I am excited to be participating in my first Picture Book 10 for 10 event. This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning
The biggest challenge for me was trying to narrow down my favorites to just 10 and also to decide on a theme. But since most of my work is centered around Reading Power, I decided to choose my favorite 10 books from 2013 that could be added to your reading power collections. This was a huge challenge as there were so many amazing new books to choose from! And since this is the top 10 – that equals 2 top picks for each of the 5 Reading Power strategies: Connect, Question, Visualize, Infer and Transform.
Ben Rides On by Matt Davies is one of my favorite books from 2013. It is the story of a boy who loves his bike, experiences bullying and deals with the situation in a very positive way. Students will make connections to many different aspects of this book – from bike riding to dealing with bullies.
The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleishman is a beautiful book about an Italian immigrant grandfather who tells the story of his childhood to his granddaughter through mementos kept in matchboxes in an old cigar box. “Your life is a story and every experience you have, you are adding a chapter” This is what I tell students when I’m teaching them about connections. This book is a perfect extension of the concept of “your life is a story” and also about “memory pockets” as the grandfather’s objects represents the memories and “chapters” of his life story. I LOVED how this book could be used to invite students to tell their own stories through special objects they may have collected. Lots of text-to-text connections here to Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life!
Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford is a beautiful introduction to deep thinking questions. A young girl wonders “what is infinity?” “what does infinity look like?”. This promotes a wide range of different answers. A great introduction to the concept of infinity that could lead to other big questions. The illustrations are amazing!
Phileas’s Fortune by Agnes de Lestrade is the only book on my list not published in 2013 – but one I could not leave off as it is among my favorite books of all time. A tale of a land where words are made in a factory and in order to speak any word, you need to buy it. Of course, some people cannot afford to buy words. I have read this book to many different classes and many different age groups. It promotes more deep thinking questions than any book I’ve ever read. A must for your collection of books that promote questions.
Beach Feet by Kiyomi Konagaya is a visually descriptive story of a young boy’s day at the beach. What makes this story unique is how it is told through the experiences of the boy’s feet – the sensations of the sand, the foam, the pebbles and shells. The perspective of the “feet telling the story” is one that I would definitely use for a writing anchor for creating visual images through the senses. As well, the book is filled with wonderful triple scoop words and similes.
If I Built A House – by Chris Van Dusan is a follow up to his first book If I Built A Car, which my students loved. Jack is a dreamer with a big imagination. He invents his own wacky, wild and imaginative house – with everything from an indoor race track to a flying room. While this book is not one that uses rich descriptive language (it has a rhyming text), I love the idea of reading it aloud and having kids “visualize” Jack’s house through some sketches and then try to create then their own imaginary house. Another great anchor for writing!
Both Bluebird by Bob Staake and Journey by Aaron Becker are wordless picture books that invite students to use the pictures to infer the story. Bluebird is an emotional story of a young boy who’s day is brightened when a bird befriends him. The bird later risks his life to protect the boy from a group of bullies. It is moving and powerful and is a must for every teacher to share with their students.
Journey is a breath-taking stunningly beautiful wordless picture book. It tells the story of a young girl who is being ignored by her family. When she draws an imaginary door on her bedroom wall and opens it, a magical journey unfolds. Careful study of the pictures reveals many surprises and clues which invite many inferences. This is truly a remarkable book that has Caldecott written all over it!
Sometimes a book can change the way we think about something. When searching for books to use to teach this strategy, I look for books that deal with an issue that students have some experience. We “take stock” of our thinking about the issue or topic before and after reading, so that the students can visibly notice how their thinking has changed. Both these books have the ability to “change your thinking” – about the dark and about books.
The Dark by Lemony Snicket tells the story of how Lazslo faces his fear of the dark. The dark, in this book, is depicted as an actual character – and utterly transforms the reader’s mindset of fear. I can see using this book as perfect introduction to the concept of Transform: your thoughts about the dark before and after reading this gem of a book.
I have saved the best for last – the book that transformed my thinking about books! Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier celebrates the power of books, from the physical turning of the pages to the act of storytelling. It is visually stunning as the reader is invited to turn the pages and discover more and more little books. This is one that has to be experienced to be appreciated. Please open this little book and share it with everyone you know. It will transform your thinking!
I hope you enjoyed my top 10 picture books and have found a few new titles to add to your collection!