Monday, 9 February 2015

Day 9 #28daysofwriting - Favourite Picture Books

I love books, reading and using picture books in the classroom, I've managed a bookstore and was blown away by the incredulous idea in the news this morning that picture books could be damaging the literacy of NZ children (Picture Book article). Colleagues in the twittersphere were apparently appalled at this idea also, with a number of tweets flying around debating the validity, reliability and general credibility of the research.

In the interest of thumbing my nose at such research I decided that tonight I would celebrate some of my favourite read alouds and authors with you, not all of them have been road tested in the classroom by myself but have been by other teachers.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear
An incredibly simple story that the children in my first junior practicum thoroughly entertained. After reading this story once the class were able to join in with the repetitive story line and initiated a role play lesson as they began to do actions for each animal. My associate teacher and I thought this was hilarious and formulated a more formal drama lesson around the book. Eventually the book was turned into a live story with each animal appearing out of the trees in one area of the school. When I later used this with my buddy class the same reaction occurred. This book is an oldie but a goodie.

The Pigeon series by Mo Willems
I love these books and have purchased several over the years, they are delightfully simple texts served as brilliant provocations for many health conversations. Responsibility, sharing, hygiene are all general themes explored in these books but they're done with humour. There are two apps to back these titles up and one of my classes enjoyed creating their own Pigeon animations which proved to be excellent literacy lessons.

Summery Saturday Morning by Margaret Mahy
Mahy had many titles that are deserving of being in such a list but this one has special love from me, I've never used it in class myself but read it regularly with my daughter who loves the slugliwugs and gugliwugs. The alliteration in this particular book is great as is the use of poetic structure. I need to road test this one but given Mahy's stature in NZ children's literature, I'm sure many teachers already have.

The Wolves in the Walls and The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, by Neil Gaiman.
Both of these are sophisticated picture books and have amazing illustrations provided by Dave McKean, that demonstrate a real graphic novel quality without appearing too much like a picture book. The text is rather dry and provides a real test for students because of its non-linear nature. I've purchased my own copies of both titles which came with a CD of Neil reading the text also, this in itself creates a good teaching point as the differences in tone, speed and clarity can be discussed.

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore
This title illustrates what could be done by publishers who want to invest in a picture book. The book comes fully embedded Augmented Reality and has captivated anyone that I've ever shown the book too.  I blogged about it here Fantastic Flying Books  as I was blown away by my classes reaction the first time. Make sure you check out this post as this book is definitely worth sharing with your class!

Alice in New York
This is an interactive App book which is an adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. The text follows similar lines to the original Alice, the visuals have a grainy affect but their interaction is awesome. Well worth pursuing as either a read aloud or for individuals to read as it has some brilliant songs & poems within the text. Its also a great way for children to access a classic.

Looks like time is well & truly up...

It doesn't quite fit but if you've made it this far make sure you take a look at The Day the Crayons Quit and anything else by Oliver Jeffers also! Blog post here. Also check out Battle Bunny and I'm also a fan of works by Jeannie Baker and Shaun Tan.


  1. Shaun Tan's The Arrival - A picture book without a single work contains some of the most powerful messages I have seen. How can that not help a child's understanding of how people communicate.
    It's kind of like saying that cave paintings ruined our development of language.

    1. I'm a huge fan of The Rabbits, when we read it as a class it provoked a huge amount of discussion. Thumbing your nose at such research seems like it is the only appropriate thing to do.

  2. Have you ever tried Old Pig by Margaret Wild? I've used with with kids from 4yo up to year 7. It's FANTASTIC... And has the added advantage (for the kids) of making me cry every single time I read it.

  3. Thanks for sharing. It's a book - by Lane Smith is a fun one too.