Picture Book 10 for 10 in 2014: “Go to” titles

It is that time of year where picture book love is celebrated and shared! Yes, Picture book 10 for 10 is here! What are the picture books that you just can not live without?

This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning. Thanks to both of them for the work they do to promote this wonderful day of picture book sharing!

This is my third year participating in this event. In 2012, I shared ten beloved titles. In 2013, I went with a theme: Connections across the generations.

This year I changed it up a little. The books I have placed on my list this year are what I call “Go to” titles So often someone will ask, “Do you have a picture book about _____________?” These are the titles that I reach for – some I have been reading and sharing for years. Some, I have discovered more recently but I know they will also become favourites that I rely on.

Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

So if you are asked any of these questions, please, feel free to borrow from my list! I hope some of these favourites become your favourites.

Do you have a picture book about generosity?

Call it my generous spirit but for this theme I must highlight two titles. Both bring me to tears every time I read them. I couldn’t pick just one. Phew, cheating bending the rules is out of the way immediately. On to the books . . .

Melissa Parkington’s Beautiful, Beautiful Hair written by Pat Brisson and illustrated by Suzanne Bloom (2006)

Melissa Parkington is known for her beautiful hair – everyone notices it and comments on how special it is. But Melissa wants to be known for something special that she does, not simply for something that grows out of her head. She tries to do many things to make herself special – but what ends up happening time and time again, is that she is noticed for her kindness. Melissa realizes that performing acts of kindness is what is special about her. Cutting her hair so that it can be made into a wig is an act of generosity that makes ultimate sense to her. Amazing book! What a story of generosity and a recognition of true inner beauty.

 Melissa Parkington Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

The Teddy Bear by David McPhail (2005)

A little boy loses his beloved teddy bear. It is found by a homeless man who begins to care for it, also with love. When the little boy later comes across his bear and realizes that someone else needs the bear more than he does, he gives his bear up. Tender and sweet, this book captures a moment of true compassion and the generosity of a little boy to share something that has meant so much. I know children who will so willingly give to help others feel better. David McPhail captures this generous sentiment in a beautiful book.

 The Teddy Bear Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about forgiveness?

Desmond and the Very Mean Word written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Carlton Abrams and illustrated by A.G. Ford (2012)

Gorgeously illustrated by A.G. Ford, this title handles forgiveness and its power in a totally accessible and meaningful way for children. An engaging story of negative interactions between boys where the negative tension is finally soothed through gestures of apology and forgiveness. A wise adult helps Desmond navigate feelings of vengeance, anger and upset. Set in South Africa and based on a true story in Desmond Tutu’s own childhood.

Student reactions here

 Desmond and the Very Mean Word Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about self-expression?

Emily’s Art written and illustrated by Peter Catalanotto (2001)

Emily is an expressive and happy artist until her work is judged in an art contest. The judge’s reactions to her work are hurtful and heartbreaking. She needs to work through her feelings about someone judging her art and her feelings about making pictures she loves. Inspires amazing conversations about rejection, the negative power words can have and about finding your self despite what others might say.

Talked about in my classroom here and here 

 Emily's Art Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about friendship?

Matthew and Tilly, written by Rebecca C. Jones and illustrated by Beth Peck (1991)

There are so many books about friendship but this one remains one of my favourites year after year. It explores the feelings of friendship and forgiveness in a totally believable way. A short but powerful story about best friends that argue, as friends do, but then find it easy to forgive each other when they realize that favourite activities are just not the same without a friend. When I read this aloud, I watch the rhythms of conflict, tension and reconciliation play out in the student’s faces. They feel each page deeply.

Matthew and Tilly Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about courage?

Black Dog by Levi Pinfold (2011)

A black dog is spotted outside the window of the Hope family residence. As it is described and worried about, it “becomes” larger than life – the size of a tiger. . . no, an elephant . . . maybe a T-rex? These illustrations are beautifully odd. But in the best of ways. From the full page spreads with the huge menacing dog to the little sepia coloured boxes surrounding the text that reveal close ups and clues from the story. Small (the littlest Hope) finally braves the outdoors to confront this creature. What ensues is absolutely delightful – a visual treat to tickle our imaginations. Small becomes large and Large, small. Fear and courage intermix into teasing and challenge and joy. You don’t need to work hard to get a conversation about courage happening after you read this book.

