Tag Archives: top 10 for 10

Picture Books – 10 for 10 (2014)

I am excited to be participating in the Picture Book 10 for 10 event for the second time!  This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning

Choosing only 10 picture books is a huge challenge for me as there are SO many amazing new ones to chose from.  Last year I focused on new books that can be used for Reading Power – 2 books for each of the 5 Reading Power strategies:  Connect, Question, Visualize, Infer and Transform.  (You can check out my 10 for 10 2013 post here) The response was very positive, so I have decided to continue this trend.   Below are my favorite 10 picture books from 2014 that could be added to your reading power collections.

CONNECT

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It’s OKAY to Make Mistakes – Todd Parr   

I love Todd Parr books – they are bright, colorful and positive and perfect read-alouds for  younger students.  In this new book, he reassures children that mistakes are okay – from spilling milk to coloring outside the lines – children will make connections with every page!

What If…? –  Anthony Browne                                                                                                                                                                                             

Anthony Browne is an amazing author/illustrator and I was excited to see this brand new book on display in my favorite book store.  In this story, he focuses on the anxieties of a young boy who is on his way to a party. His mum is taking him but not staying with him – What if I don’t know anyone? What if nobody talks to me?  What if I don’t like the food?  While walking to the party, his imagination begins to take over and in classic Anthony Browne surrealist style – his illustrations lead us through some of his scary thoughts.  It all turns out in the end, reminding us that our imaginations can be scarier than our world.  I loved the firm, reassuring mother who helps the boy overcome his fears.  A perfect book for any child who has found themselves feeling anxious about a new experience.

QUESTION

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Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman

There is so much to love about this book – the adorable characters, the detailed illustrations, the epic adventure and the slightly surprising ending.  After breaking their mother’s favorite blue shell, rather than telling her, the three siblings set off to try to find a replacement shell!   This is a delightful book – from the first page to the very last and I know that younger students will be filled with questions about just what will become of these delightful bears and if they will ever find that perfect blue shell.

Norman, Speak!  by Caroline Adderson

This is a wonderful and thought provoking book that invites a lot of questions.  When a family adopts a dog from an animal shelter, they quickly discover he doesn’t understand even simple commands like “sit” or “come”.  The family (and the reader) conclude that their new dog (who they name Norman) is not very smart but he is friendly and lovable.  During a chance encounter at a park, the family discovers that Norman understands Chinese and that is why he has not been able to follow their commands.  The family starts taking Chinese lessons so that they can communicate with their beloved dog.  There is so much to love about this book – and many important messages about language and communicating.  The book is long but a perfect read-aloud for grades 3-5. 

VISUALIZE:

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Following Papa’s Song – Gianna Marino

I LOVE this book!  The stunning illustrations are amazing and I loved how the fictional story weaves in many scientific facts about whales and migration.   I considered including this as a book for Questioning but after several reads, I realized that the magic of the book lies with the images created by the journey these whales take through the depths of the ocean.  Lovely images to invite visualizing:  “…through the liquid light and deep into the mysterious black”    A wonderful book to launch a unit on whales and an anchor book for an art lesson for students to capture some of the images they visualized.

Hi, Koo! – A Year of Seasons – Jon Muth

Icicles.
reach down with dripping fingers
will they touch the ground?

What is not to love about this book?   Jon Muth is one of my favorite writer/illustrators.  I adore his soft watercolor pallet of colors and his gentle words.  This book is a charming collection of haiku poems to celebrate the seasons.  From careful observations of nature to insightful moments to nudge our thinking , I love every corner of this book.   Because haiku poems are short, I find they lend themselves well to capturing single visual images.  Try giving one haiku poem from this book to a group of students and inviting them each to create a visual picture.  The results will amaze you!

INFER

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Quest – AaronBecker

I use wordless picture books to help scaffold the strategy of inferring with my students.  Last summer, Aaron Becker’s breath-taking book Journey had just been released and was included on my top 10 picture books of last year.  (It went on to receive a Caldecott honor last year!)  My students spent HOURS pouring over the illustrations in that book and inferring endlessly!   So I just couldn’t resist including his new book Quest on my list this year. It’s hard to believe that Aaron Becker could match the magic he created in his first book, but I thought this one was even more magical!  It follows the same characters from Journey as they begin a quest to rescue a king and his kingdom from darkness. The illustrations are, once again, stunning.  Readers will be captivated and have endless opportunities to infer and practice creative problem solving.  This book is MAGIC!

Flashlight – Lizi Boyd

Another unique, magical book takes readers through a dark forest with a flashlight.  What magic hides in the darkness?  What hidden treasures can be discovered by the beam of a flashlight? I loved Lizi Boyd’s Inside Outside so was thrilled to discover her latest creative wordless masterpiece.  A boy takes a walk through the dark woods, shining his flashlight into the wonders of the woods.  The effective illustrations shows the beam of the flashlight and the hidden discoveries found in the forest – small creatures, flowers, moss.  I love this book makes the dark inviting and friendly and would be a perfect book to read before heading out on a nature walk.  A celebration of exploration and wonder! 

TRANSFORM

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.  These books have the ability to “change your thinking”

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What Do You Do With An Idea? – Kobi Yamada  

This lovely book explores the notion of paying attention to your ideas and just what can happen when you befriend and attend to your ideas.  I see so many possibilities of how this book can change our thinking and can remind us that ideas are possibilities waiting to happen.

The Most Magnificent Thing – Ashley Spires

There are so many things I love about this book, not to mention it is a Canadian author!   This book invites us to revist our thinking about so many things – perseverance, creativity, collaboration, communication, dealing with frustration and being able to adapt to change.  It is so well written and is a perfect book for inviting students to revisit their thinking of what it means to be creative.  A must have for your classroom!

Extraordinary Jane – Hannah E. Harrison

OK – I know I have gone over my limit but I could not resist adding this heartwarming book to my top 10 list.  I have seen many reviews about Extraordinary Jane but I am not a huge circus fan so I suppose I was not particularly drawn to it.   But now I can’t stop hugging it!  This book is such an important one to read to children.  Many children feel the pressure to be the best, fastest, smartest, prettiest.  This book reminds us that you can be extraordinary just by being ordinary.  It is not the skills or talents on the outside that makes us special – but the tenderness inside.  You will fall in love with Jane – I promise!

Well there you have it – my top 10 picture books (plus 1!) for 2014.  I hope you found some new titles that you can use in your classroom!  What are your top picks of the year so far?

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Filed under Connect, Infer, New Books, Picture Book, Question, Reading Power, Transform, Visualize

Summer Reading – Day 26! Top 10 for 10 Picture Books – New Reading Power titles!

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. 

CONNECT

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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!

QUESTION

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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.

VISUALIZE

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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!

INFER

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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!

TRANSFORM

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.

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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!

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Filed under Connect, Infer, Lesson Ideas, New Books, Picture Book, Question, Transform, Visualize