Friday, August 10, 2012

10 of My Favorite Picture Book Read Alouds for the 2012 Picture Book 10 for 10 Event

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

I love picture books so coming up with only 10 of my favorites was challenging since I had to make hard decisions to leave some favorites off the list.  Here are 10 picture books that I read each year in 5th grade to support units of study in both reading and writing workshop:

I LOVE Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts.  I also love her new book Happy Like Soccer that was recently published in May (like how I snuck in another title? :) )  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 and as a mentor text in writing workshop throughout the year.

Dancing in the Wings by Debbie Allen is another picture book that I read aloud in our character unit and then refer to it in our social issues unit and use it as a mentor text in writing workshop.  I love how "real" the main character, Sassy, is and how she is also dealing with issues that our students face in their lives.  It's a great book to show the importance of perseverance in life and working hard to reach your goals.

I have always loved reading aloud Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting and have read it aloud each year since I began teaching over 12 years ago.  It is a powerful book that deals with many social and family issues.  I love the symbolism in this book and the lessons it teaches the reader about family, challenging times in life, and the importance of always having hope and striving to make your dreams come true.

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles is my favorite picture book to read aloud during our Historical Fiction Unit.  I love the strong friendship in this story regardless of race, the symbolism throughout the book, and how it brings the civil rights movement to life for the readers.  I read this book aloud at the beginning of our Historical Fiction Unit, but refer to it in mini lessons during reading and writing workshop throughout the school year.

The Leaving Morning by Angela Johnson is an "old" favorite of mine.  I love how Angela Johnson stretches out one small moment of saying good-bye when it is time to move.  Since I had my share of moving while growing up, this book resonated with me the first time I read it many years ago.  I love to use this book as a mentor text in writing workshop to study Angela Johnson's craft of stretching out small ordinary moments in our lives.

 Not Norman by Kellly Bennett is a fun story about a boy who really wants a pet, but ends up getting a fish instead.  Throughout the story he makes it his mission to get rid of the goldfish and get a "real" pet instead.  After many unsuccessful attempts, he begins to change his mindset and opinion about Norman, the goldfish.  I read aloud this book during our Character Unit and it is a perfect book to model and discuss character change, cause/effect, and connections across texts.

 The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor is another "old" favorite of mine and I have read it aloud each year for many years.  This book teaches the important life lesson that people can be rich in many ways besides with money.  I love how sassy the character, Mountain Girl, is in this book while she accuses her parents of not being hard workers or having ambition because she thinks they are poor. The students love her sassiness and are always shocked that she speaks to her parents the way she does about their finances as a family.  This is an important book to read aloud to discuss our perspectives in life and that money or materials do not bring happiness, but the love of family and friends can.

I love all of Eve Bunting's books and I would list all of them if I could!  I read aloud Pop's Bridge during our Launching Unit or Character Unit in reading workshop and refer back to it during our Social Issues Unit.  I love how the main character, Robert, changes his mindset throughout the story from thinking his father was the most important worker building the Golden Gate Bridge to realizing that it takes a team to build it and that all jobs are equally important.  I also love the symbolism of the puzzle piece in this story and the author's note at the end that gives more information about the building of the Golden Gate Bridge and the heartbreaking accident that took the lives of some workers.

Gleam and Glow is another book by Eve Bunting that I love.  This inspiring story is based on true events about a Bosnian family that was forced to flee their country during a recent civil war.  Information about the war and true events is given in the afterword at the end of the book.  In this story, the father has to leave the family to fight in the war which leaves the mother and children alone to flee their home in search of safety at a refugee camp.  They leave the fish, Gleam and Glow, behind as they begin their long walk to the refugee camp.  Without spoiling the end of this story for anyone who hasn't read it, Gleam and Glow symbolize hope, strength, and resilience.

Ish by Peter Reynolds is one of my favorite books of his, along with The Dot (had to sneak this title in too!).  Both of these books are great to read aloud at the beginning of the year to help build a positive classroom community.  I read aloud both books during the first week of school and we discuss the messages in both of these books and how they can help us have a successful year as a community of learners.

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! :)

Happy Reading! :)


  1. Oh I love Gleam and Glow! Such a powerful book that inspires hope. Fly Away Home is also a favourite of mine. Don't know The Table Where Rich people sit. Going to look for it. Great list.

  2. Thanks for adding "Not Norman" and "The Leaving Morning" to my list of books to check out!

  3. Wow Melanie! So many great titles and a few new ones from authors I adore as well. Love how your books support your reading and writing workshop. Keep on reading!

  4. Thanks for sharing your titles, Melanie, and also for explaining the connections you make to reading and writing. It's interesting to see how we often get hooked on an author. I guess that's what we want for our kids as well. What a great model you are for your students!

  5. You've included several authors who I recommend frequently to student teachers - Eve Bunting, Peter Reynolds, Angela Johnson. Thanks for all your recommendations.
    Apples with Many Seeds

  6. Gleam and Glow sounds like a great book, glad you shared it! Now I can go check it out :)

  7. Somehow I missed this post. I don't know hardly any of these. Thank you so much for opening my eyes. I can't wait to get to the library!

    First in Maine

  8. Thanks for the book recommendations. Your list is full of books I haven't really read yet. Looking forward to checking some of them out. I have read Ish to my class. It is suh a sweet story.


  9. Love your list! Just wrote down another 5 or 6 MUST BUY RIGHT NOW titles, LOL.

  10. I've always loved Those Shoes. Not Norman is one I haven't read, I'll have to check it out.

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