Friday, August 10, 2018

August Picture Book 10 x 10

I'm coming in at the last minute to join the August Picture Book 10x10 event. This is the ninth year teachers, parents, librarians, and readers of all sorts have joined together to share their list of ten must-read picture books for the upcoming school year. (More information is on Enjoy and Embrace Learning.) I've never participated in this before, mostly because I start noticing posts around a day or two after the event, and am not in the loop enough to know (or be reminded) that it's coming up.

But this evening I saw some tweets about it, and serendipitously enough a few hours ago I set up a dozen or so picture books along the "chalk" rail on my classroom whiteboard. Now I wish I'd taken a photo, but I'm sure I can remember at least ten of the books I most want to share with my 7th and 8th grade reading students as the school year begins. Many of these I got this summer.

The Think-y Ones
Adrift At Sea: A Vietnamese Boy's Story of Survival by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch with Tuan Ho
This picture book memoir about fleeing Vietnam in a boat and finding safety when an American aircraft carrier picks them up, really shows how desperate a family would have to be to flee their homeland for the unknown. It also highlights how drastically our refugee policies have shifted. The end material includes some documents and photos from the Ho family's experience.

Mr. Lincoln's Way by Patricia Polacco
I am a big Polacco fan, though it kind of drives me nuts that I can never quite tell if her books are nonfiction, "based on a true story," or made up entirely. This book celebrates a principal (how many time do you see that?!?) who takes the time to find the good in an angry, racist student. If some of these books are attempts to get my students off on the right foot, this one is a good one for teachers to ponder as they begin the year.

Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers
Beautifully illustrated and poetic in tone, this book won me over instantly, and I hope it will help create a welcoming community in my classroom.

Passage to Freedom: The Sugihara Story by Ken Mochizuki
I've loved this one for years, and just tracked down a fresh copy this summer. Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat in Lithuania during WWII. He went against direct orders to supply as many Lithuanian Jews as possible with visas out of the country. 90% of the Baltic Jews were murdered during the Holocaust; Sugihara's courage is the main reason why the number isn't even higher. I met a woman who escaped with her family on a Sugihara visa when I was leading a tour in Lithuania in the late 1990s. Following the law and doing what's right aren't always the same thing, and I think now is a great time to share this story with students.

After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat
Anyone who's taking part in a picture book event knows this book. I think it will make a great beginning of the year conversation starter about overcoming challenges, facing fears, resiliency, etc.

The Funny Ones
Baa Baa Smart Sheep by Mark Sommerset
I got this solely because Pernille Ripp recommended it. I read it with my 12 year old, and she was initially horrified, but then begged to read it again, and cackled with laughter. "See? You're smarter already!" is our new catchphrase.

We Don't Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
This one made my husband want to write picture books. The silliness and innocence in the midst of social norms (like not eating your classmates) are absolutely charming.

School's First Day of School by Adam Rex
I tried to read this last year on the first day of school, but we were running a mini schedule and I kept running out of time. I think the slightly surreal, meta concept of this book is hysterical. It takes middle schoolers a little longer to get it, but they get there. Maybe when the school shoots drinking fountain water up the nose of the kid who'd declared, "I hate school."

A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins
I love the double twist in here. Kids totally think they now where it's going, then they figure out where it's "really" going, and then...

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone Roach
This is a great book to explain the concept of "unreliable narrator."

And there you have it. Ten book I hope to share in the first couple of weeks of school. I know nearly all of these books will appear on many, many lists today, but that's okay. Next year I'll try to remember to join in again, and choose a more specific topic that allows me to dig a little deeper into the back catalogue. For now, I'm off to read other readers' lists!


  1. I need to go to the library and find some of those funny picture books. I haven’t read any of them. Picture books about serious stuff are great, but the funny ones are the best.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. I have to read We Don't Eat Our Classmates! And I hope to find Baa Baa Smart Sheep too. Thanks for posting. I love finding humorous picture books.


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