Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015

It is that time of year where picture book love is celebrated and shared! Yes, Picture book 10 for 10 is here!

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 fourth year participating in this event. In 2012, I shared ten beloved titles. In 2013, I went with a theme: Connections across the generations. Last year (2014) I shared ten “go to” titles on various themes like generosity, courage and forgiveness.

This year I decided to share ten historical fiction titles that are favourites of mine. When we can engage children with wondering and thinking about another time and place and what it was like for people who lived then, our discussions automatically center on who we are as people. Such rich and important conversations to have. Many of these titles can also be shared with students as we try and read more diverse titles in our classrooms.

Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

My top ten favourites on this theme: Historical Fiction

That Book Woman written by Heather Henson and illustrated by David Small (2008)

What is more beautiful than bravery and perseverance to bring books into the homes of children who don’t even have the chance to go to school? Set in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1930s, this book is inspired by the Pack Horse Librarians who brought books by horseback to areas where there were few if any schools and no libraries. A story about the power of books, the devotion they are given and the magic that happens when a reader is made.

 That Book Woman Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles and illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue (2001)

A story of friendship, prejudice and courage set in the American South in 1964. Beautifully written – lyrical text and honest emotions, this book is one of the best historical fiction picture books I have read.

Freedom Summer Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Busing Brewster written by Richard Michelson and illustrated by R.G. Roth (2010)

A picture book with many important themes: having a dream, the power of libraries to be transformative and what it was like to be black at an all white school. Set in the 1970s when integration was being “helped” along by forced busing – bringing black students into white schools, this story gives children a glimpse into the racial tensions of the time and the complexities of integration.

 Busing Brewster Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Shi-shi-etko written by Nicola Campbell and illustrated by Kim LaFave (2005)

Shi-shi-etko has only four more days until she must attend residential school. She spends these precious days with her family, in nature gathering her memories and avsorbing the wisdom of her family. Such a beautiful book about a very heartbreaking topic. My students were mesmerized. And full of questions.

 Shi-shi-etko Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Lizzie Nonsense by Jan Ormerod (2004)

The illustrations in this title are incredible. It is nostalgic. Lonely. Gives us a glimpse of the hardships of early pioneer life. Set, so very beautifully, in Australia.

Lizzie Nonsense Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

The Other Side written by Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by E.B. Lewis (2001)

This author/illustrator combination create absolute magic. So much in one little picture book with huge implications for discussion. In a segregated town, black and white don’t mix. A fence that represents the division of race becomes just a fence at the end of the story when a whole row of girls perches atop it.

 The Other Side Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Elsie’s Bird written by Jane Yolen and David Small (2010)

It is the late 1800s and Elsie has lost her mother. Her father moves her to the Nebraska prairie from their home in Boston. When Elsie’s beloved canary escapes his cage she must venture out into the landscape of this new quiet, open space. Both Yolen and Small are at their best – this is a literary and visual treat.

Elsie's Bird Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

Red Kite, Blue Kite written by Ji-li Jiang and illustrated by Greg Ruth (2013)

Rich in truth and history (based on the story of the author’s family friend), this book is set during the Cultural Revolution in China. It is the story of father and son –  separated by distance and circumstances who stay connected through kites in the sky. Heartbreaking but full of hope. Such a beautiful book.

Red kite, blue kite Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

A Single Pebble: A Story of the Silk Road by Bonnie Christensen (2013)

An appealing book on so many levels – the history, the geography, the adventure, the culture – wow. The story begins with one girl in China (ninth century China) who dreams of traveling The Silk Road trade route. Not able to travel even part of the way with her father, she asks him to bring a single pebble to send along the road to a child somewhere further along. The path of the pebble is incredible as it is passed from person to person finally ending up in Italy. My son read this book and found it fascinating – all of the old maps and interesting journey.

 A Single Pebble Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries. Four Families. One Delicious Treat. written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall (2015)

This book does so much. As we travel through time with a recipe for a simple summer dessert, we are treated to a history lesson that is much more than how kitchen utensils and appliances have changed. Sometimes, history titles have heavy themes. This one is about the everyday of cooking together. Pure delight.

