Wednesday, August 10, 2016

My Top 10 Picture Books for Literacy Leaders to Read to Children and Staff

Picture Book 10 for 10 is a Google Community of educators who share their favorite picture books. It was started by Cathy Mere and Mandy Robek. Consider joining the fun. Directions for participating can be found at Cathy Mere's blog, Reflect and Refine. ( You can also follow along at #pb10for10.

Picture books can bring us the best messages to share with staff and children. Thanks to the many talented authors who bring us wise and beautiful words to share with others. There's nothing better than children gathered 
around a book that brings them giggles and laughter. There is no better mentor text than a picture book filled with beautiful and carefully chosen words. There's no better way to realize just how human we all are than sitting down with a book that touches our heart.

My Picture Book 10 for 10 is fueled by my love for the written word and my appreciation for the children's book authors and illustrators who bring us beauty on the pages of a picture book. So many picture books inspire us to sit along side someone, lovingly turn the pages, and talk about the fabric of life woven together in a blanket of words and pictures.

It is so important to share picture books at any age. Primary children thrive on them. Children in middle grades learn about how language and storytelling come together and even adults can learn from the themes that are woven thought a picture book. My 10 for 10 post was inspired by Matt Renwick who recently posted in the Nerdy Book Club about the Top 10 Books for Principals to Read Aloud at Staff Meetings. ( It was also inspired by Mr. Schu at the Scholastic Reading Summit in July who said "Every faculty meeting should start with a book talk."

I believe that it is so important for principals and literacy leaders to know picture books well. What a pleasure it is to leave the library each week with a stack of picture books in hand. The fun begins when I go into classrooms or a meeting and read. These are the books that are high on my list this week. The grandest pleasure is knowing that there are always shelves of new picture books waiting for me at the library. 

Top 10 Books for Literacy Leaders
to Read to Children and Staff

I Wonder: Celebrating Daddies Doing Work by Doyin Richards

Daddies are so cool and they are all different! 
This book is about all the wonderful things that dads do with their children. The author, Doyin Richards, is on a mission to celebrate "how fatherhood is the coolest and most rewarding gig a man will every have in his lifetime." I love the diversity of dads pictured in this book. It is surely a book that children and families will love.


Hannah and Sugar by Kate Berube

You can conquer your fears.
This story is about Hannah who is afraid of the dog that greets the children on the school bus each day. But Hannah is afraid of dogs. Then one day Sugar can not be found and Hannah helps search for the missing dog. Readers will discover if she is able to conquer her fear of dogs. This is a great story to share with anyone because we all have fears that can be conquered.  

Willow's Smile by Lana Button

Just be yourself.
Many of our children will be lining up for school pictures this fall. This is the story of Willow who has a difficult time smiling on pictue day. When she has a chance to help the photographer, Willow realizes that her friends all have unique looks of their own. And when it's time for Willow's picture to be taken, she knows that she just need to be herself. This is a great book to share in the fall when Picture Day is right around the corner.
The Little Tree That Would Not Share by Nicoletta Cost

Share and be kind. 

A tree planted in the city grew beautiful green leaves in the spring. But throughout the summer when the butterflies, birds and other animals tried to get near the tree, the tree tells them to go away. When fall arrives the tree notices that his leaves are turning colors and falling to the ground. He regrets being mean to his friends. A crow comes along and explains the seasons and the tree promises to be nicer to his friends as spring arrives. This is a light-hearted story about sharing and being kind to others.

What Do You Do With a Problem by Kobi Yamada

Have the courage to face your problems.
This book was written by the same author who wrote What Do You Do With An Idea. The boy in the story avoids a persistent problem that gets bigger as the story moves along. The boy finally gets enough courage to face the problem and it turns out that the problem is different than he thought. This story reaches out to anyone who has ever faced a problem. It inspires those who read it and would spark a great conversation with children and adults.

Raindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre
Water (and nature) can be beautiful.
This book reminds me of a soft and gentle summer rain. In beautiful photos and sparse words, the reader experiences the refreshing feeling that comes after a shower. This nonfiction book is an exploration of raindrops and the water cycle. It is a close discovery of how water is a natural part of our world. I love the photography and the carefully chosen words in this book and think that children and adult will too.                                                                       

I'll Catch You If You Fall by Mark Sperring
Someone is keeping us safe.
I love this reassuring story about knowing there is always someone near to keep us safe.
On a journey the boy's mother and a boat captain surround the boy with reassurance that they will keep him safe. As they return home, the star asks, "Who will keep me safe?" And the little boy tells the star that he will catch him if he falls. In this simple but elegant story we realize that all of us want to know that someone is keeping us safe. It's a lovely story that

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena

Look for the beauty in our world.
On a bus ride across town, CJ asks his grandma questions about their lives and their
neighborhood. Grandma always points out the beauty and goodness of things as she answers him. CJ and Grandma share a heart-felt perspective on the world.

... and some older titles I treasure...

The Quiltmakers Gift by Jeff Brumbeau

 Celebrate the joy of giving.
A generous quilt maker gives her beautiful quilts away. She agrees to make a quilt for a greedy king with hopes that it will make him happy. When she does the king changes his outlook on life and becomes a generous leader of his kingdom. I love the way this book reminds us that we all benefit when we learn to give to others.

All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan

Cherish the people and places around you.
Eli is born into a loving family. The story recounts the beautiful memories he has with his parents and grandparents. When his baby sister is born he in turn shares all the places to love with her. The language of the story tugs at your heart and reminds you to appreciate your own special people and places. The language is rich and the story is a gentle peek into the strong bonds of a loving family.


  1. What a wonderful list, Karen!
    I will never forget my first principal reading aloud to us before my first day of school in my first year of teaching. I thought it was strange, at the time. Later on, once I truly understood the value of reading aloud, I came to appreciate the times he'd read aloud to us. (That first book he read aloud to us was called I am Amazed. Do you know it?)

  2. What a beautiful list! I have Hannah and Sugar in my TBR pile now. I almost added WIllow's Whispers to my list this year -- but did not yet know about Willow's Smile! I must read it! Thank you for sharing!

  3. I love your list, Karen. I've always used a picture book read aloud to start pd sessions and grad classes. We forget how much power there is in the shared experience of putting language into the air through reading aloud, no matter what age we are working with. I have Hannah and Sugar and What To Do With a Problem on my TBR list already. I'm adding The Little Tree That Would Not Share and I'll Catch You if You Fall to my list also.

    Thanks for a great post!
    Happy Reading!

  4. Great list! Some of my favorites, too!
    Lynne Marie -

  5. I enjoyed every bit of your post, the why especially, Karen. Thanks for including All the Places to Love, one that everyone should know, and great to use in a workshop setting, too. Thanks!

  6. I love the idea that every faculty meeting should start with a book talk. I know and love some of these books, but others are new to me. Thanks for sharing.

  7. A reading principal sets such a great example. Thank you for sharing Raindrops Roll - I am always on the lookout for books that can spark wondering and curiosity.

  8. Thank you for this list! It is a lovely collection that I'm happy to share, and there are a few titles I'll need to check out, too. (I've also loved The Quiltmaker's Gift for a long while.)

  9. The Quiltmaker's Gift is one of my favourites and one I will be reading this fall.

  10. I absolutely love What Do You Do With a Problem? I've ordered it to share with my students. You have lots of other titles that I'm anxious to check out. Thanks for sharing.

  11. This is a great list and so helpful for administrators and literacy coaches -- we will share this widely. Thank you for this resource

    Clare and Tammy

  12. What a great list of books. I agree that the leaders of our schools need to be literacy leaders! Thanks for sharing.

  13. Lovely list! I'm so glad to see All the Places to Love on your list. It's one of my all-time favorite books. Requesting several titles new to me. Fabulous line from your post: "The grandest pleasure is knowing that there are always shelves of new picture books waiting for me at the library." Isn't it grand?

  14. The Quiltmaker's Gift and All the Places to Love are two of my very favorites and a treasured part of my picture book collection. What Do You Do With a Problem? is showing up on A LOT of lists, including mine!

  15. Love this collection - both the message that PBs are for all and the fact that you included such important lessons from each book.

  16. Thanks, Karen for giving me some new books to check out. I love how you chose such important messages to share through the books you love.