1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle- This is my all time favorite book to read when I am teaching Kindergarten or Grade 1 students. I have it in the big book format which works great for letting the students see, and stick their fingers through the holes. This book is a great jumping off point for learning about the days of the week, counting to five, different food groups, the life cycle of the butterfly, writing, art, illustrations…the list goes on and on. This book is truly a timeless classics and always hit with students.
2. The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch– I love, love, love Robert Munsch books but this one is my absolute favorite. It is a great story to read aloud to students especially if you enjoy using different voices and sound effects. The story reverses the classic dragon, princess story which is often a surprise for students. In addition the main character and hero of the story, Elizabeth is a brave, smart, and strong little girl who not only takes on a dragon and wins but also, makes a great decision in the end. This book, by a great Canadian author, is a sure-fire hit in Kindergarten to Grade 3.
3. You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff– This is a sweet and funny book that is always a favorite in my classroom. My students love to read it alone and with a partner. Because of its cyclical nature and sequential vocabulary this book is a great jumping off point for many writing activities. Young authors enjoy writing some very creative stories using this model. I also like the underlying theme about how just giving someone something is not always the best idea.
4. The Party by Barbara Reid– Barbara Reid is another great Canadian author and illustrator. The story is about two sisters who are scared and nervous about attending a family reunion/party but as the day wears on the girls get caught up in the fun and adventures with their relatives. I love this book for teaching students about making Text to Self Connections. I read aloud the book and stop from time to time to share my memories of family parties and reunions with the students. Many of the students can relate to the experiences in this book and often have stories to tell of their own. As well, the plasticine illustrations are a great jumping off point for plasticine art.
5. Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman– This is another great book about a really strong female character who knows what she wants and is unwavering in her pursuit of her dreams, even in the face of ridicule from her classmates. Grace is an amazing character. I love this story for teaching the students the importance of being true to you. I also love it for making Text to Self connections and Text to Text connections with Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tomie de Paola. In addition to this book, Grace also appears in several other Hoffman books.
6.The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry– A man is sent into the Amazon Rain Forest, with instructions to chop down the great kapok tree. This starts a reaction from the animals who live in the tree as one by one, they emerge to plead with the man to save their home. In the end the man chooses not to cut down this magnificent tree, full of life. The message of this wonderful book is: Save the rain forest and the wonderful, unique creatures who live in it! Lynne Cherry’s beautiful watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations, include a map of the tropical rain forests of the world. This book is a great starting point for classroom discussion around a number of science related topics including, plants, animals, habitats, diversity, and conservation. It also lends itself nicely to reader’s theatre, and drama. A truly magnificent book!
7. The Wise Woman and Her Secret by Eve Merriam– This is story about a woman and the villagers who demand to know the “secret” of her wisdom. They only want quick answers to their difficult questions answers which she refuses to give to them. Instead she prompts them to look around to see if they can find what they are looking for, a task that they quickly become very frustrated with. Only one of them, a small girl named Jenny, focuses on savoring the beauty around her by wondering and asking questions. She alone discovers the secret that true wisdom comes from savoring the world with an attitude of wonder and curiosity. This is a great book for teaching the power of observations, questions, and perseverance.
8. Great Estimations by Bruce Goldstone– This book is great for introducing students to estimation. It begins with eye-training exercises that aid students in recognizing groupings of 10s, 100s, and 1000s. Students are also encouraged to view the book from varying perspectives. Bruce Goldston beautiful photographs really help students learn to make reasonable estimates when looking at large quantities of objects. This book is a great addition to any mathematics classroom.
9. Red Parka Mary by Peter Eyvindson- This is a touching story is about a little boy who is afraid every time he walks past his neighbour’s house. As the story progresses the boy overcomes his fear, and discovers that his neighbour, Red Parka Mary, is actually a wise and wonderful new friend. A friend
who has much to teach him. I love this story because of its strong First Nations characters and the important message it teaches students: Don’t overlook or be afraid of people just because they look different from you. This story takes place at Christmas so it is a wonderful addition to my Christmas read aloud pile.
10. Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt– This is a hilarious book about a little squirrel who overcomes his fear and discovers the joy of leaping into the unknown. Students love this book and I love the message that sometimes you have to take a chance and jump into the unknown or try something new. This is a great read aloud in the classroom.
There you have it, my Top 10 list of picture books that I can not live without. I hope they give you just as much enjoyment as they have given me and my students. I look forward to reading everyone’s blog posts and seeing the recommendations. I am sure that they will lead me to new treasures and to expanding my classroom library. Happy Reading!!!