The other morning I checked Tweetdeck and this is what I found.
I was ready to respond, “Yes, count me in” without even checking out the link. We literacy lovers will do anything for each other.
Once I visited Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community, I knew for certain I wanted to participate in this special event. Fortunately, I had brought home my picture book collection with a goal of reviewing and organizing it this summer.
I am passionate about Reader’s Workshop and use picture books in every mini lesson. Along with teaching comprehension strategies (activating prior knowledge, making connections, visualizing, etc.) I integrate the use of them with story elements (character, plot, setting, and theme.) Below is my top 10. I’ve organized them by story elements, but saved my all time favorite for last!
Character: The heart of the story.
Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban, Pictures by Garth Williams
This is one of the best-loved characters in children’s literature. This book helps students focus on how characters reveal themselves in everyday situations. With the right dramatic voices, this book is an attention grabber and creates an intimate atmosphere where students can make meaningful connections.
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney (Winner of the American Book Award)
This breathtaking and moving story follows the main character from childhood through old age as she helps make the world a better place. This book reveals how a character’s life story can provide clues to who the person is on the inside. Students learn to make inferences and determine importance.
Crow Boy by Taro Yashima (Caldecott Honor Book)
In this book we meet a “tiny boy” who is different and left out from the group. He is an unusual, yet sympathetic character. This book shows students how and why a character can change. Students learn to synthesize information and change their thinking.
Ming Lo Moves the Mountain by Arnold Lobel
Using traditional folktale repetitive structure, students watch Ming Lo struggle with his problems. This book provides a clear and simple problem/solution plot and provides students with a way to make predictions and summarize events.
Brave Irene by William Seig
By using a fairy tale setting and humor, students find themselves in an adventure packed adventure. Through this book, students learn how one problem can lead to more problems. It provides opportunities for children to visualize, make connections and summarize events.
When I was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant
We learn about the author’s childhood in the Appalachian Mountains and rural life. The author uses repetitive language, which helps students focus on the many clues that describe the setting. Students can practice visualizing and inferring by learning about a character’s life.
The Day of Ahmed’s Secret by Florence Parry Heide and Judith Heide Gilliland
This book provides an excellent opportunity for students to learn about life in unfamiliar settings as well as a culture different from their own. The main character travels through the streets of Cairo, Egypt on his journey to show his family his accomplishment. Opportunities to make inferences, summarize, synthesize and most importantly, visualize are provided throughout the story.
Theme: what is the message of the story?
Brother Eagle, Sister Sky: A Message from Chief Seattle Pictures by Susan Jeffers
More than 100 years ago, Chief Seattle gave a speech encouraging people to take care of the earth. Along with the eloquent words, students will see some of the most breathtaking illustrations. This book helps students explore a theme that addresses a world problem. They can activate their prior knowledge, make connections and synthesize and determine importance. (Perfect for Earth Day.)
Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters (An African Tale) by John Steptoe (Caldecott Honor Book)
Based on an African tale, we meet two very different daughters who want to win the King’s heart. The enthralling story provides a powerful message about the value of goodness and kindness. The illustrations are stunning and help send the message of the beauty of love. Students learn how a character’s actions and choices reveal a theme as they infer and synthesize.
All categories: Favorite Picture Book of all Time
Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran, Illustrated by Barbara Cooney
This book touched and charmed me the very first time I read it. Not a year of teaching has gone by where I did not read this book – regardless of the age. Along with character, plot, setting and theme and all of the comprehension strategies, it promotes imagination. It is a magical book that never diminishes in appeal or beauty.