Primary Polka Dots is hosting a linky party about favorite Children's books... and this is soooooooo me! Just a couple of weeks ago I posted this picture of my culled down collection of children's books, and I can't tell you how many times I've written about books that I love to use.
The challenge of course, is to come up with a favorite. Or a few favorites. Or at least a manageable number of favorites... and that is so hard! I'm going to cheat a little, and go with some of my favorite categories.
I adore pop-up books. I love pop-up books. I covet pop-up books. I am not yet in a 12 step program for addicts of pop-up books, but that is because I do not want to give up my obsession! There are several pop-up authors who stand out to me: Robert Sabuda, Jan Pienkowski, and David A. Carter. A few years ago my family visited Washington D.C., and I was beyond thrilled to visit a Smithsonian exhibit dedicated to the history of pop-up books. My very very favorite (at this exact moment at least) is
by David A. Carter. This is volume 3 in a 5 volume set that explores color and art, as well as what it means to be a pop up. Each book is named after a color: One Red Dot, Blue 2, 600 Black Spots, Yellow Square and White Noise, and those are the only 5 colors he uses in the entire collection. My favorite page is:
Books to get excited by:
You know the ones, the interactive, fun, exciting, read along, talk back to the character books. Nothing will get a group of 4 year olds more excited than a read along with The Pigeon or Pete the Cat, except maybe the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems.
Of course, there are also times when you need to calm your children, bring that energy level back down, and get calm. I'm including Mem Fox's Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, because I do so love Mem Fox! Her books often address big issues in ways that are perfect for little learners, things like embracing diversity (Whoever You Are), death (Sophie, Tough Boris), and getting old (Wilfred Gordon MacDonald Partridge). Mem Fox is considered an expert on teaching children to read, and she uses her knowledge of young children to create books that appeal deeply to both children and their adult reading companions.
My other book in this category is The Snail's Spell, by Joanne Ryder. In this book she invites children to pretend they are snails, and walks them through what it is like to be a snail. I have used this book countless times with groups of children who just couldn't calm down, and reading it slowly and calmly, and allowing time to act out each page has worked every time.
I couldn't have a favorite book list without amazing author/illustrators! Again, how to pick just one? There are many, more of course than I can fit in one blog post, but here are a few stand outs.
Keith Baker. You would likely know him from Who Is The Beast? but he has written many others, and his illustrations are always phenomenal. Every page includes a hidden something to search for, in Big Fat Hen the word "hen" is hidden within the feathers of every hen. My youngest son spent many many hours searching out the hidden treats in Keith Baker's work!
Jeanette Canyon (artist). Look at this cover illustration for Over In The Ocean by Marianne Berkes!
Every tiny detail was made with clay, sculpted, carved, rolled out... amazing! I could spend hours pouring over the illustrations, but coupled with the text, this is a lovely counting book, with enough thought put into it that you will discover nuances in your second and subsequent readings.
Lois Ehlert. You know her illustrations from Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, deceptively simple, and totally engaging. Fish Eyes (this is my third copy of this book!) is another fantastic math concept book, both a counting book, and an addition book for +1, and also there's a hidden black fish on every page.... brilliant in her simplicity, I love Lois Ehlert's beautiful books and illustrations.
Denise Fleming. Another distinctive artist whose work I have admired and collected for over 20 years.
I admire the way her illustrations seem to glow, and have found that if I point out her style to students, they can recognize her work in subsequent books. Fleming's text is simple but poetic, and appeals to youngsters and adults alike. I've written previously about using Where Once There Was a Wood to help students write poetry, and I've made a packet of activities to follow up Lunch, which you can see here.
I love to sing. Those of you who know me, or read my blog often enough, may recall that I once thought I would grow up to be a singer. Lucky me, I did! Well, not in the way that I imagined/hoped, but I do sing with my kiddos a lot, and book-songs are special to me.
Do you remember Puff? This book came with a CD, so we can read and listen and imagine along. Beautiful! When I taught my preschool kiddos, the CD made a lovely transition to nap time, usually after we had already read/sung the book.
I also love a fantastic sing along of the folk song, once again with illustrations that will touch your heart. Both of these books feel to me like important parts of our culture, things every child should be familiar with.
No singing story collection would be complete without this one: Ten Sly Piranhas. I bought this book and tape way back in the olden days (early 90's) when we used tapes in our listening centers. Every group of children I've taught since then has loved those sneaky fishes, and the large piranha manipulatives I made to go along with the book. This is a "counting story in reverse" - great for teaching subtraction, but the song is what absolutely makes it a class favorite! Hop over to YouTube to hear it!
Thank you so much to for starting this linky - now, forgive me, but I need to go check out all the other posts. I might just find more favorite books!