Exploring the shelves of the bookstores this holiday, I noticed many new children’s books, as well as the perennials and the latest editions of favorite characters and series. While many are well designed and beautifully illustrated, not all will stand the test of time. Compare the reading list provided in the full version of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which includes many older books that may not even be in print any longer. They apparently passed on the opportunity to gather in a new crop of wonderful works. But there is a great appeal in the tried and true!
A long overdue task I managed to complete this vacation was to sort through and group my collection of great children’s read-alouds. I've previously shared a few indispensable titles, but now I've uncovered a whole lot more that I already own!
"Pete the Cat - I love my white shoes!" by James Dean and Eric Litwin
There are several titles in this series, but as is so often the case, the first is the best! There’s a YouTube version of the authors singing Pete’s song and telling the story. Touches on repeat storylines with simple changes that children love, great for shared reading and has several text features (speech bubbles, asides) to discuss. Went over very big with a 1st grade class recently!
"City Green" by Dyanne diSalvo Ryan
This story proved perfect for a 1st grade class and then a 2nd grade in another school. Both are located in areas where community gardens exist, which may help, but the shared efforts and the joy of growing things can be appreciated by all children. Understanding the different emotions of the various characters make this book adaptable for a wider range of grades, as well as for social studies, as it includes details of how the block association petitioned for the vacant lot. Compare to “Wanda’s Roses”, another classic of the genre:
"The Three Pigs" by David Wiesner
When I take out this book with 2nd or 3rd graders, the comment is often – “We know that story already! That’s a baby book!” But this version is so unique and so sophisticated that they very quickly fall in love. Wiesner takes a post-modern approach to the conventions of book illustration and storytelling, allowing the pages of the book itself to become uncharted territory in which the pigs can cavort about and have their own adventures while the story itself vainly tries to keep on narrating itself. Children have simply never seen anything like it, and you can see their minds grappling with the conventions of The Book as they see what is going on. Another wonderful version of this story is:
“The Three little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig” by Eugene Trivizias:
Suffice it to say the Big Bad Pig stops at nothing, including the use of dynamite and pneumatic drilling. But he is won over in the end.
Enjoy! And substitutes, let me know how these books work in your own classes, when you get the chance to choose your own read-aloud! I never go out without a couple of the best in my substitute kit, according to the grade I'll be working with.