I love lists, and my favorite kinds are about books. Brightly and Facebook groups for the Reading Units of Study, Writing Units of Study, and, especially, #classroombookaday, often share book recommendations. Whenever I see “best funny books for elementary students” or “top picture books for older kids”, I place holds at my library to check them out. Even though many of these were published long ago, I got around to reading them this summer. Here are my recently read favorites:
Alma and How She Got Her Name is a beautiful story about identity, family, legacy, and tradition. Great mentor text for a name or identity unit, especially at the beginning of the year!
Drawn Together tells the story of a boy and his grandfather who have trouble communicating because they don’t speak the same language until they discover a passion they have in common. The diverse illustrations and heartwarming story will grab readers of all ages.
Bolivar is a large format picture book that follows Bolivar, the dinosaur who is able to live in New York City because people are preoccupied with their own existences. Students will love noticing all of the details in Seth Rubin’s amazing illustrations.
The next time you’re about to gift a graduate Oh, the Places You’ll Go, buy For Everyone instead. Jason Reynolds’s use of rhythm and repetition make it a joy to read aloud, and his message stays with you long after you’re done with this quick read. Students will love his realness. It’ll be an old friend that your students turn to again and again.
Michael Ian Black’s humorous A Pig Parade is a TERRIBLE Idea is a fun read that will engage students. Younger students will enjoy the ideas and will be inspired to create their own reasons, while older students could use this as a mentor text for opinion writing.
Refugee is a chapter book that follows three refugee story lines: Josef escaping Nazi Germany, Isabella fleeing Castro’s Cuba in the 90s, and Mahmoud deserting Aleppo in 2013. Alan Gratz masterfully crafts chapters that leave you hanging every single time. Students will love the adventure, and it will inspire rich conversations about emotions and connections with current events. Although there are mature themes like characters dealing with trauma and death of characters, it isn’t graphic. This book gutted me, and I can’t stop thinking about it.
The Journey is a picture book that makes a great text pair with Refugee. The graphic illustrations do a brilliant job of capturing the deeper meaning of the text.
School’s First Day of School is a great picture book for the beginning of the school year. Students may not even realize that the story is told from the school building’s perspective. Even schools get first-day-of-school jitters!
What are your recently read favorites?