Sunday, July 26, 2015

Elementary Teachers Ought to Know These Books

One day I sat to read to my students and said, "Boys and girls, I am so excited to share this book with you. This is my favorite book!"

One of my students interrupted me:
"I thought the book you read yesterday was your favorite book."

As I considered this, I realized I call a lot of books my favorite. Now it's a bit of a running joke in my classroom. I have many favorite books for many different purposes and reasons, so I could not resist this fun link party with Primary Polka Dots. 

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The Great Fuzz Frenzy is my favorite picture book (but then, I do say that a lot.)

No matter what grade I taught, I know I would be able to use The Great Fuzz Frenzy for a solid lesson. 

The Great Fuzz Frenzy begins when a dog drops a tennis ball down a prairie dog hole. The prairie dogs are very excited about the fuzz. They fight over it, and then Big Bark steals all the fuzz. Soon Big Bark finds himself in some serious trouble, and Pip Squeak persuades them to move beyond their anger over the fuzz and work together to rescue Big Bark. The prairie dogs learn that a kind, caring community is more important than flashy belongings. 

Honestly, I think it would be hard to find a CCSS Literature or Language Standard I couldn't teach using this book! We always discuss the author's central message and practice some close listening and visualization. If you want to read a little more about it, I've written about this book before.

Last summer I wrote a post about my favorite authors. The list did not include Amy Krause Rosenthal because I wasn't very familiar with her at the time. This changed in the spring when I fell in love with Spoon. I wrote a blog post and a book study within a week of reading it! Her books are delightful, clever, and deep. A few weeks ago I discussed how I guide young readers through an interesting and meaningful conversation about Duck! Rabbit!

My other favorite book by Ms. Rosenthal is Chopsticks. I found it at our school's book fair in April. It really deserves its own post, but since I haven't written one yet, here's a little summary:

The chopsticks are inseparable friends, but tragedy strikes. One of the chopsticks breaks. Although it's never said with words (so you can teach inferring), the uninjured chopstick's incessant talking drives his recovering friend crazy! The injured chopstick convinces his friend to explore the world on his own for a while. At first, chopstick isn't sure what to do, but then he realizes he can have exciting adventures on his own. We learn that friendship is great, but we can survive and thrive as individuals as well. As if this story wasn't compelling enough, there's lots of entertaining word play and fantastic illustrations.

I think the best word to describe Lynn Munsinger's illustrations is heartwarming. I particularly love the teamwork of Ms. Munsinger with Helen Lester and Laura Numeroff. Munsignor manages to convey so much love through her artwork. Just look at those covers on What Mommies Do Best/What Daddies Do Best! Those two titles are actually the same (double sided) book. It's very cool because "mommies" and "daddies" are the only words that change in the stories. I can tell Munsinger took great care not to perpetuate any stereotypes in the books. She and Laura Numeroff also created What Brothers/Sisters Do Best, What Grandmas/Grandpas Do Best, etc.

My first year teaching I really panicked when I heard we were teaching poetry. After lots of learning on my part, poetry is my favorite writing unit! Little Dog Poems is, without question, my number one mentor text for teaching writing to first graders. This book seriously deserves it's own post, so I'm not even going to try to sum it up in a quick paragraph. I promise there will be some posts about teaching poetry, and I will go into detail about this book. I think I'm putting it off because I'm not sure how to do it justice.

It is hard to end this post without talking about Cynthia Rylant, Leo Lionni, or Doreen Cronin, so please, read Favorite Authors and My Students Just Loved Snot!

Please help me find some more great literature. Suggest an author, book, or illustrator (or one of each) in the comments. You can find lots of other great books by visiting the linky at Primary Polka Dots.

If you found this post to be interesting or fun, I'd love for you to connect with me!

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  1. I love your book choices Deb, The Great Fuzz Frenzy is fantastic - like everything else by Janet Stevens! You've piqued my interest, I haven't read Amy Krause Rosenthal - yet, but will stop by the library this week to check her out.

  2. Deb- I think The Great Fuzz Frenzy is such a cute book- I also love her book Tops and Bottoms! Have you read it? I will have to find Little Dog Poems- I am crazy about dogs, so that one sounds like it would be right up my alley! Thanks for sharing all of these great book choices.
    Curriculum and Crayons


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