Saturday, August 10, 2013

10 for 10 Picture Books - 2013

Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek host the Fourth Annual Picture Book 10 for 10 Event (#pb10for10)! This is my first time participating and choosing only ten books was a challenge! 

Last year, Melanie Swider wrote about ten picture books that she loves to use in her fifth-grade classroom. If you are looking for books for upper elementary students, I love her list from last year, as well as her list from this year. This year, I am trying to decide on my ten picture books that are must-haves in a classroom. Since Melanie Swider has the older end, I have been trying to keep my selections aimed at the younger classrooms, although I am unable to resist a couple higher level books.

Starting with the writing workshop classics, I still think that When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant is a must-have. Katie Wood Ray read this book to me twenty years ago at a week-long seminar. I loved it then, and I still love it now.

The same seminar introduced me to Dear Mr. Blueberry by Simon James. Because this book develops a plot through letter writing, it's a great mentor text for teaching letters, but it's also a great mentor for teaching about character development and voice. To this day, I can still hear the presenter's voice reading those letters.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen is another classic book that most writing workshop teachers use and it would remain on my must-have list, as a strong mentor for teaching students that wonderful stories come out of seemingly simple events.

Going back even further in history is Bernard Waber's Ira Sleeps Over. This may be a sentimental choice since Waber died in May and I can remember my father reading me this book, but the voice of Ira's sister has stayed with me for more than thirty years. It's still a great book for teaching students about acceptance, as well as developing memorable characters with humor,understatement, and plot twists.

I love teaching students the message that small acts can make big differences and I am having a hard time deciding between a few, but I'm going with The Gardener by Sarah Stewart as my final choice. (Miss Rumphius and One Smile are close behind.)

Another important message for students has been talked about on Twitter so much and involves the concept of growth mindset. (Mindset by Carol Dweck is an incredibly important book...) I read Miss Little's Gift by Douglas Wood while I was browsing in our local bookstore. It's the only book on my list that I have only read once and don't own yet, but I liked it that much. It's an incredible autobiographical story about the author's struggle to learn to read-- a great testimony to what happens when we work hard.

Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild by Mem Fox was one of my daughters' favorites, and I re-visited it this year when I was working with second-graders on debate and opinion writing. We had such high level conversations about Harriet's mother's parenting skills that I am including this one on my must-have list. (I'd actually include almost anything by Mem Fox...can I sneak in a plug for Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge?)

My list would not be complete without a book by Patricia MacLachlan and some of her older books remain my favorites. What You Know First remains one of my all-time favorite picture books for the imagery and beautiful language.

Thinking about writing workshop and contemporary books, I love The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. It's a terrific mentor text for teaching opinion writing, as well as a great book to challenge readers to think of perspectives. Creativity at a VERY high level is happening in this book.

Finally, my word for the year 2013 is "present" so The Three Questions by Jon J. Muth is my tenth book. If you haven't ever read this, I highly recommend it for all ages, any time, any place.

I have definitely left out some books that I love and I am looking forward to next year, when I can participate for a second time and add some other titles that are on my list of favorite picture books. I am looking forward to reading about many other titles that people choose!

Happy reading (and buying!)



  1. I love your must-have list! I know almost all of them and agree fully! I am not familiar with The Gardner. Sounds like an important text to share with students because of its message.

    Great list, Melanie!

  2. Fabulous list - I am going to need to purchase Miss Little's Gift, what an amazing message. Thanks!

  3. Lots of new-to-me books on your list. I'm off now to find them and read them. Thank you!

    Here's my list: Top Ten Edgy Picture Books.

  4. Great list! Some of my favourites but also some new ones too! Thanks for sharing - time to find those books and start reading! :)

  5. Great list! I love The Gardener and I am planning on sharing The Three Questions with my fifth graders during the first week of school. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Melanie, You have put together a fantastic list that includes many of my favorites. What classroom isn't complete without When I Was Young in the Mountains or Owl Moon? I'm not familiar with Harriet, You'll Drive Me Wild, but I've already added it to my list! Thanks for sharing.

  7. The Three Questions, what a fabulous book....and a fabulous list, too!

  8. Great books & I would choose most too, Melanie. Wow-there are so many good ones. But I don't know Dear Mr. Blueberry or Miss Little's Gift. Thanks for the good review of those-I put them on the list!

  9. Love your list --can't wait to add What You Know First to our library!

  10. Melanie,
    Your list is timely. It shares ten amazing picture books of all time! I love the mix of old and new picture books. Seems very much like the shelves of our classroom library.

    So glad you decided to join us this year. You have much to share.


  11. Melanie-
    So many of my favorites are on this list, too! I don't know Miss Little's Gift, but it sounds like a book I will have to check out. Thanks for sharing!