It is time once again to comb the bookshelves for your go-to picture books. Since this is my third year, I was clueless as to what books to highlight. I approached my shelves wondering what could be my focus for this year? In the past, I’ve shared the books that I just love and have to use, but this year something different happened as I began pulling books.
I discovered that each book sparked a writing idea for me. Hence my theme was born. It may be the topic or perhaps the structure that sparks an idea. I hope you will discover something that sparks an idea for you.
The books are listed in alphabetical order by author.
First up is A Is for
Apple Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan. The zebra is writing an alphabet book but musk ox has perfectly good reasons why each letter is for musk ox. Sample: “Gg is for goose musk ox. Because musk oxen eat grass. And live in Greenland.” This book has great vocabulary and more facts about musk oxen than you ever thought you might need to know.
What’s Your Favorite Animal? by Eric Carle and Friends would be perfect for developing opinion writing. Fourteen illustrators draw their favorite animal and explain why. Did you know that Jon Klassen’s favorite animal is a duck? He likes to watch them walk around.
The End by David LaRochelle really takes cause and effect to the extreme. Sample: “The knight fell in love with the princess because . . . she poured a big bowl of lemonade on top of his head. She poured a bowl of lemonade on top of his head because . . .” If you want to know the answer to that, you will need to find this book.
Together by George Ella Lyon is a beautiful poem about a special friendship. The rhyming couplets and repeating refrain are worthy of multiple readings. Sample: “Let’s put our heads together and dream the same dream.” Isn’t that what we want our students to do?
My No, No, No Day! by Rebecca Patterson is a situation that almost everyone can relate to. Bella’s day begins badly and it continues its downward spiral all day. Sample: “Yesterday I woke up and Bob was crawling round MY ROOM licking MY JEWELRY. . .” Now that’s the start of a terrible day!
No One Saw, Ordinary Things Through the Eyes of an Artist by Bob Raczka takes you on a journey into the art world. Sixteen pieces of art are shown. I love to show the picture and ask what do you think Bob Raczka said? The ending is a perfect beginning, “Artists express their own point of view. And nobody sees the world like you.”
What the Sun Sees by Nancy Tafuri is a double book because halfway through you flip it and you have the second part What the Moon Sees. A wonderful way to compare and contrast. Sample: “The sun sees bustling streets. The moon sees empty streets.”
Where I Live by Frances Wolfe has a hidden answer within the first letter of each two-line verse. The pictures are amazing! They are drawn from many different perspectives. The language of the text is beautiful. Sample: “Sunbeams sparkle like diamonds on water and gulls glide on morning breezes, where I live.”
Least Things, Poems About Small Natures by Jane Yolen makes you stop and notice nature. Yolen has used the format of haiku to bring each creature to life, then she gives additional facts in a sidebar. Her son was the photographer for each. Can you guess what the animal is from this haiku?
“I am green as grass,
Green as moss, miracles, morn,
Green as a moment.”
It is a lizard.
I, Doko the tale of a basket by Ed Young allows us to experience a lifetime and a lesson from the point of view of a basket. Students could take on the voice of an inanimate object as it observes their life.
I hope these titles and bits from the books sparked your interest.
Thanks to Cathy Mere (Refine and Reflect: Building a Learning Community) and Mandy Robeck (Enjoy and Embrace Learning) for creating this special day in August.