Picture Book 10 for 10 Day – 2013



Cathy Mere (Reflect andRefine) and Mandy Robek (Enjoy andEmbrace Learning) host  a  favorite PB(picture books) 10 for 10 sharing today. This is a wonderful way to share your list, and grow your list. Join us!

Here is my top ten list, in no particular order, save for the first:


Thank You, Mr. Falker is the very first book we read together in my sixth grade class, because it says so much about the learning community I want us to create in the year together.  This is an autobiographical account of Patricia, who has a love of story and of wisdom, and whose longing to read is impeded by dyslexia.  A move across the country, a bully who discovers her secret, the torment she endures until Mr. Falker enters the picture, and the way in which he helps her discover her gifts and overcome her challenges is all together makes for an uplifting story.  We spend time just gazing at paintings such as this, reflecting upon themes of bullying, compassion, and suffering: 



Our Civil War unit always includes a readaloud of this book:


Here is Leah Polacco‘s summary, which does justice to the meaning and power of this book:
Pink and Say highlights the brief but intimate friendship of two young boys, Pinkus Aylee (Pink) and Sheldon Curtis (Say), during the Civil War. When wounded attempting to escape his unit, Say is rescued by Pink, who carries him back to his Georgia home where he and his family were slaves. While the frightened soldier is nursed back to health under the care of Pink’s mother, Moe Moe Bay, he begins to understand why his new found friend is so adamant on returning to the war; to fight against “the sickness” that is slavery. However it isn’t until marauders take Moe Moe Bay’s life, that Say is driven to fight. Although ultimately, both boys are taken prisoners of the Confederate Army, fortunately Say survives and was unable to pass along the story of Pink and Say to his daughter Rosa, Patricia Polacco’s great grandmother. As it was told, Pink was hanged just shortly after being taken prisoner, therefore Patricia’s book “serves as a written memory” of him. At the end of the story Patricia bids the reader, “Before you put this book down, say his name (Pinkus Aylee) out loud and vow to remember him always.”
Every time I read this book and we begin discussing it, I am amazed at the complex historical themes that Polacco is able to weave into this treasure of a picture book.
Another picture book that I love, is Margaret Wild’s Fox:  



about two friends, Dog and Magpie, whose bond of love and trust is cruelly tested by Fox.  But, of course, there is much more to the story than that, and it is one of the highlights of our year to read and discuss this book – so many rich and layered discussions.  Ron Brooks’ stunning paintings add the the moving experience that is reading Fox

When I was Young in the Mountains, is an early read aloud in our class, when we are working to get our writer’s notebooks going:

Rylant’s lyrical remembrance of her childhood growing up in the Appalachian mountains with her grandparents is so evocative.  


Barbara Cooney’s Eleanor begins our exploration of biography as a genre:


This re-telling of Eleanor’s early years allows us to experience the events that shaped the Eleanor we remember: champion of civil rights, workers’ rights, women’s rights, and world peace.  And, paintings such us this are meant to be lingered over – so much to glean from this:



We read Michael Bedard’s Emily, illustrated by Barbara Cooney, when we study Dickinson’s poetry:


My kids love learning about the woman behind the quirky poems, and the atmosphere she cultivated around her art and her life.


The Hundred Dresses, can be read a hundred times.


This is a story of kindness, self realization, and compassion.  Wanda may be poor, and her school mates may ridicule her, but it is they who are found wanting – they who have a lot to learn.  We love this picture book. No wonder it has never been out of print since it won the Newbery Honor in 1945!

Kadir Nelson. What can one say about this prolific and astonishing writer/illustrator?  Heart and Soul is the story of America, and African Americans in America.  Each story builds on the one that follows, and we read them in the sequence Nelson presents them, drawing out themes and discussing the journey.


We also read Moses.  And this version of Tubman’s story sits on the chalkboard for weeks, as kids borrow it to take over to the reading rug and lose themselves in the paintings and the story.  Amazing.


Pam Munoz Ryan’s absolutely captivating account of the journey of young Neftali from dreamy young boy to the poet we know as Pablo Neruda, is one of our favorite books.  Having just listened to Pam Munoz Ryan at TC this past week, and learning of her own journey as a writer in creating this book along with the brilliant illustrator Peter Sis,  I am all the happier that this has wound up as one of the favorite picture books in room 202:

So, that’s my list for this year. We are so lucky in that we have such an abundance of picture books to glory in, and that each year seems to bring even more to choose from!
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5 thoughts on “Picture Book 10 for 10 Day – 2013

  1. Wow-Tara, I have & love every one of these except for Moses, so it must go on my list. I don't know which is my favorite, perhaps the Rylant When I Was Young…, but I also love each of the others too & have shared with students & now teachers-terrific list.

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