I remember reading all of the blog posts last year for the 10 for 10 Picture Book event and I’m so excited to get to participate this year for the first time. Thanks so much to Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek for organizing the event! I must admit that I was having trouble narrowing it down to just 10 books, as I’m sure many people who participated were. In the end I decided to choose five books that were favorites in the library last year and to pair them with five of my own favorite summer reads. Here goes…
#1 Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
My students loved this book in the library last year and it was a Caldecott Honor Book! The text is simple, the illustrations are fabulous and the cut-outs of the pages were a favorite part of this book. Click here to see a digital version of the book. (My students loved the digital version as much as the real thing and we had great discussions about the choice of music and whether or not they felt it fit with the book!)
#2 Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
I paired Green with Bully because they are both written by Seeger and because I think students will enjoy Bully as much as they did Green. I also think it will be a great first read aloud in the library. While the text is still very simple, it includes clever word play and a message that will be a perfect one for the start of the year. Bully also has a digital version.
#3 Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole
The students in our library were amazed by the detail of Cole’s pencil drawings in this wordless picture book. This book really made them think about how well pictures can tell a story and they were able to better understand the time period of the Underground Railroad by reading this book. I was surprised by how much students in all grade levels liked the book, even younger students who lacked background knowledge about the Underground Railroad. I also like the important message that one child can make a difference in the world.
#4 The Price of Freedom: How One Town Stood Up to Slavery by Judith Bloom Fradin and Dennis Brindell Fradin (illustrated by Eric Velasquez)
This book tells the true story of a dramatic slave rescue in the town of Oberlin, Ohio. Though definitely better suited for older students, it would be a great companion to Unspoken. Both books would be useful for a study of the Underground Railroad or local history (if you live in Ohio like we do) and it would be interesting to contrast the actions of the characters and the consequences of those actions in both books.
#5 In the Sea by David Elliot (Illustrated by Holly Meade)
This book pairs poetry and woodcut illustrations and I’m not sure which the students liked better! Each two page spread in the book includes a short poem about a different sea creature. The students liked the poems because they were simple and they rhymed. I think these poems would be great mentor texts for students as they definitely communicate a great deal in very few words. The students also loved looking at the detail in the illustrations and we had great discussions about the illustrator’s technique and choices of color for each page.
#6 Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals by Michael Hearst
Unusual Creatures is a book I picked up at the Junior Library Guild sale in May. I must admit that it is probably one I would not normally pick up, but I’m very glad I did. Though it is not just about sea creatures, it does include many unusual sea animals, so I thought it paired well with In the Sea. I like that the book mostly follows the two page spread format and has descriptive illustrations along with short snippets of information and a variety of nonfiction text features about each animal. This would be a good book to use to incorporate nonfiction into the curriculum and would also be a strong mentor text for nonfiction writing. Check out the book trailer for the book!
#7 Nighttime Ninja by Barbara DaCosta (Illustrated by Ed Young)
Younger students in the library especially loved Nighttime Ninja. It is the story of a young boy who is supposed to be asleep, but instead carries out a secret ninja mission. In the end his mission is interrupted by his mother who catches him just when he gets his hands on his treasure. Though there is little text in the book, what is there is full of action and Young’s wonderful collage illustrations help convey that action. This is not your typical bedtime story!
#8 The Dark by Lemony Snicket (Illustrated by Jon Klassen)
The Dark is another take on what happens at night. Laszlo, the main character is afraid of the dark, but the dark is not afraid of him. The dark becomes a character in the story and helps Laszlo to overcome his fear. I think readers will like what both Lemony Snicket and Jon Klassen bring to this new bedtime story, especially the way in which Klassen’s illustrations tell the story. Click here to see the book trailer.
#9 This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
This is Not My Hat was by far a favorite of students of all ages before and after it won the Caldecott Medal in January. Students in our library were lucky enough to have Miss Val from our public library read it to them and after that they loved it as much as she did. I loved that students of all ages liked the book and wanted to check it out. We had so much fun trying to find the little fish hiding in the sea foliage and just as much fun hypothesizing what really happened to him in the end. We also loved the book trailer for the book!
#10 Crankee Doodle by Tom Angleberger (Illustrated by Cece Bell)
The first and most obvious connection to This is Not My Hat is that Crankee Doodle also revolves around a character with a hat. Aside from that connection I think students of all ages will also love this new book with a humorous take on the origin of the song Yankee Doodle. The pony is an integral character in this book and I think students will like him just as much as the fish in This is Not My Hat. Students will also like the comic style illustrations of the text and I think that these illustrations will be a good introduction to new graphic novels that the library has for younger readers this year.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the books that my students and I have enjoyed this year and I am looking forward to reading about all of books that are part of your top 10 for 10!