One of my favorite parts of our classroom is our use of picture books to create community, to settle into routines, to get to know each other, and so much more. This means I am always searching for great new picture books to share during those first few weeks and why not share those. Some of these are new, some are older, but here is a discussion of what I will be sharing and why.
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins will be our first day read aloud (I think) because it is funny and also because we can talk about some expectations we may have when it comes to our community. When we can laugh a bit together, it helps ease some of the anxiety that there inevitably is wrapped up in the first (and sometimes many) days of school.
Consent is something I really want to weave throughout the year because there are so many aspects to it that impacts our students. That’s why we will use Don’t Touch My Hair by Sharee Miller to lead us into a conversation about consent as modeled by Elizabeth Kleinrock.
Being an immigrant and a child who moved a lot means that there were a lot of new days at schools. As we start our identity work, The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael Lopez is used as a mirror text for me, something that speaks to a part of my identity because I have the name teachers have to think about how to pronounce, because I didn’t speak the language, because I never knew who would sit with me and what they would think of my food.
I was so excited about the new Pigeon book to come out and this one is perfect for discussing emotions regarding going to school. In The Pigeon Has to Go to School by Mo Willems we get to see how Pigeon feels about going to school which may mirror the feelings of some of our students as well. This is, thus, a great conversation starter about how school makes us feel as we start to think about identity.
Independent reading is a cornerstone of our classroom and so using How to Read A Book by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Melissa Sweet will fit perfectly in with the conversation about books and how they impact us both positively and perhaps even negatively. This will be the invitation into how we book shop.
The story of football player and reader, Malcolm Mitchell, is one that I share every year with students and so reading his picture book The Magician’s Hat is the logical next step. It is always interesting to see a few kids start to let their guard down about reading books because of him.
Inquiry is at the heart of our year together in my plans, so I want to use Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s great new picture book Why to discuss what it means to pursue answers and ask many questions. I like how the book also shows that sometimes there are no answers but there always more questions.
Another picture book to use as we launch inquiry is Does it Fart: A Kid’s Guide to the Gas Animals Pass by Nick Caruso & Dani Rabaiotti illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths. This new picture book is a great way to show how a single question can offer a lot of information and how we can navigate all of that. It is also funny, which is a nice juxtaposition to some of the heavier work we will be doing.
What do we need when we write? I may teach 7th graders but that doesn’t mean that they embrace writing or even know what to add in to their writing, so Also an Octopus by Maggie Tokuda-Hall and Benji Davis will be a great reminder to the writing process.
Because I haven’t met my students, this is a tentative list. A few of these I will for sure use, some I may or may not, and then are many others that I may use after I meet the kids. There are so many amazing ways to start a conversation, courtesy of the picture books that are created. I cannot wait to uncover which ones we need.
And then we launch into Memoir and Personal Essays where the books I am sharing are on a another list that can be found right here.
If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child. This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block. If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students. Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.