Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ten For Ten!

When I first began thinking about this task I was blocked. I could think of all kinds of books. I struggled to narrow it down once I began listing them all. I began asking, what books made me shudder at the thought of never reading them again? What are the books that when I read them I feel a certain emotional connection? A connection that is transferred to the listener's ears because as I read it I'm unable to hold back my feelings about the text. Then one book came to mind. A book that every time I read it I feel all welled up inside. I wish I were the characters. I wish I could see the setting. I wish I was experiencing the moments in the book. I knew that I would use that book as my anchor. A book that makes me feel that much emotion, whether it be a gasp, tears, or laughter would make my list. My anchor book is Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. The beauty that turns in these pages is unlike any other book I know. It is the simplest of stories that moment by moment force you to pause, think and wonder. It is a book that celebrates silence, patience and connection. It is a must have, must share, must read. The rest of my list follows, but of course they are in no particular order because I love them all!

2.  Swimmy by Leo Leonni
I always read this book the first week of school. I love the message of teamwork and community in this story. The illustrations are beautiful and unique; kids always love it. When I finish this book I feel optimistic about the year ahead.

3. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
This book was new to me this past school year. The perseverance of the main character truly communicated that one person can make a difference. When I finish this book I feel enormous amounts of hope.

4. Willaby by Rachel Isadora
The character of Willaby is an old favorite. I love reading it to students, but I also just love to sit down and read it to myself. It is a reminder to me how students show their true selves in different ways and that I always need to be ready to recognize them. When I finish this book I feel more inspired to reach students who are different from their peers.

5. Mo Willems is probably one of my favorite children's book authors. I could easily just pick ten of his books for my list. Trixie, Elephant and Piggie, Leonardo, and Pigeon are all such relatable characters. I love how they make me feel, how I read their words and the response I get from my students is always a treat. But, the first Mo book I ever read was Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. This book has so many great text elements that can be emulated by my students. The drawings are kid friendly, as almost all Mo books are. The feeling is shown in the text and the feelings and movements of the characters are also made very clear. I always see students writing like Mo after I read one of his books. When I finish this book I feel aches in my cheeks from laughing.

6. Another book that was new to me this year was Pete the Cat, I Wear My White Shoes by James Dean and Eric Litwin. I first heard about it from my son who was singing the song after school one day. We looked it up and it was in the shopping cart quickly. What a catchy message and story. Who doesn't love Pete. When I finish this book I feel like "it's all good."

7. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
I can only imagine my list complete when there is an Eric Carle book included. For me he has always been a mainstay in the classroom and on my own personal book shelf. Every time I read this story to students for the first time and turn to that last page I get that "whoosh" feeling from my toes to the top of my head. It is so magical. When I finish this book I feel inspired to evolve. 

8. Swirl by Swirl by Joyce Sidman
Another book that was new to me and one day will be also be an old favorite. I will be using it over and over again, much like a spiral repeats itself. I discovered an interest in snails after reading this book and so did one of my students. However, there are many animals explored in this story. This book is poetry, non-fiction and picture book all rolled into one. When I finish this book I feel satisfied by all it has to offer through verse and information. 

9. When I Was Young In the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant
Rylant has a way of writing a story that connects to every age group. Her words are timeless and tender. Her characters are as real as they come. Her stories will forever be on the book shelves of many. When I finish this book I feel a longing to be in the mountains among simpler times, a simpler setting and simply my family.

10. Bread and Jam For Frances by Russell Hoban
This is an old favorite of mine and I always love reading it to children. They relate so well to Frances, a picky eater. This story has been on my shelf for as long as I can remember because as a child I heard my sister tell it over and over again as a storyteller in her high school forensics group. I can still here her nasally take on Albert's voice, the friend with a more refined palate.When I finish this story I feel a song in my heart much like Frances always does.

Below are book covers to give a "face to a name." If you click on any of the book covers it should take you to the amazon link in case you would like more information about the book.


Michelle said...

A great list Betsy! I, too, love "Owl Moon" and "Swimmy" -- both on my list. I have to check out "Willaby" - a book I haven't seen before.

Thanks for sharing!

Linda B said...

I know most of these-wonderful books, Betsy, & don't have the Swirl by Swirl, but have seen & read it in a bookstore. You can't beat Yolen & Rylant, I agree. I use Owl Moon for many kinds of lessons. I don't know Willaby so will look for it. It seems good just for the reasons you said. Thanks for telling so much about each one.

Tammy Flanders said...

This is a lovely list. Swirl by Swirl made my top 10, too. It's a gem!
Thanks for your recommendations.
Apples with Many Seeds

Maureen said...

Thank you for this list of treasures! Several were new to me - Willaby, Swirl by Swirl, and the Curious Garden. I am going to check these out! I, too, love Owl Moon. Thanks for sharing!