Black Dog Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about grieving?

The Scar written by Charolette Moundlic and illustrated by Olivier Tallec (2009)

This book gets you on the first line, no easing in or warming up: Mom died this morning. We turn page after bright red page and experience, along with the little boy who has just lost his mother, a whole range of emotions: anger, frustration, disbelief, anxiety . . . So sad when just Dad and son try to navigate through their grief, being there for each other but both feeling so alone. Grandma soothes, consoles and explains, patting his chest.

“She’s there,” she says, “in your heart, and she’s not going anywhere.”

Watching the little boy run until it hurts to breathe so that his heart will beat very fast and he will feel connected to his Mom (beating in his chest) is both heartbreaking and comforting. He has found his connection to Mom and can begin to heal. This book needs kleenex, deep breaths and many hugs from those you love to get through it. But it might be the first book I would reach for when a child needs it most. Raw. Human. Real.

 The Scar Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about standing up for yourself?

Willow Finds a Way written by Lana Button illustrated by Tania Howells (2013)

When I read this to my class, there was silence. A well done story, illustrations that convey emotion and a plot that is completely relatable make this title an absolute must for the primary classroom. It explores how we treat each other, standing up for what we know is right, honouring our feelings . . . Children can so often be bossy and controlling and it is often difficult for other children to stand up and be assertive. This book shows us how -through quiet Willow who surprises everyone, including herself.

willow Finds a Way Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about the role of the bystander?

Bird Child written by Nan Forler and illustrated by François Thisdale (2009)

Eliza is a sensitive little girl who witnesses bullying. Lainey, the new girl is teased and excluded. It is terrible for Eliza to stand by and do nothing. She agonizes about it and finally talks to her Mom. The next time Lainey is bullied, Eliza acts. She “reached down inside herself and found her wings.” The power in standing up to say “No, this isn’t okay,” is dealt with carefully by Forler. We are pulled into the story and feel the emotional struggles of Eliza. This book is a must read if you are exploring the bully/bullied/bystander relationship. There are not enough picture books that so thoughtfully explore the active role of the bystander in changing the way a bully might act and the way a peer is treated.

Student reactions here.

Bird Child Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about moving somewhere new?

Neville written by Norman Juster and illustrated by G. Brian Karas (2011)

Who wants to be the new kid? Sad about missing the “real” home far away and starting all over again is just not fun. One little boy has the “moving blues” and how! Mom sends him out for a walk to explore, as Moms do. He stands on the corner and begins to yell, “Neville!” It starts something. Soon everyone is calling for Neville. But he never turns up. A book that touches on moving anxiety, making new friends and realizing things might be a little better than they first seemed. If you haven’t read this book – prepare for the most interesting of twists at the end. One that children are delighted by!

Neville Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

Do you have a picture book about being yourself?

Suki’s Kimono written by Chieri Uegaki and illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch 2003)

This book has long been a favourite in my household. We love how Suki possesses a joyful inner spirit and how she lives in the moment not worrying about what the world might think.  Suki adores her blue cotton kimono – for the memories that it holds and the way it makes her feel. She vows to wear it on her first day of school despite the disapproval of her older sisters and manages to maintain the magical happy feeling of wearing this special kimono throughout her day even when questioned and taunted by classmates.

 suki's Kimono Do you have a picture book about . . . ?

For many of these themes, I could probably have added ten titles. But, knowing that my books might not be your books, I would love to hear from you. If you have a favourite “go to” title on any of these themes, please share in the comments section!

Follow the links above to see other favourite picture book lists and follow along on twitter using the #pb10for10 hashtag.


Happy picture book reading!  

31 thoughts on “Picture Book 10 for 10 in 2014: “Go to” titles

  1. Love this list and there are MANY new titles for us –your theme is perfect for us! We are asked these questions a lot so this is a great format for us to try as well! Thanks
    Clare and Tammy

  2. This is a truly wonderful list, and I love that you have hit on so many big topics for elementary students. Have added several new books to my list, as I am always looking for ways to help my third graders negotiate friendships and relationships in particular. Thanks!

