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10 Books First Graders Like

Over at the blog Reflect & Refine, you'll find "August 10 for 10," a roundup of posts by teachers about ten picture books they always want in their classrooms. What a fun idea! I especially like the suggestions for "Ten Picture Books That Boys Can't Live Without," at Creative Literacy.

While I'm not a teacher, I do tutor first graders on an informal basis, and here are ten picture books my reading buddies and I have enjoyed together. (They read aloud; I help when they're stuck on a word.)

1. Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. Everyone loves looking for the tiny Goldbug in the illustrations. We talk about this book as much as read it.

2. The Great Gracie Chase, written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Mark Teague.

3. Who's Hiding? by Satoru Onishi. This has to be the first-graders' favorite book ever. They adore figuring out who's missing, or turned around—the jokes are in the illustrations.

4. Go, Dog, Go! by P.D. Eastman. The kids are always so proud of reading a "long" book.

5. Ten Apples Up On Top, by Dr. Seuss.

6. The House in the Night, written by Susan Marie Swanson and illustrated by Beth Krommes.

7. "Pardon?" Said the Giraffe, by Colin West. The plot hinges on a ginormous sneeze.

8. My Friend Is Sad, by Mo Willems, which inspired this funny discussion between two guys.

9. "Hi, Pizza Man!," by Virginia Walter.

10. The Three Cabritos, written by Eric Kimmel and illustrated by Stephen Gilpin. Kimmel's version of the Three Billy Goats Gruff features a chupacabra instead of a troll.

If you're looking for nonfiction for younger elementary schoolers, a couple of years back I posted about  "50 Easy Readers with a Wow! Factor: Exciting Nonfiction for 1st and 2nd Graders."

Thanks for the inspiration for the post, teaching friends! I hope your new school years are off to an excellent start.

Patricia Reilly Giff's Zigzag Kids Blog Tour

Patricia Reilly Giff, author of Lily's Crossing, Pictures of Hollis Woods, and many other books for children, has begun a new series, the Zigzag Kids, set at an afterschool program. These chapter books are for readers aged six to nine.

A blog tour for Pat Giff and her new books starts tomorrow; next Monday I'll review the first two in the series, Number One Kid and Big Whopper. Here are the stops on the tour. Note that the author is now a blogger, too!

8.10       Cynsations

8.11       Random Acts of Reading

8.12       Where the Best Books Are!

8.13       Shelf Elf

8.14       Mundie Moms

8.15       The Children’s Book Review

8.16       Chicken Spaghetti. Right here!

8.17       Patricia Reilly Giff

Let 'Em Read What They Want

Tara Parker-Pope reports on an interesting new study about children and summer reading, at the New York Times:

Now new research offers a surprisingly simple, and affordable, solution to the summer reading slide. In a three-year study, researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, found that simply giving low-income children access to books at spring fairs — and allowing them to choose books that most interested them — had a significant effect on the summer reading gap.

To read the entire piece, go here. I was tickled at the top choice of book-fair participants, and wowed by the last sentences in the piece, a quote from an expert.

You'll notice that book fairs play a role in the study; the children involved chose free new books there. I have seen at a school where I volunteer that many kids cannot afford to buy books at the book fair, and often can bring only a dollar or so to buy some erasers or bookmarks. This is why organizations like Reading Is Fundamental and First Book are so important; both distribute free new books to kids.


Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding (and the "50 Multicultural Books" List)

9780689844584 In Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding (published in 2006), author Lenore Look and illustrator Yumi Heo accomplish something remarkable: making an information book sing with emotion.

While the rest of her Chinese American family celebrates the nuptials of Stella and Peter, the book's narrator,  Jenny, is decidedly unhappy at what she fears is the loss of her uncle, "a girl's best buddy." In detailing her reaction to the big day's events, she explains Chinese traditions such as children's accompanying the groom to pick up the bride (for good luck), the tea ceremony "where the family officially welcomes the bride" (which Jenny, who's six or so, almost manages to sabotage), and the banquet and its array of treats and symbolic delicacies like long-life noodles. In the end, lovely Stella saves a special task for her new niece and thanks the little girl for "sharing [her] amazing uncle." Just the words Jenny needed to hear!

With big, round faces, kissy lips, and a flat kids-drawing perspective, Yumi Heo's illustrations cleverly reflect the book's child-centered point of view. The humor in both the art and the storytelling makes for a good read-aloud, too. If I were an elementary-school teacher, I'd add this one to the classroom library pronto.

The Cooperative Children's Book Center includes Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding on the recently revised list "50 Multicultural Books Every Child Should Know."  While "should know" is always an opinion (well-informed in CCBC's case), I find that the helpful list provides a lot of fuel for thought. I missed a number of the books on the first go-round, too, and am glad to catch up. CCBC recommends Look and Heo's picture book for children aged 5 to 7.

Uncle Peter's Amazing Chinese Wedding. Written by Lenore Look and illustrated by Yumi Heo. Anne Schwartz/Atheneum, 2006.