Today marks my last school day with students and as we gathered many asked me what my favorite book of the year was. As you can see, I cannot just pick one. So here it is; all the books I have loved since January 1st. While most of these are out, some of these are only available for pre-orders. These books moved me, changed me, delighted me, and impacted the reading journey I am. Thank you to all of the creators.
Last week, before the calendar switched to March, I changed our book displays in our classroom. Not because we stop celebrating Black history and excellence but because we wanted to add the component of females in history.
I was asked if I would share my list here, and while I don’t mind sharing it, I will say that it has holes. While I wanted to showcase an inclusive mix of picture books, I am still adding picture books that go beyond the well-known stories. I feel like there are many unknown women whose picture books are not on our shelves at the moment, so I am working on finding these for the future. I also want to continue to work on including more indigenous or First Nation stories, as well as stories of women who defy the narrow definition of their gender.
So what is gracing our shelves right now?
By no means is this an exhaustive list. We also have some of the picture books left out from last month that feature courageous women. If I had more space, I would have any more. Which are your favorite picture books for March?
As February approaches, I am scouring our classroom library to find the picture books that I will read aloud every day in honor of Black History month. I try to stay away from the most known stories, after all, if we are to truly celebrate Black excellence then it is important that my students can name more people than just Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks or Harriet Tubman. And yet, they also need to know these stories. And so for the 21 teaching days of February, I pulled 21 picture books, each featuring, perhaps, a story of someone that my students may not have heard of it. Each featuring something they should know more about. Something that may inspire them to ask more questions, to understand more about the world they live in.
I have pulled many more than this and every surface in here is filled with stories of those who have made our country what it is. I hope that our students will take a moment to reach out, read something, and learn something. It is only a small component of the ways Black History will be explored in our school.
In no special order, here are the picture books I plan on sharing with students. I have a few more purchases coming in, so these may change, but they are a start. Which picture books do you plan on sharing?
Other great resources that help me plan and think of what I can explore with students.
Finally, Black History month shouldn’t be the first time that students see collections of text that feature African American. I know it seems silly to say, but representation matters and it matters all of the time. As I pulled books for this read aloud collection, I had to skip great books because we had already shared those stories. This is how it should be every year in my classroom. So while I continue on my journey to do more and learn more, reading these stories aloud is one further step in my journey.
Another fantastic year of reading and yet I know there are so many books I have probably missed on this list. In the hundreds of books I got to experience this year, these are the ones that stood out. These are the ones that I hope others get to experience. While many were published in 2018, some were not and I am so glad I finally got to read them.
Picture Books Fiction
Picture Book Non-Fiction
Chapter Books – Middle Grade or Younger
Wonderland by Barbara O’Connor (Author)
The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden (Author)
Chapter Books – Young Adult
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (Author)
Which books did you love in 2018?
After winter break, we welcome our students back with one of our favorite units of the year; our Mock Caldecott unit. And while I have blogged about the process before, I see this as a great opportunity for students to not only immerse themselves in incredible works of art but also to think about how to read complex imagery while building community. But to do this incredible work, we need to have the books whose images will draw us on, hopefully, mesmerize us, move us, and make us invested when the awards are broadcast live on Monday, January 28th.
Here is my lesson plan for the unit
In no particular order, here are the books (I think) our students will judge this year.
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael Lopez
Possible Additions that I am Still Pondering:
Imagine by Juan Felipe Herrera illustrated by Lauren Castillo
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
With more than 400 entries, I pulled 5 random entries to win a copy. Congratulations to the following five winners
Courtney Sears, Kristy – literacy coach for Fort Mill Schools, Kayla Bains, Rebekah Underwood, and Ashley Brown
One of the picture books that has been traveling the most with me this summer is All Are Welcome written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman. Within its pages is a simple, yet powerful story, of a community where every child is welcomed no matter their heritage, religion, or life story. What an important message to read aloud to all of your students as you set the tone for the year ahead.
Well, did you know that there is a kit that comes along with the book? It can be requested right here to help you use the book. But in even better news; I get to give five copies away! The giveaway ends Sunday evening, is only for US addresses (sorry!), and I will pull five winners at random. All you have to do is enter on this form to be in the running for this book.