A Fine Dessert Monday Historical Fiction Titles: ten of my favourites for #Pb10for10 2015 There's a Book for That

I have other favourites on this theme that I didn’t include. Check out my Historical Fiction Pinterest board.

Follow along on twitter using the #pb10for10 hashtag. All posts will be linked on the Google Community Site for Picture Book 10 for 10


Happy picture book reading!  

Monday January 26th, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. This week with all of the buzz of #MockCaldecott, I had many to choose from. But this photo of these two boys quietly reading is my favourite. It captures what happens when there are a few free moments in our class – students grab books and read. Choices and habits that are simple, sure, solid. Love.

For a peek at some related #booklove attached to our  #MockCaldecott, head over to my classroom blog and read about our guessing of title #3 in Aaron Becker‘s trilogy: Journey, Quest , . . . .? 

Monday January 26th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.


Favourites of the week:

A Perfectly Messed Up Story by Patrick McDonnell

There are many things I adore about this little title. The value it places on books. It’s philosophical musings. The coffee rings. The wit. Lovely, lovely, lovely!

A Perfectly Messed up Story Monday January 26th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Stormy Night by Salina Yoon

Sweet through and through. A stormy night and a brave little bear (with the help of his family) handles the noises of a storm.

Stormy Night Monday January 26th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Jonathan & Martha by Petr Horácek 

Playful and fun with lift up parts, cut outs and worms that battle into a tied up companionship, this books has huge potential for our buddy reading collection.

Jonathan & Martha Monday January 26th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas written by Lynn Cox and illustrated by Brian Floca 

What a story! An elephant seal that felt at home in a river in Christchurch New Zealand. When the well meaning townspeople bring her out to the ocean where they assume she will be safer and more content, she manages to return time after time.

Elizabeth-Queen-of-the-Seas- Monday January 26th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Maudie and Bear written by Jan Ormerod and illustrated by Freya Blackwood

Anything Freya Blackwood and I am a little in love. Interesting reactions to this title. Our little Maudie is full of spunk, personality and . . . .but bear is calm, solid and consistent. Full of patience and love. Would be interesting to talk with children about what they think about the interactions. I think Maudie actually represents many little ones who are quite focussed on self.

Maudie and Bear Monday January 26th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also finished (book #4 from my #MustReadin2015 list) The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Lots of love. Lots of pain. Grief and mourning muddled up with falling in love and living. Some stop you in your tracks images and lines. Wow.

The Sky is Everywhere Monday January 26th, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Up next? I finished reading Twerp by Mark Goldblatt to my children as our family read aloud. I highly recommend this title if you haven’t read it. It would make an ideal middle school read aloud (Grade 6 and up I think) Tonight we started reading The Shadowhand Covenant (Book Two of the Vengekeep Prophecies) by Brian Farrey

I am reading The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 5/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 32/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 4/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 5/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 2/50 books read


Monday August 12th, 2013

It’s Monday! What are you reading?



Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult reads!

I did lots of picture book reading this week – often lugging stacks of books to the pool to read while my children had swimming lessons. I did my best to narrow the books I want to feature this week to ten:

Journey by Aaron Becker

Gorgeous. Inspired. I shared this with my family and we had so many connections to other stories and experiences. My children thought of Harold and the Purple Crayon, Howl’s Moving Castle, Airborn . . . A book that lures you right back to the beginning to start it again. A book you won’t be able to resist. It’s a must own.

Journey  #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Andrew Drew and Drew by Barney Saltzberg

Very creative – such an experience seeing what unfolds with each lifting of the flaps. Celebrates imagination and doodles that might become  . . .

Andrew Drew and Drew #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Wag by Patrick McDonnell

Why is it exactly that Earl’s tail wags so enthusiastically? It takes a while to get to the answer but it is absolutely worth it. Adorable.

