Several bloggers today are celebrating August 10th by answering the question: If you were stranded on an island and had to teach, what 10 picture books would you hope to have in your bag?
I love picture books and it was hard to choose just ten, but here they are, in no particular order:
1. The Ghost Eye Tree by Bill Martin Jr. and Jon Archambault and illustrated by Ted Rand. This book is great for making connections as two young children have to face their fear of a scary tree in the dark to run an errand for their mother. Students at any age can relate to having childhood fears and often like to write about them after reading The Ghost Eye Tree. I also use this book as a model for sentence fluency in writing.
2. Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems. This is another book that all students can make connections with. I love this story because little Trixie's attachment to her Knuffle Bunny reminds me so much of my daughter, currently 10 years old and still attached to her blanket, Pinkie. Of course her situation also creates connections with Kevin Henkes' Owen and his blanket, Fuzzy. Knuffle Bunny makes a great mentor text for teaching voice in writing as well.
3. The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant. I guess I must love using books that I know students can connect with! The language in this book is lyrical and beautiful.
4. HooWay for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester. The topic of this book is bullying and dealing with a personal trait that others make fun of, so once again, students of all ages can connect with this book where the little guy is the hero in the end. This book is also great for teaching voice in writing.
5. Airmail to the Moon by Tom Birdseye. I love, love, love reading this book out loud with a nice thick southern accent! This is another book that kids can connect to. But I like to pull it out when the accusations of theft start running rampant: "Someone stole my pencil." "Someone took my book!" Airmail to the Moon opens up a nice conversation about blaming other people before we check all options.
6. Terrible Things by Eve Bunting. This book, an allegory to the Holocaust, is one that I used when I taught 8th grade as an opener to a unit on the Holocaust. The message really sticks with students and they remember it through the unit. I used it during the unit, paired with a poem titled The Hangman by Maurice Ogden.
7. Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco. I love being able to recommend picture books to content teachers. Pink and Say is one of my favorite, which I share with the 8th grade social studies teacher when he is teaching about the Civil War. It is another that I enjoy reading aloud, even though I can't get through without shedding some tears. I use many of Patricia Polacco's books as mentor texts for writing personal narratives, and the fact that I have met her in person and had some books signed always awes my students!
8. Hello Ocean by Pam Munoz Ryan. This versatile title is one I use often. It is fantastic for helping readers learn to visualize. The imagery in the book makes it an excellent mentor text for writers wanting to add more imagery to their writing, and the organization of the information around the five senses makes it easily understandable and imitable. Using the bilingual version opens this title up to being used in Spanish class as well!
9. Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner. How much do I love this book! Skippyjon is my favorite little Siamese-cat-pretending-to-be-a-chihuahua. This book is silly but also sophisticated, making it great to teach clarifying and inferring to students. I also use this book as a mentor text when I do an "instead-of-said" lesson when writing dialogue.
10. Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander. Math is the toughest subject for me to assist teachers in integrating reading strategies. The Sir Cumference series of picture books makes my job a little easier.
Those are my picks! I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments about these and others that you like as well.