I've mentioned a number of books in the past which are great read-alouds for substitutes to carry with them to elementary school assignments. Recently, as lesson plans and guidance have become more thorough and helpful, the chance to use these books has been less and less - which is a good thing, right? There's no question that when the day remains consistent for the class even if their teacher is absent, having a substitute is less disruptive, and behavior in general is more easily managed.
There are a couple of outcomes of this laudable trend (great work, teachers, who routinely seem to maintain an ongoing template of the day which can be updated with precise lessons and readily supplied to the sub!) First, while the day goes smoothly, occasionally there is a moment when I, as the sub, would love to bring something unique to the class - a book I love, bearing some additional enrichment in relation to their Social Studies, for example - which isn't possible with the daily script. The sub has become just a monitor, directing the flow of the day but adding nothing to the sum of experience. Second, once you expect that the plan will go well, and perhaps even leave your books behind - then comes that day when the absent teacher is so utterly essential to the behavior of the students that immediately, everything falls apart! At once you realize that the only hope for surviving the day is to completely reinvent it. Then you need your trusty book collection to redirect the energy - "The Big Orange Splot" by Daniel Pinkwater is a good place to start - as it beautifully redefines conformity, celebrates individuality, and engages the children to imagine a home and a world in which they have what they need to express themselves. Have I done this? Yes, once; and no, once - and the 'no' day, (when I didn't have my books, from a false sense of security), has to have been one of my most stressful.
So for substitutes and for parents who want books for their children that go beyond Disney Princesses and superheroes - here are some of the best!