Wednesday, August 10, 2011

10 Read Alouds I Can't Live Without

This is a crazy picture heavy post. I just couldn't help myself.

I have been thinking for awhile now about my 10 "Must Have" picture books for August 10 for 10 (on twitter: #pb10for10

I wear two hats in my read aloud life, one as a school library media specialist, and the other as a parent.
There is so much cross over with what I read at school and home, but this list seemed to have a clear line for me with 6 school favorites and 4 home favorites. 

My School Favorites:
by Jacqueline Briggs Martin 
Illustrated by Mary Azarian

What it's about: 
Wilson Bentley had a passion for snowflakes, and spent his life trying to capture and preserve them for future generations.

What I love: 
I love stories about having passions and hobbies that are life changing, as well as stories about leaving a legacy. Snowflake Bentley does both. I hold back tears each time I read the end of the book about his death and his snow crystal photos living on as his "gift to the world." 

Wilson Bentley intentionally gave a gift to the world with his photographs by placing the images in the public domain (you may print your own copies of many snowflake images here:
I love to use this book to discuss biography, copyright, public domain, and leaving a legacy.

I also have a collection of Bentley's photographs, Snow Crystals (Dover photography collections), in my library, which is hardly ever on the shelf.

It includes over 2400 of Wilson Bentley's images.

And it includes a few dew covered spider webs (also talked about in the book).

The Happiest Tree
by Uma Krishnaswami
What it's about: 
Meena feels clumsy most of the time, through yoga she learns how to feel more in control of her body.

What I love:
Meena makes a discovery near the end that she "can change her body by how [she] feel[s] inside...if [she] is quiet on the inside, [her] body will be still." Anyone who has ever worked with young children knows that is a powerful message. I love doing some relaxing breathing and intro to yoga with kids when reading this book.

I also love that Meena's teacher is a teacher of color. Something that is not as common as it should be in picture books.

by Barbara Lehman

I blogged about why I love The Red Book and Lehman's other fabulous wordless stories here:

Tops and Bottoms
by Janet Stevens
What it's about: 
Hare tricks a lazy bear into giving him all the good parts of his crops.

What I love: 
Hare is so clever, and Bear keeps getting conned. When I read it for the first time with a group, I love having them try to figure out "how is Hare going to get the good part of the crop this time?"
"It's a done deal, Bear!"

Sam and the Tigers
by Julius Lester
Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

What it's about:
Sam loses all of his brand new clothes to a bunch of tigers on the way to school, but when the tigers start fighting with each other, he gets them back again.
What I love:
I love that everyone in Sam's town is named "Sam". I love that Sam convinces a tiger that his shoes are "ear shoes" so that the tiger won't eat him.  I love the fabulous examples of hyperbole, metaphor and simile.
And I love all of the faces hidden in the trees all through the story.

One Dog Canoe
by Mary Casanova
illustrated by Ard Hoyt

I blogged about why I love this favorite before as well:

Home Favorites:
by Bruce Degen
Our very worn out copy of Jamberry.
What it's about:
A boy and a bear go on a berry adventure in berryland.

What I love:
This book was a gift to us when my 5.5 year old was born.
It totally won me over with it's rhythm and language: "Raspberry, Jazzberry, Razzmatazzberry, Berryband, Merryband, Jamming in Berryland."

Snuggle Puppy
by Sandra Boynton
What it's about:
Snuggle Puppy is a sweet love song to a child.

What I love: 
I love books that connect to singing. Listen to Snuggle Puppy sung by Eric Stolz here: We love to make the "whisper verse" barely audible and try to hold the "oooooohs" until we are absolutely out of breath. Life is about the little things, right?
One of my Snuggle Puppies

The Little Mouse,
The Red Ripe Strawberry
and the Big Hungry Bear
by Don and Audrey Wood 

What it's about:
A little mouse is trying to save a strawberry from being found by a bear, eventually deciding to share it with the you, the reader.

What I love:
Just look at that little mouse!

Babybug Magazine
by Carus Publishing
What it's about: 
Babybug is a magazine made for board book readers with NO advertising.

What I love:
I know that this is not officially a picture book, but I am breaking the rules for good reason: Babybug rocks! It's made for small hands, and each page of the magazine is heavy card stock. Each issue starts with story about Kim and her stuffed bunny named Carrots. The rest of each issue includes a variety of stories, poems, nursery rhymes and finger plays. The illustrations are wonderful and varied in within each issue.

I keep a copy in my "diaper bag" at all times.
Also a plus... my kids always enjoy getting something in the mail.

(Carus Publishing also has other fabulous magazines: Ladybug, Spider, Cricket, Click, Ask, Oddyssey, Muse, Appleseeds, Faces, Cobblestone - I'm a big fan)

There they are... my 10 picture books for August 10 that I can't live without.

Thanks to...
@mandyrobek  of
@cathymere of
for organizing this second annual picture book event!

I am excited to read about others' favorites.

Participants' posts are all linked here:


  1. Great list Laura! Can't wait to try a few at school:)

  2. Thanks for the recommendations. I like the list.
    Apples with Many Seeds

  3. Thanks for joining us today. You have some great titles here. Snowflake Bentley should of been on my list, too.

  4. I need to check out Sam and the Tigers. My 6 year old nephew is convinced that he is going to be a tiger trainer someday. He'd probably love this story. Sounds funny.