August 10 for 10: A Picture Book Event

Cathy at Reflect and Refine and Mandy at Enjoy and Embrace Learning are co-hosting a special event today stemming from this question:  If you were stranded on an island and had to teach, what 10 picture books would you hope to have in your bag?

Here is a list of the 10 pictures books I would hope to have in my bag (in no particular order):

Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine

A true story of Henry Brown, a run away slave on the Underground Railroad, who found an ingenious way to find freedom. . . he shipped himself in a box.

I absolutely love this picture book!  I never had the chance to use it in the classroom but would use it to teach making predictions and asking questions pertaining to The Underground Railroad.  It’s a beautiful story!

When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant

Inspired by Cynthia Rylant’s childhood spent with her grandparents in the mountains of West Virginia, Rylant lyrically describes the simplicity of living in the country using the phrase, “When I was young in the mountains. . .”.

I used Cynthia Rylant books all the time in my classroom, so I would have to have one in my bag!  This book is great to use to model how to brainstorm topics as well as to teach moving endings.  At the beginning of the year when I was introducing Writer’s Workshop, I would often use this book to provide students with a way to remember their “childhood.”  After reading aloud and discussing how Cynthia Rylant remembered hers, students would write, “When I was young. . .” and complete the thought in their notebook as many times as they saw fit.

My Mama Had A Dancing Heart by Libba Moore Gray

A sweet memoir about a girl and her mother and the fun days they shared through the seasons.  Gray uses wonderful memorable language to convey feeling in this text: “When a warm spring rain would come pinging on the windowpane, we’d kick off our shoes and out into the rain we’d go.” Her choice of adjectives and verbs paints a vivid picture of the activities she and her mother would embark on.

When discussing and modeling word choice for my students, this was a “go-to” book.  It is a fantastic book to model voice and word choice.

Dogku by Andrew Clements

A book written in haiku form! Dogku tells the story of an abandoned dog and the family he encounters. Each page is written as a haiku, but weaves together to tell a story. Will the family keep the dog?

A great model for organization when modeling the Six Traits of Writing.  I never had a chance to use this book in my classroom, but it’s a perfect example of organization.  The entire book is written in haiku form!  After reading it aloud, I would ask students to organize their own story in haiku form.

Amelia’s Notebook by Marissa Moss

Nine-year old Amelia records her thoughts and feelings about moving, her new school and friends.

I used this book at the beginning of every year to model for students how to create and use a Writer’s Notebook.  After reading it aloud, students would create their own personal Writer’s Notebooks.

Encounter by Jane Yolen

A  fantastic picture book written by one of my touchstone text authors, Jane Yolen.  This book is the story of the Taino people and how they reacted when one Christopher Columbus lands on their island.

This is a fantastic picture book to use to model making inferences.  It’s written from the point of view of a young Taino boy.  It’s a great book to tie into your “New World” social studies unit.

Verdi by Janell Cannon

Cannon beautifully writes and illustrates this tale of a carefree snake who learns to love himself despite the fact that he has to grow up. Even though he must age, he does not have to lose the fun-loving, figure-eight forming side of his personality.

When teaching students about word choice and specifically sensory details, I would turn to this book.  It’s a fantastic model of sensory details.

Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution by Laurie Halse Anderson

Everyone has heard about the men of the American Revolution.  But what about the women and girls?  Independent Dames: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution answers the question through thoughtfully researched information.

A great model to teach about the American Revolution, but also to model for students on how to ask questions to build their background knowledge.

Web Files, The by Margie Palatini

Ducktective Web and his partner, Bill, have been called to the farm. All of the vegetables are vanishing! Will they be able to find the culprit and solve the mystery?

I loved to use this book to model conventions for students.  It’s written as a report from a police detective so it has a ton of conventions.  After reading aloud the book, I re-write part of the story and take the conventions out.  I then provide students with the opportunity to determine which conventions are missing.

Dinner at Aunt Connie’s House by Faith Ringgold

A fantastic book that highlights noteworthy African American women through history. Each woman introduces herself and discusses her contributions to U.S. history.

This book is a great model to teach students how to make text-to-text connections.  I would tie this into a biography unit of noteworthy African American women.

So, those are the ten picture books I would hope to have in my bag if I were stranded on a desert island.  My list is ever changing, so if you ask me again next year, it will probably be different!  Head over to Reflect and Refine or Enjoy and Embrace Learning to see what other educators are saying!  And if you arrived here through them, I hope you’ll subscribe and join me as I showcase a new picture book you can teach with weekly!

What are the top ten picture books you would want in your bag?

©2010 by Dawn Little for Picture This! Teaching with Picture Books. All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.


8 thoughts on “August 10 for 10: A Picture Book Event

  1. margie palatini August 11, 2010 / 10:48 AM

    Delighted to see THE WEB FILES on your list. It’s one of my personal favorites. Check out my ‘Inspiration Equation’ page on my website for more on ‘Ducktective Web’.


    • Links to Literacy August 11, 2010 / 3:03 PM

      I’m so happy you stopped by, Margie! It made my day. I’m a huge fan of THE WEB FILES. I will check out your website for more on “Ducktective Web.”

  2. Justine August 11, 2010 / 1:28 PM

    I enjoyed your post. I will have to get my hands on When I Grew up in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant. I keep seeing that book on the jog and am unfamiliar with it. I also like the idea of Amelia’s Notebook and using it to introduce writer’s notebooks. Thank you for sharing your 10. I agree that I probably wouldn’t pick the same ten if I were to do it again.

  3. Bev Baird August 13, 2010 / 8:39 PM

    A great list! Love your choices!

  4. debnance at readerbuzz August 18, 2010 / 6:08 AM

    I loved your ideas here! I will be able to purchase more excellent picture books for my library based on this and the lists of others in the August 10 for 10.

    I am a new follower!

    Let’s share ideas.
    I’d love to have you visit my blog at

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