You asked for it! No one has really asked for a list of my favorites (lol) but, since I love blogging and I love picture books–I thought I would write about some of my favorite picture books to start the year with. I seem to always add to my favorites but rarely do I retire a favorite. Usually, they stick around for many years! (affiliate links are included for your convenience.)
At the beginning of the year, before we start diving into chapter books, I try to choose books that have strong characters. These characters may display strong feelings, strong behaviors, or even have a big lesson to learn. I have noticed over the years, students really relate well to strong characters. Either they can see themselves as this character or they can see a large number of differences between the strong character and themselves–both ways are perfectly okay! We discuss how it shows our uniqueness.
Speaking of unique, let’s start with the Higgins Dinosaur Books. We read, “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates” multiple times last year. My students couldn’t get enough of it! I posted on Instagram about this book and everyone recommended the next book, “We Will Rock Our Classmates!” I happened to see it at Target and grabbed it! I have to say, it did not disappoint! Both books have a theme of not quite feeling like you fit in and not having a great deal of confidence. That is great for the beginning of the year. Short of just reading the First Day Jitters every year (I love it, but I am tired of it), this a great replacement! The dinosaur is adorable, relatable, and funny!
Next, we have “The Good Egg,” “The Bad Seed,” and “The Cool Bean.” I cannot remember the first time I read “The Bad Seed” but I was hooked. I feel that SO MANY kids can relate to him. Even if they are not making bad choices all of the time–they can definitely relate to “The Bad Seed” and how he feels about life. As soon as I saw the next two books, I snatched them up! I still think “The Bad Seed is my favorite of the three books–but the other books are great and have wonderful character stories! Definitely worth adding to your collection!
Ah, Ada Twist and Rosie Revere. I know you have seen these books. You have probably even read them. They are gold! I love the representation of strong girls. Our girls need to see stories of girls doing amazing things! I also love the rhyming feature of these books. They are easy to read and when my students would read them during their own time–it really helped build fluency!
Along that same theme, I love “The Most Magnificent Thing.” It actually was very different than what I expected. However, I was pleasantly surprised. My kids are always captivated by this book. I think they are just really waiting for the big reveal at the end, but nonetheless…seeing the little girl’s creativity in this book is incredible!
“The Invisible Boy” will tug at your heartstrings. We referred to this book so many times during the year. It came up a lot during our class meetings. It is a GREAT book for teaching kindness, empathy, etc. We also did some great inference activities with this book. I did get choked up a few times. It isn’t “sad” but very relatable if you have ever felt alone.
This! “Word Collector” is great for vocabulary! It is a bit of a challenge, lol. (hint: read it ahead of time for practice.) The kids loved it though and used it as a reference tool many times when trying to come up with amazing words! I have all my read alouds in a basket for the kids to read during silent reading time (if they want.) This one was almost always chosen! It is not a “deep” book with a strong story necessarily…but it is great for vocabulary and showing children how to discover new words.
Patricia Polacco is one of my favorite authors of all time. I love this book, “Junkyard Wonders.” Warning: I have not made it through this book without crying. I mean I don’t sob, but it gets me every time! Some teachers have also said that their younger students weren’t ready for some of the content. A student does pass away in the text. It doesn’t share too much information, but I don’t recommend it for little ones. I have used it in 3rd-5th and it is great. I don’t think there is a better book our there for teaching a “the sky is the limit” theme. Such a great book.
Completely opposite is “Rock, Paper, Scissors.” lol. It isn’t deep, sad, or complex. It is so cute though! Books don’t always have to be “in your feels.” Books can just be fun and enjoyable! This one is A+ in the enjoyable department!
Lastly, is “After the Fall.” A co-worker (now my best friend) introduced me to this book last year. How had I never heard of it?? Oh my. It is awesome! Shameless plug too–she created an awesome resource to go with it! We used it and it was GREAT! The book focuses on what happens after you feel like things are falling apart. I think it is great for showing students how to cope and move on with life. It also shows how great things can come from even the worst circumstances.
There you have it! Those are some of my favorite picture books to use at the beginning of the year! As you can see in the first picture, I already have them pulled and ready to go! This year we will be doing a video recording each time we read to our students so our distance learners can either participate live or watch later. It will be interesting but hopefully it will help. I guess I will get to see my own crazy expressions and hear my silly voices. lol. The things we do for our students!