Mrs. Williams' Favorite Children's Books

Great children's books that can be utilized in the K-6 classroom
Wonder - R.J. Palacio

I have not yet read Wonder, but I plan to very soon.  I know the premise of the story is about a young boy who has a disability that enters into public school for the first time.  The story promotes diversity and acceptance.  Using this in the classroom, I'm sure the obvious topics of bullying will arise.  Perhaps, this book will motivate students to not be a bully or a bystander.

The Giving Tree - Shel Silverstein

The Giving Tree feels like coming home.  I LOVE this book, and have fond memories of my mom reading it to me as a chid.  The book is about a tree who loves a little boy.  As the boy ages, she gives all of herself until there is nothing left to give.  I used to think the book was very sweet, but as I've gotten older, I understand the sadness that is within the book.  

 

I would use this book to discuss nature preservation in my classroom.  Real trees give of themselves until there is nothing left and we ruin our natural resources, just as in the book.  This is a good introduction to a "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" unit. 

If I Ran for President - Catherine Stier

This is a great introduction to politics.  I also really like that it portrays an African American running for president on the cover.  After reading this book, allow students to create their own campaigns if they were running for president.  Have them think about what they would change or what they would like to accomplish as president.  They could make posters and write their own persuasive speeches.  This is appropriate for grades 3-5.

Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes - Eric Litwin, James Dean

Pete is one cool cat!  He is so excited about his new white shoes.  However, he keeps stepping in different items that changes the color of his shoes.  Does he mind? No! He keeps his cool and sings his song.  This book is great for the obvious, such as color recognition.  However, I saw a great activity where the teacher let the students write their favorite color of Pete's shoes on an anchor chart, and then bar charted the results.  What a great way to incorporate math and reading!

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day - Ray Cruz, Judith Viorst

I love Alexander. I always enjoyed hearing this story, and when I learned to read, it was one I picked continuously for independent reading.  Alexander is just having a bad day.  Nothing is going well for him.  To us adults, lots of minor things are just piling up to create a bad day.  To Alexander, they are all majorly horrible things to happen.  However, they are pretty normal occurrences that most kids can relate with.  This text could be read and students can brainstorm suggestions for Alexander to turn his day around.  The teacher can offer advice, as well.  Later, when they are going through a similar bad day, they can recall their advice to Alexander and, perhaps, turn their day around.  The text is appropriate for grades 1-2, but I think that with this activity, even 3rd graders could benefit.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie - Laura Joffe Numeroff, Felicia Bond

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is a cute book that tells about the chain reaction that you are bound to encounter if you, in fact, give a mouse a cookie!  For grades 1-2, this text provides a great opportunity to learn all about cause and effect and series of events.

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown - Charles M. Schulz

I love Charlie Brown books.  They are instantly recognizable characters to most students, and the books are easy to read independently.  It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown  would be a good read aloud right before Halloween, or it would be a great center for reader's theatre or student recording.  Both of these centers promote fluency.  This is appropriate for grades 1-3.

Because of Winn-Dixie - Kate DiCamillo

Because of Winn Dixie is the story of Opal and her father as they begin their new life in Florida.  Opal rescues a dog named Winn Dixie, who provides her with connections to her community and helps her to make peace with her past.  I really loved the character of Opal and felt that she was very relatable.  She had a different home life with a single father and felt that she had no friends.  I rooted for her throughout the book.  There are many diverse characters within Winn Dixie.  I think this book would be perfect to study characterization and character traits.  This text would be appropriate for grades 3-5.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing  - Judy Blume

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the story of Peter and his little brother Fudge.  Fudge is so funny, and students enjoy hearing about his antics.  One activity that I have seen with read alouds are friendly letters.  The students write friendly letters to the teacher identifying their favorite parts of the text, asking questions, and making connections.  I really like this activity because it allows the teacher to see how each student is individually processing a text, allows the student to process in their own time, and practice their writing skills.  This text would be used with 3-4 graders.

Matilda - Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake

Matilda is the story of an incredibly bright little girl who was born into a family who doesn't understand her.  While attending school, she meets several people who will influence her life forever.  After students read the book, they can watch the movie and compare and contrast the two different forms of media.  This is appropriate for grades 3-4.

The Best School Year Ever - Barbara Robinson

Another funny book about the Herdman clan!  I would use this book at the beginning of the year as a model for what not to do in the classroom.  As the students read about the Herdman's antics, allow them to create what they believe would be important classroom rules for your classroom.  This is something teachers will normally do anyway, but with the text, literacy could be incorporated.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever - Barbara Robinson

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever! was one of the funniest books that I read as a child.  Follow the adventures of the Herdman family as they navigate the Christmas season.  The Herdmans are children who lie, cheat, and steal.  They are the least likely children to be cast as the lead in the church Christmas play.  Students will love this as a read aloud during December.  A fun project to do would be to break up in groups, pick a scene from the book, and create a complete puppet show.  Students would be responsible for creating the bag puppets, writing the skits, and performing for the class.  This would be appropriate for grades 3-5.

Amelia Bedelia - Peggy Parish, Fritz Siebel

Amelia Bedelia is so funny!  Your students will love to read about all of her crazy mishaps.  With Amelia Bedelia, you can teach about idioms, which would be helpful for English speaking students or ELL students.  Also, students can practice detailed, expository writing to help Amelia not make so many mistakes!

What Pet Should I Get? - Dr. Seuss

The unique aspect of What Pet Should I Get? is that it does not have a definitive ending.  The first time that I encountered this book, it was read to me in a read aloud.  I felt frustration at the ending, so I'm sure the other students did!  However, frustration aside, it is a great opportunity to allow students to ponder what pet they would get if they could choose anything they wanted.  After they have made their decision, they can write their own ending to the book describing an adventure with their new pet!  This book is appropriate for grades 1-3.

Oh, the Places You'll Go! - Dr. Seuss

Oh, The Places You'll Go! is my favorite Dr. Seuss book of all time!  It even inspires me.  I have read this to classrooms for career and college week and taken excerpts to use for motivational assemblies.  In my 2-5 classrooms, I would like to use it toward the beginning of the year to motivate students to succeed.  During this time, we could focus on long term and short term goals for the year.  Always remind your students, "Kid, you'll move mountains!"

The Lemonade Crime - Jacqueline Davies

The Lemonade Wars is a series of books that focuses on a young girl and her brother who decide to have a contest about who can sell lemonade and make the most money.  The book explains how the characters invest in ingredients and supplies, sell products, and divide profits.  

 

This text could be used in conjunction with a lesson on economics.  In 3rd grade, I observed a teacher who read this text while her classroom focused on raising "money", buying supplies, and producing/selling products that they made.  Examples of products that the students produced were hair bows, home made necklaces, and posters.  The students earned monopoly money throughout the month, managed it to buy supplies from the teacher, and sold their goods to each other.  At the end of the assignment, the students counted their profits.  Along the way, the teacher taught about investments, money management, and quality control.

 

I believe students in grades 3-6 would enjoy this project and text.

The Witches - Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake

The Witches is a book about a little boy vacationing with his grandma.  While on vacation, he encounters witches, and gets himself into quite a predicament.  This books is appropriate for grades 4-6.  While reading this book with the class, plot structure can be deeply analyzed.