the world with one another. 

Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola

Strega Nona has been a favorite picture book of mine since I was a little girl.  As a reader I find it to be a fascinating tale full of magic and mischief.  My students love to listen to the tale as I stumble through the few italian words and use different voices for the characters of Strega Nona and Big Anthony.  They love to join in the short, repetitive song that gets the pot to boil pasta and the one to stop the pasta.  They are astonished when Big Anthony gets the magic pot to boil pasta but can't get it to stop and it fills the town until Strega Nona comes to the rescue.  Secretly the reason I love it so much - the never ending pasta pot.  I am a lover of spaghetti and was always jealous of Strega's ability to make pasta in such a cool way. 

Too Loud Lily by Sofie Laguna

Lily is a hippo with a loud mouth problem she can't help.  Everyone around her keeps reminding her that she is too loud.  One day a new teacher comes to town, Miss Loopiola, who recognizes Lily's unique gift. My students love this story for how over the top Lily is as a character. I love it because it reminds me (and the students) that each person in this world has a unique quality to offer.  

How I Became A Pirate by Melinda Long

September 19th is National Talk Like a Pirate Day and for some silly reason I love it!  My students make pirate hats when they get to school and we wear them all day and try to write and talk like pirates.  To get us in the mood I read aloud this tale of a small boy who gets roped into helping some pirates bury their treasure.  At first he loves the pirate life, but then he slowly realizes what he misses at home and leads the pirates to his backyard to bury their treasure.  

Welcome Comfort by Patricia Polacco
      The link will take you to the author's site where you can watch and listen to her read the first part of the story. 

Any book by Patricia Polacco could have made it on this list but I had to choose only one so I picked my favorite of all...Welcome Comfort.  This is a story of a little boy, Welcome Comfort, who didn't have much to believe in or look forward to and the friendship he develops with the school custodian, Quintin Hamp.  Through the years their friendship deepens and Welcome follows in Quintin's footsteps.  This story is full of all the wonder and magic that comes with the holiday season and of course the kids eat it up.  You have to read it to find out the special surprise! 

Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester

When it comes to hysterical characters that can get kids giggling Tacky the Penguin is one of the best out there!  Tacky seems to always be trying his best but his is just odd enough that he is a little off of what he should be doing.  Nevertheless, Tacky always comes through and saves the day for the other penguins with his comic relief. 

If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff

Students seem to really enjoy the collections of books by Laura Numeroff that follow a writing theme of giving an animal a treat which leads them down a path of requesting various items and then circles back to the original item.  These are great mentor texts for students use when writing.  A few years ago a class of mine decided to write a class version where each child was responsible for contributing a page.  The result was a hilarious book of "If You Take Miss Suchy To Hawaii".  I was the lead character and wish the story was based on fact! 

Where Is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox
  The link will take you to the author's website and you can hear her read this story aloud.  Highly recommend it! 

The wonderful Mem Fox put together a fabulous tale for young readers to be able to read with strong picture support, repetitive text and lots of sight words.  The students love to jump in on the repetitive text of "But where is the green sheep?".  At the end of course you find the green sheep, but when reading this text aloud it demands you to be dramatic in changing the volume of your voice for the grand finale.

There you have it everyone!  My 10 picture books I couldn't live without on August 10th.  

Feel free to post in the comment section a few of you "can't live without" picture books so then I have an excuse to go book shopping!