    • It is so true – friendship dynamics are huge at this age. There is so much learning. I love picture books for this reason. They will come back to the learning over and over again.

  3. I’ve heard from you about some of these, Carrie, think Black Dog is especially good for older students, too. How have I missed Bird Child? It is one I will find! Thank you!

    • Yes, Black Dog works for many age groups. Bird Child is a really special book – I have read it to many groups and the results are always the same – so much discussion and impact.

    • Really? I am so happy that you have found new titles that may become new favourites. Please let me know if you enjoy any in particular. As I said in the post, some of these I have shared multiple times and some are fast becoming stand by books.

  4. I really like how you answered questions! Great format! The books you have listed looked delightful! I only have “Matthew and Tilly” right now. Thank you!

  5. Wonderful format for your list, and seriously, how do you keep sharing SO MANY BOOKS I’ve never heard of AND NEED TO READ RIGHT NOW?? I honestly don’t know anybody with as extensive a knowledge of picture books as you have, Carrie. Wow! Excited to discover some new-to-me authors on this list.

    • This comment makes me so happy – thank you seriously for such a lovely compliment. Some of these are older titles and I have been doing this teaching thing for a while . . . I am so pleased you found some books that look interesting to you! Happy reading!

  6. Most of these title are new to me, but you always point me in the right direction.
    Matthew and Tilly was/is one of the stories included in our 2nd grade anthology. (Wow, just realized how old our adopted series is- I’ve been teaching THIRD grade since 2001!) Fun to see it included here on your list.

    • Matthew and Tilly is one of those older titles that remains magical. I do hope that other books on the list are helpful with your 3rd Grade students. I have been teaching a 2/3 or 3/4 or 2/3/4 since 1999! And before this, I taught a special education class.

  7. I couldn’t wait to see your list today! Melissa Parkington’s Beautiful, Beautiful Hair resonated with me since my daughter is always getting complimented on her curls by strangers. I worry about this so I’m delighted there’s a book for that.

    • I so hope you can find a copy of Melissa Parkington – as soon as I found this book at the library, I ordered my own copy and I have shared it multiple times since. So a rich title for all kinds of discussion and it sounds perfect to share with your daughter.

  8. I can’t wait to share this list with my staff – so many perfect choices for so many great themes that we all use! I am familiar with almost all of these titles – particularly fond of Willow and Bird Child. I don’t know the Beautiful Hair book so I’m excited to find that one! It’s hard to narrow down just one book for each of these themes but you managed to do it brilliantly! THANK YOU!

    • Thanks Adrienne. It was challenging but I kind of went with the first title that jumped out at me. They all felt right. I appreciate this lovely comment a lot and am so pleased you find this post “share worthy”

  9. Carrie,
    I don’t know how you do it, but you always share books I do not know. I requested most all of these from my library. There were only a couple of familiar titles. I enjoy stopping by your blog. As I was requesting Melissa Parkington’s Beautiful, Beautiful Hair, I took a look at Pat Brisson, but he has so many books. Hmmmm. I guess I have a little research to do.

    Thanks for joining the conversation. How many years have you participated, Carrie?

    • This is my third year Cathy. My favourite day in August! I’m so glad that you were able to find lots of these books you were interested in at the library. I hope you find them as wonderful as I have.

  10. Lots of new books here for me to discover. I wanted to recommend a book I discovered last year about moving, but for the life of me I can’t find the title or author. So I’ll describe it – it’s about a girl moving from the country (in Canada, I think) to the city. It talked about all the things they loved about the place they were leaving. Near the end of the book was a skyscraper to depict their new home in the city. It was filled with wonderful descriptive language that I used in our personal narrative unit. I’m hoping you know the title. I may have even discovered the title from your blog. I promise to record it in my books I’ve read and loved. If you don’t know it, I’ll have to visit my favorite bookseller and see if they can help.

      • Carrie, I found the book on another blogger’s blog. The title is I Know Here by Laurel Croza. If you don’t know it, you should. It’s lovely.

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