If Rain Reign by Ann Martin is not on your TBR or ABR (already been read) pile, then it should be. Melanie Swider reviewed it before it was published here--it was one of those books that I've been meaning to read for a while. I miss Rose, the main character. I miss her rule-bound way of seeing the world and her obsession with homonyms. I have even found myself looking for words that sound the same and thinking about the lists I could make. Ann Martin weaves social issues, ethical dilemmas, and natural disasters to create a book that leaves readers debating the decisions that many of the characters make. There are complex issues with complex background stories that would lend themselves to an amazing read-aloud for an upper elementary class.
Quest by Aaron Becker is a wordless picture book that inspires lots of conversation and story telling. I love using wordless picture books to spark children's imagination and inspire them to study art. My twelve year-old and I had a wonderful time examining the pictures and formulating the story line. It would be fun to contrast the stories that younger children would concoct to the stories that older children would develop around the beautiful pictures.
Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci was front and center on one of our library shelves, so I picked it up. Right from the first page, I enjoyed several chuckles. Theodora is a rigid duck who meets Chad, a duck prototype of a hippie. Through humor, speech bubbles, subtle pictures, and understatement, readers watch the two ducks become friends but struggle with misinterpretations and miscommunications. This is a wonderful book to begin conversations about perceptions and realities, acceptance and forgiveness, and self-awareness and empathy. It's funny, but full of important messages about life.
Seeds of Freedom by Hester Bass covers some of the events in the Civil Rights movement. Even though it's a long picture book, it will inspire a lot of wondering and researchable questions. Because of the references to segregation, school integration, and peaceful protests, this book could also be a springboard to conversations about empathy, dignity, civic responsibility, and individual power.