The Return of Shel Silverstein
Poetry Friday, Directions to

Teachers' Top Five Books for Children

From my son's copy of Time for Kids, I learned about this list of teachers' favorite books for children. It comes from a 2007 survey by the National Education Association (NEA).

  • Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White
  • Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
  • The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein
  • Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss
  • Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown

I don't see any surprises here, and I'd even hazard a guess that many of the teachers who filled out the survey came from the baby boom generation. I also wonder if the 10,000 educators had to vote on a pre-selected list. Anyway, what could we add to update this group a little bit? Here are my suggestions: Chrysanthemum, written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, and Sam and the Tigers, written by Julius Lester and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Come to think of it, The Llama Who Had No Pajama, a poetry collection by Mary Ann Hoberman, would fit in here, too.

What are your ideas?

Edited to add: The entire results of the 2007 survey can be found at the NEA's web site, and the full list of 100 does include many more recent books. Chrysanthemum comes in at #59. Thank you to Monica Edinger, a teacher who blogs at Educating Alice, for the link to the whole survey.

I'd still like to hear readers' ideas of latter-day classics to complement the top five, above.


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Apparently those are the top five from a list of 100 books compiled by the NEA from a survey that ran on their website from November 99 to February 2000. You can see the complete list here:

My mistake. That was a list from a kids' survey. Here's the teacher one:

Thanks for the link, Monica! I checked out the list and it's very good - what I find hard to swallow is that The Giving Tree got on the Top 5 list over some of those others. Let's just add I Love You Forever to make it complete! Is it just me or is Go, Dog, Go! not on that list of 100? I'd definitely add that one. And for goodness sake, I'd get Edward Tulane off there.

Monica, thank you. I edited the post and noted the whole survey, which does indeed include many more recent books. The story is not complete without that list of 100.

Oh, yeah, Laura, Go, Dog, Go! is so fun.

I need to look at the whole list but....The Giving Tree???? Please, could we retire this terrible, terrible story?!?

I'm not super crazy about Love You Forever, but it's a personal thing - the illustrations sort of weird me out.

I have fond childhood memories of "The Lorax" and my kids' current favorite is "Where the Wild Things Are".

Aerin, neither The Giving Tree nor Love You Forever would be on my list. I'd replace Love You Forever with The Paper Bag Princess, also by Munsch but not weird. My 8 year old is a Lorax fan, too.

Because of Winn Dixie, Kate Dicamillo
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Mo Willems

I would vote for Peter Rabbit, The Ugly Duckling and Winnie the Pooh.

What a mish-mash of a list! How come Jan Brett gets a slot for ALL of her books? And I totally disagree with the subtitle: "Parents and teachers will find it useful in selecting quality literature for children." That should read, "Parents and teachers will find it useful in selecting books that other people like."

Where's Scaredy Squirrel and Chester? BabyMouse? Katherine Paterson? Patricia MacLachlan? POETRY? NONFICTION??? Sigh.

ooh, thanks, Ms. T., Cloudscome, and Mary Lee. And I don't know what's up with all Jan Brett's books sliding in there.

Well, I'm only using little kid titles here, because that seems to be the trend, but my kids loved Go Dog Go!, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, all the Robert Munsch stories, Max's Christmas, Max's Easter, and I NEVER tired of reading Julius, the Baby of the World, Chester's Way, and Chrysanthemum. My kids also loved the MacDuff stories by Rosemary Wells.

Good suggestions, Sheila! Those MacDuff stories are great, aren't they? There's a collection of all the stories in one book, and I may just have to check that out of the library soon. My 8 year old loves picture books, and it would be fun to re-visit MacDuff.

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