Tuesday, August 10, 2010

August 10 for 10: A Picture Book Event (Part 2)

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.

Thank You, Mr. FalkerThank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco (1998) Young Tricia wants desperately to read but when she starts school she finds that the words "wiggle" on the page. Teased by her classmates, she retreats into dreams and drawings. It's not until the family moves to California and Tricia has managed to reach the fifth grade that a new teacher finally recognizes her pain and distress. What's more, he does something about it.  Really what can I say about this book that hasn't already been said.  One of my first read alouds during the 4th grade year of my two year loop, this story of Patricia's struggle with learning to read opens up conversations about overcoming challenges, accepting differences, my role and commitment in helping students be successful. 

Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever Hardcover Book & Audio CD BundleCouple 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 BookThe 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 DisasterMiss 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. 

Duck! Rabbit!
Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (2009)  Two unseen characters debate the identity of the creature at the center of this clever book—is it a duck or a rabbit? Readers will join in the discussion, because the creature could, in fact, be either. Just as each of the debaters begins to see the other's perspective, the duck/rabbit runs away and they see an anteater. Or is it a brachiosaurus?   Amy Krouse Rosenthal is of one of my new favorite authors.  In fact,  I don't even preview anything by her anymore...I just buy it because I know I'm going to like it!  This is fabulous for teaching perspective and makes a perfect Reader's Theater script for fluency work.

The True Story of the Three Little PigsThe 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. 

WolfWolf! 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!

RoxaboxenRoxaboxen 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.

The Other Side The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson (2001)  Clover has always wondered why a fence separates the black side of town from the white side. But this summer when Annie, a white girl from the other side, begins to sit on the fence, Clover grows more curious about the reason why the fence is there and about the daring girl who sits on it, rain or shine. And one day, feeling very brave, Clover approaches Annie. After all, why should a fence stand in the way of friendship?  I use this book for teaching inferring.   It's also great for discussions about equality, accepting each other's difference, and friendship. 

A Circle of FriendsA Circle of Friends by Giora Carmi (2006)  When a young boy anonymously donates his snack to a homeless man, he begins a cycle of goodwill that reverberates and expands in a great circle of kindness.  I love using wordless picture books to help students really focus on the comprehension strategies they use while reading and this one is one of my favorites for thinking about inferring.  It also lends itself to discussions about showing kindness and the idea of paying it forward.

Thanks so much to Cathy Mere at Reflect & Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace Learning for hosting this fantastic event!  You can see all of the lists shared today at this really cool jog that Cathy put together. 


  1. Great list!! I also included The Other Side, and several of yours could have easily made my Top 10 list as well. Narrowing it down was very tough!

  2. WOLF is probably my all time favorite book. I thought about THE OTHER SIDE but included SISTER ANNE'S HANDS. And I love MISS ALANEIUS but I forgot about it when I was creating my list! Great list!

  3. Oh, ROXABOXEN!!! I had forgotten that one!! Great List!

  4. I love the list and your explanations! Hmm, perhaps a second job would pay for all the new books I want to add to my library.

  5. I absolutely love your list! There are some favourites of mine but some new ones I am going to have to get and read! Thanks so much for this list.

  6. I adore The Storm Book. As I look at your list, I think about the quality of text. Such beautiful and powerful language criss-cross these books.