Saturday, August 10, 2013

10 more of My Favorite Picture Books for the 2013 #pb10for10 Event

Thank you Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek for hosting this Fourth Annual Picture Book 10 for 10 Event (#pb10for10)! 

I love picture books so coming up with only 10 is always challenging since I have to make hard decisions to leave favorites off the list each year!  To read my post from the 2012 event, click here.  
Here are 10 more picture books that I read aloud each year in 5th grade to support units of study in both reading and writing workshop:

I love reading aloud Courage by Bernard Waber at the beginning of the school year with my students to discuss the meaning of courage and all the different ways we have courage each day as we take risks as learners.
Crow Call by Lois Lowry is a powerful book to read aloud to discuss character relationships, emotions, actions, and symbolism.  I read this picture book aloud during our social issues unit and it is one that we continue to go back into to look closely at all the text details and illustrations to deepen our thinking and understanding for the characters.

I read aloud Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Carole Boston Weatherford during our historical fiction unit, along with my other favorite Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles, which I wrote about last year - love that book! Freedom on the Menu is a perfect book to model how to identify and analyze which characters have power and voice and the why behind it.  This book is also filled with important objects to interpret and discuss in terms of significance to characters and symbolism.

I also read aloud Henry's Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine during our historical fiction unit. This is a powerful read that engages readers from the very beginning, especially when they know this is a true story.  It leads to great discussions about the dangerous risks slaves took during that time period to have freedom and to be with their loved ones.  The author's note at the end gives detailed information and facts that build onto this powerful story of the brave Henry Brown.

I read aloud I Want a Dog! by Helga Bansch during our character unit.  In this book, Lisa, the main character, desperately wants a dog but her parents repeatedly say no, no matter what she does or says to them.  Rather than giving up after awhile, she takes the creative route and decides to post signs in the park to take care of someone's dog and be a dog walker.  I love this book because it has an unpredictable solution, shows how the character is perseverant when reaching her goal, and is a great model of the "Somebody...Wants...But...So.. strategy."

It's a Book by Lane Smith is just a fun read! I am a bookaholic and love reading an actual book, rather than reading on a kindle or other e-reader.  This book is hysterical to read and kids get a kick out of it, especially when it's read aloud in two voices ( I usually have a student volunteer to be one of the monkey or donkey, while I am the other one).  The students definitely connect with this book since most are very familiar with reading on electronic devices and all the technology language referred to throughout the book.

I love all of Eve Bunting's books and wrote about quite a few last year, but didn't have room to include The Memory String.  This is a powerful and touching story about a young girl, Laura, who is trying to deal with the loss of her mother and a new stepmother, Jane.  Laura has a memory string of buttons from her mother that she cherishes with all her heart and when something happens to the buttons, she begins to see Jane through a different lens and may begin to let her guard down after all.  I read The Memory String aloud during our social issues unit and it leads to great discussions about character relationships, decisions, choices, and about the social issues the character faces.

In addition to loving all of Eve Bunting's books, I also love Jacqueline Woodson's books! Two picture books that I love of hers are Each Kindness and The Other Side. Not only are these two picture books beautifully written, but they are also both illustrated by E.B. White. 

Each Kindness is a touching story about a young girl Maya who is new to a school and is not being welcomed by Chloe and her friends.  Maya tries reaching out to them to play and become friendly, but continues to get rejected and teased based on her appearance.  The ending of this story is completely unpredictable and does not have the "happy ending" that is in most books.  This book teaches the reader that small acts of kindness matter and that we need to always think about our actions toward others because we will not always have the opportunity to apologize or have a "next time" to act differently.  I read this book aloud at the beginning of the year and refer back to it during our character unit and social issues unit.  

I read aloud The Other Side during our historical fiction unit because it is a powerful book about segregation and how children did not see the racial divide like the adults did during that time.  The racial divide in the community and the physical separation of the fence can not stop Clover and Anna from becoming friends.  This book leads to great discussions about the time period impacted the character's choices, actions, and relationships. The fence is also an important symbol throughout the book and its symbolic meaning changes from the beginning to the end.  

My 10th book is a repeat from last year because I love it! Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts is a picture book that I read aloud each year and go back into during minilessons for reading and writing workshop throughout the year.   I love how Maribeth Boelts creates strong characters that come alive for our students and that deal with similar issues our students face.  I use Those Shoes beginning in our character unit and refer back to it during mini-lessons in reading workshop during our social issues unit and as a mentor text in writing workshop throughout the year. 

Thank you again Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek for hosting this picture book event!  I look forward to learning about new titles from others and expect it to be an expensive day of buying more books! :)

Enjoy reading and shopping for new books! 


  1. I really want to use some of these for our character unit- thanks for the list!

  2. Teachers need books that do double-duty in RW and WW because time is so short. Your list is going to help lots of people, Melanie.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. This is a great list. I haven't read many of them so I have some great new ideas for the TBR list. Thanks for sharing!

  4. What a terrific list! I added a few books to my cart from it. ;) And my fifth graders adore It's A Book as well.

  5. Great list. Thank you for sharing these with us. Off to add to my request list at my library.

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

  6. Wonderful list! (Couldn't resist commenting on your list from last year too--so many great books!)

  7. I teach 5th and use the Units of Study as well. I need to check out The Memory String and I Want a Dog. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Love and know most of the books, but thank you for I Want A Dog, Freedom on The Menu and Courage-on my list, Melanie!

  9. Hi Cathy and Mandy, Well, you have inspired on a Sunday afternoon in far away Australia to consider my list of picture books that challenge the reader to think. A great initiative that deserves support. So, thank you for the nudge...

  10. Melanie,
    What an amazing list! Thanks for sharing.

  11. I love the last three books on your list - Those Shoes, Each Kindness, and The Other Side. I have to check out I Want a Dog. I've been trying to find more books that relate to effort and perseverance so this looks like another one to add to my list.