Friday, August 7, 2015

10 Picture Books I Can't Wait to Read With My New Class! #pb10for10

I love stories! I collect them the way some people collect coins or seashells. I am wonderstruck by the fact that there are stories EVERYWHERE and that EVERYONE has a story to tell. In fact, we all have heaps of stories to tell. I also love the fact that stories beget stories. You tell a story and it prompts everyone listening to recollect a similar or connected story of their own. There is so much power in that connectedness! Those connections build trust, commonality, empathy and community in the classroom and in life. I try to bring this passion for stories, for storytelling, storymaking and story-collecting into my classroom and I relish the opportunity to learn the unique and diverse stories of my students, to help them uncover their own beautiful hiSTORIES, to discover their unique voice and the courage to share their story, and to develop a passion for authoring a life story that they are proud to own. I especially love being a supporting role in the inspiring and exciting stories they are living. Stories matter. Our lives are our stories unfolding at every moment!

Every school year, I try to expose my students to as many stories as I can. I often find myself hoping that my students love our story sharing times as much as I do. Our classroom is teeming with books of every size, genre, style and reading level. I especially love when students read a book on their own, and love it so much that they are asking me to share it during our read aloud time! Those moments make my teacher-heart soar! Until they start making requests though, I have an arsenal of stories ready for those magical moments when we all gather together and explore a new story, and all the stories that one will ignite in our own memories and imaginations! Picture books are a great way to share stories with your students! Here is my #10for10 list in no particular order! (Each title links to the Amazon purchase page for the book, but if you have a local bookstore you love-I'm all about #shoplocal first!)

YOU AND ME by Susan Verde (Illustrated by Peter H Reynolds)
This year at ISTE, I was gifted a copy of this book autographed by Peter H. Reynolds and it has become a prized possession of mine because of the beautiful tribute to friendship that the story is, the fact that it's autographed by one of my favorite Authors, and the fact that it holds in it's pages the memories I have of meeting Mr. Reynolds, my new instant friend and #DotDay originator Terry Shay, and the beginnings of my partnership with FableVision as an ambassador. This book is a tribute to friendship and fate and the moments that bring us together with people we can't imagine life without! I can not wait to share this book with my students and see what stories of friendship it inspires in them! After last year's Global Read Aloud author study of Peter Reynolds, and celebration of International Dot Day, I will of course be bringing ALL of Peter's works back this year to inspire curiosity, creativity, & individuality in my students! (A separate blog on that to come!)

FIREBIRD by Misty Copeland
I absolutely love the way the words of this book dance and move as I read them. The book is written so poetically and my students love having a real life story of Grit and determination to inspire. I love the story but I especially love the way it leads into conversations about the "spaces between" who we are now and who we hope to be, where we have come from and where we want to go!

This is a fan favorite in my home and my classroom. Its a fun read aloud if you don't mind changing between two voices :) I love the fun illustrations, the giggle-inducing dialogue, and especially the message that we all have something important to contribute! I had to buy a new copy this year as last year's classroom copy was LOVED harder than the Velveteen Rabbit!

STAR STUFF by Stepanie Roth Sisson
I'm a self-professed space geek and I adore Carl Sagan. We all love sharing our passions in the classroom, and this is one way I do that! I absolutely LOVE the way Ms. Sisson captured Carl's story and personality and made his life and work so relatable and accessible to children of all ages. The week I shared this story last year, prompted many Wonderopolis and Google searches from my students during their center rotations, and I loved how the ideas and themes of the story sparked so much curiosity from all of my budding scientists!


I have loved this book for years! When I taught fourth grade I used to use it as an intro to our Friendly Letter Writing unit. This is the story (written in letter correspondence between a girl and her teacher) of a girl who befriends a whale in her backyard pond. With each letter my students giggle and infer and exclaim about whether or not a whale in a pond is possible or even plausible, and the entire reading experience is a whimsical delight.

EACH KINDNESS by Jacqeline Woodson
I have a #KindnessMatters initiative in my classroom- we work together to show kindness to each other and others in our corner of the world. I love this powerful story about how many opportunities we have to show kindness. I honestly read this story several times to myself, and then my own children to let the impact sink in and to be able to get through it without crying. This is a tremendous and moving story to open up dialogue about kindness, inclusion, choices regret and empathy. There are so many things I have swirling in my head to do with this book to extend the lessons, but I'm most excited to share it with my class and see what they think of it and where they want to go with it! "Each kindness makes the whole world a little bit better."

SIDEWALK FLOWERS by Jon Arno Lawson & Sydney Smith
Another wordless picture book to capture the imaginations of my world-explorers! I loved the black and white images and the artists use of color to add impact on certain elements of the story. I have paged through this one about a hundred times this summer and am excited to hear how my students will interpret it!

JOURNEY (& QUEST) by Aaron Becker

I have to credit Aaron Becker with reigniting my passion for wordless picture books. His books are so visually stunning, imaginative and intricate. I had students who would pour over the pages for hours, looking for hidden images that we missed on the first read, and inferring the reasons for different objects in each one. My class had the amazing opportunity to Skype with the author of these books last year and we were all thrilled to learn that Mr. Becker weaves stories within the story just like we did. He had back stories and side stories to accompany many of the details of his picture books, and once my students learned this, they were insatiable in finding and inventing even more!

SPOON (& all the rest) by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
In my classroom (and at home), we are BIG fans of the GLOBAL READ ALOUD! I loved last year's Peter Reynolds study so much that I am bringing it back! This year, the #GRA15 choice is Amy Krouse Rosenthal and I can not wait to share ALL of her books with my class! I love the way this author weaves meaning into her stories and how easily her books lead in to talks about metaphors, personification, and character traits to emulate! Excited to see how this year's GRA author will impact my students and our learning!


I was actually JUST gifted this book by a dear friend and it immediately jumps to the top of my list of books I'm excited to share this year! I literally laughed out loud on just about every page, and loved how each crayon has a unique and distinctive voice! I hope sharing this story sparks creativity and laughter in my students, but I'm also hoping that it opens up some age-appropriate conversations about prejudgment, stereo-types and boxing people in.

Final Note: After an awesome experience sharing "Poem in Pocket Day" with my students last year, I've been collecting more POETRY picture books for my library this year as well! Blog to come on how we will work with poetry more this year in 2nd grade!