Wag #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Someday a Tree by Eve Bunting and Ronald Himler

A very special story about an important tree that a family visits everyday. When it turns out this tree is dying, it is heartbreaking. Touches on the life cycle of trees, environmental hazards, community, hope. So many possibilities for the primary classroom.

Someday a Tree #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

No Roses for Harry! written by Gene Zion and illustrated by Margaret Bloy Graham

How did I not know there were other stories about Harry (of Dirty Dog fame)? And wow, am I glad I found out!

no roses for harry #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

A Long Way Away by Frank Viva

I am still not sure of this title. I appreciate the concept of two stories in one – told either front to back or back to front – very creative. But . . . I kind of felt like the images could have stood on their own. I think this could easily have been a fantastic wordless title. I will see what my students think in the fall. With this book I really need “test readers” to try it out and see . . .

a long way away #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Matchbox Diary  by Paul Fleischman illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline 

I wasn’t quite prepared for just how beautiful these illustrations would be. The cover hints at the story’s concept and not the beauty of what is inside. Still – the concept – sigh. Just amazing. History, stories and memories told through unveiling of various contents of a number of matchboxes. Also love the intergenerational connection! A favourite of the year absolutely.

MatchboxDiary #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Goodbye Mousie written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Jan Ormerod

A well done title that deals with the death of a pet – how will it be handled by a preschooler? Illustrations of the family interactions are warm and natural.

goodbye mousie #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Bluebird by Bob Staake So I will confess that I have been avoiding this book since it was published. I think every staff member at Vancouver Kidsbooks (my local bookstore) has tried to share it with me or inquired whether I’ve read it yet. And, I’ve made multiple excuses. “Not in the mood.” “The cover just doesn’t grab me.” “I’ll look at it next time I’m in.” The truth? The cover has been whispering to me – “I’m going to get to you in a big way.” I knew I would love this book. I knew I would find it powerful. I knew I would find multiple ways to share it with my students and that our conversations would be huge and raw and honest as conversations with kids about great books often tend to be. I’m not going to share details about this book. I’m sure everyone but me has already experienced it. I will just say that this time at the book store, I read it and then, it came home with me.

 Bluebird #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frog: A Scientific Mystery by Sandra Markle

A fantastic nonfiction read. What was happening to the golden frogs in the Panama? Could they be saved? This book explores the thinking and research of the scientists who tried to answer these questions. A longer read but could be shared even in upper primary over multiple read aloud sessions. So much to discuss – purposes of zoos we might not have known, ecology, environment, endangered species . . .

 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I continue to try and read early chapter books and graphic novels that are already in my classroom This week I read:

Ivy + Bean (Book 1) by Annie Barrows and illustrated by Sophie Blackall 

Somehow I have never sat down and read an entire Ivy + Bean. What was I thinking? They are more delightful than my skimming through titles had conveyed. Spunky characters in all the best ways. A friend of ours loves reading them with his daughter. He says it best:

“I like that these books have a bit of a wicked edge to them, a lovely appreciation of 7-year old anarchists. Nothing saccharine about Ivy&Bean.”

Ivy&Bean #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett J. Krosoczka 

Also realized that I had never read the first Lunch Lady title. I didn’t really read this so much as read it along to a running commentary from my children asking me which part I was at or what had just happened or did I think that . . . Wow, do kids love Lunch Lady! A series I always love recommending.

Lunch Lady #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I also read Sold by Patricia McCormick

A difficult but important read. A book that I hope is in all high school libraries.

Sold #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I am currently reading Eleanor and Park (almost finished!)  Loving it so far 🙂

I also finished

Igniting a Passion for Reading: Successful Strategies for Building Lifetime Readers by Steven L. Layne

Appreciated Layne’s voice and passion for making reading something that is adored by students everywhere. He makes it very clear however, that this passion begins with the environment we create in our classrooms. There are many people who need this book.

#IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Next up? I have a few novels I want to read that are due back at the library at around the same time so it will be a due date competition that determines what I read!