#pb 10 for 10: Reaching for picture books from the past

Thank you to Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek for this yearly celebration of picture books that teach and delight. Join in to share and learn here.

It’s time share my 10 for 10  picture books, and this year I reached deep into my bookshelves for favorites from times past:

all in a day

Cynthia Rylant has the great gift of writing texts that enter into one’s heart and stay there.  A boy spends his day in the country, noticing all around him.  In these small encounters are big ideas of hope and seizing each moment of every day:

“You can make a wish,
and start again,
you can find your way back home.”

Nikki McClure’s extraordinary cut paper artwork gives the spare text additional power.  This is a wonderful picture book to inspire deep thinking and writing.

one today

The first three months of the school year will intersect with the presidential elections, and the events of this summer have already shown us that this election is an ugly one, with incitements of violence and hate. Richard Blanco’s poem, delivered at President Obama’s second inaugural, seems idealistic and almost naive, given today’s political climate.  But its message is one to share with our kids as a reminder of what our country is really all about, and what we should aspire to:

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight
of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always, always – home,
always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon
like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop
and every window, of one country – all of us –
facing the stars
hope – a new constellation
waiting for us to map it,
waiting for us to name it – together.
One Today is a beautiful and important picture book –  Blanco’s poem is illustrated by Dav Pilkey’s warm and vibrant artwork.
whispering cloth
Mai’s grandmother teaches her to make the traditional Hmong pa’ndau storycloth while they are living in a refugee camp in Thailand. She  weaves her life, fears,  and dreams into her pa’ndau, wishing for freedom and uncertain about what that freedom will look like.  The Whispering Cloth is a story about life for those fleeing war and crisis – one that our kids should hear about since this is an ongoing humanitarian issue.  The artwork by Anita Riggio and You Yang is unique, and contributes so much to this powerful story.
separate is never equal
The fight for equal access to great public education is, unfortunately, an ongoing one.   Separate is Never Equal is the true story of  Sylvia Mendez and how she and her parents helped end school segregation in California.  Our students tend to think about school integration as a battle fought and won in the sixties, and this book serves as an important reminder that it includes African-American kids in the 1950s and 60s, but also includes Native Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, and many more.
I loved Kobi Yamada’s What Do You Do With An Idea? but I think I love this book even better.  What do you do with a problem that follows you around and seems to want to stick around?  If you can’t run away from it, you might as well face it…and discover that the real problem, very often, is your own mindset.  This is a perfect book for opening up discussions about the possibilities and the confidence that can come from adopting the habits of a growth mindset.
migrant 1 migrant 2
I learned about Migrant: The Journey of a Mexican Worker by José Manuel Mateo through my friend Myra Garces-Bacsal who posted her customary thoughtful  review on her blog here.  I ordered it right away, as another example of the sort of literature that I think my sixth graders ought to be reading about and thinking about these days, when the word “immigrant” seems to have taken on such a dark and dangerous meaning.
What can I say about a book that begins in this magical way:
Screen Shot 2016-08-10 at 10.40.18 AM
other than to profusely thank the author, Elinor Lander Horwitz, and the illustrator, Barbara Cooney for this journey into beautiful language and the power of imagination?
terrible things
In The Terrible Things, Eve Bunting uses the allegory of forest animals to tell the story of what happens when ordinary creatures allow for terrible things to happen because they cannot summon up the courage to speak up and take action.  Written as a way to allow children some access point into understanding the Holocaust, this is really also a book for our times, and for all times.  Stephen Gammell’s evocative illustrations give readers as much to think about as the does the text.
grand mosque
The Grand Mosque of Paris is the true story of how the Muslim community of Paris helped to rescue Jews during the Nazi occupation of World War II.  It begins with this line found in the sacred texts of both religions:“Save one life, and it is as if you’ve saved all of humanity”, and is a moving story of the kindness that can be found in all humanity, regardless of color or creed.  This story was new to me, and my sixth graders were spellbound by it.
night in the country
Night In The Country is another Cynthia Rylant treasure – a story rich in sensory detail and beautiful language. Mary Szilaggi glorious illustrations make this a wonderful book to share with students in writing workshop.  

19 thoughts on “#pb 10 for 10: Reaching for picture books from the past

  1. I know them all except The Whispering Cloth, so will find that one, Tara. I find the Eve Bunting book, so powerful, have used it with my students. Migrant is amazing, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing some of the older ones like the Rylant books, too. I’d forgotten about that 2nd one. She has so many wonderful ones out.

  2. You’ve selected some great books. I love Migrant, too. If you’re keen check out another one called Tsunami by Joydeb Chitrakar. It’s the same format, accordion style,that emulates a folkart style from India and ties in with an oral storytelling tradition, as well. It’s an count of the 2004 tsunami. Very powerful. Thanks for your list. I’ll look for Under the Sky is…
    Apples with Many Seeds

  3. I wish I could order every book here. I don’t have any of them, but I chose One Today because I loved that poem and all it means.

  4. I always get “obsessed” with the new – mostly because I have time limits, can’t read everything. But there really are some wonderful “old” ones that we shouldn’t forget about! A few “old” ones here are new to me!

  5. All beautiful books, dear Tara. I am glad that you found Migrant. I also ordered Terrible Things – and looking forward to receiving it in a few weeks’ time. 🙂

  6. When the Sky is Like Love – wow the little excerpt you included has got me hooked! I am definitely going to find this one! The Whispering Cloth is another one I have book-marked. I love your theme of revisiting favorites… Cynthia Rylant is among my very favorite authors. Thanks for sharing these!

  7. Wonderful titles – requesting When the Sky is Like Love, Night Country, & What Do You Do with a Problem? I picked up Terrible Things from the library recently, but haven’t read it yet. I adore All in a Day and One Today.

  8. You’ve included so many important books, here, Tara. I didn’t know Richard Blanco’s poem had been published as a picture book. I agree, we need to share it with out students now more than ever. The Grand Mosque of Paris looks wonderful, too!

  9. You sure bring a lot to the table when you come. That One Today was powerful for me today. Thank you for sharing these important books. I’ve ordered them from the library so I can take my time with each one.

Thank you for reading my blog! Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s