Hopefully you have been reading all of the AMAZING August 10 for 10 Picture Book lists that have been posted so far today. As I mentioned in Part 1, I decided to "bend" the rules, as my friend Cathy so nicely put it and create two lists. You can read more about my thinking around using picture books in the intermediate grades here but let me take this opportunity to reiterate again what an important role they play in teaching literacy at the intermediate level. So here are 10 of my favorite picture books for working with 4th and 5th graders, again in no particular order.
Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee (2008) When James and Eamon go to a week of Nature Camp and stay at Eamon's grandparents' house, it turns out that their free time spent staying inside, eating waffles, and playing video games is way more interesting than nature. But sometimes things work out best when they don't go exactly as planned. Besides the obvious text to self connections this delightful story offers, it is perfect for using to teach perspective and using the pictures and words to fully understand the story.
The Storm Book by Charlotte Zolotow(1989) It is a day in the country, and everything is hot and still. Then the hazy sky begins to shift. Something is astir, something soundless. From the last moments of an oppressively hot day, to the moment a rainbow breaks out over the countryside, this Caldecott Honor book lyrically explores the impact of a storm. I love using this book for teaching visualization or as I tell my students, creating a picture on your mental white board. The format of the book is set up perfectly for this. It opens with a page of text, rich in description, followed by a two page illustration of the previous page. I will read a page, then have partners turn and talk about their mind's picture.
Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster by Debra Fraiser (2000) When fifth-grader Sage mistakenly hears the word mis cellaneous as Miss Alaineus and comes up with her own erroneous definition, she is mortified to hear the teacher and the entire class laugh. She manages to turn their amusement to her benefit, though, when she appears in the school wide vocabulary contest as Miss Alaineus and wins a gold trophy for "The Most Original Use of a Word in the Tenth Annual Vocabulary Parade." This inventive picture book is a spelling book, a vocabulary book, a game book, and a costume book all rolled into one. Great for focusing on synonymous words, I love how Ms. Fraiser included sentences around the boards of each page.
The True Story of the Three Pigs by Jon Scieszka (1996) As Alexander T. Wolf explains it, the whole Big Bad Wolf thing was just a big misunderstanding. Al Wolf was minding his own business, making his granny a cake, when he realized he was out of a key ingredient. He innocently went from house to house to house (one made of straw, one of sticks, and one of bricks) asking to borrow a cup of sugar. This is probably one of my all time favorite read alouds! It's the first book I share as a part of a study of fractured fairy tales.
Wolf! by Becky Bloom (1999) A tired, hungry wold enters a little town populated by disgruntled people. He carries a hobo's kerchief on a stick, has ``only a little money that he kept for emergencies.'' He ventures out to a farm, planning to eat the animals, but finds them unfazed and engrossed in reading. In a fit of one-upmanship, he decides to learn to read too! This is another story I love to use at the beginning of the year to get students talking about their experiences with learning to read. This past year, several of my students also wrote a Reader's Theater script because they loved this one so much!
Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran (1997) Marian called it Roxaboxen. (She always knew the name of everything.) There across the road, it looked like any rocky hill -- nothing but sand and rocks, some old wooden boxes, cactus and grease wood and thorny ocotillo -- but it was a special place: a sparkling world of jeweled homes, streets edged with the whitest stones, and two ice cream shops. Imagination is such a powerfully creative thing that I often worry is getting lost in our technology driven society. That's one reason I love sharing this story with students. I use it as a mentor text for showing not telling and collecting seed ideas.