My Picture Book 10 for 10 for 2013

Connections across the generations. Picture Book 10 for 10 There's a Book for that

I am thrilled to be participating in the Picture Book 10 for 10 event for the second time. This celebration of picture books is hosted by Cathy from Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community and Mandy from Enjoy and Embrace Learning. What are the picture books that you just can not live without?

pb 10 for 10

Last year I shared many of my all time favourite picture books. This year, I thought I would focus on what has become a beloved theme: picture books that feature a connection between generations – whether it is a child and a grandparent or a child and a grandparent like figure.

These stories remind us that time is a gift, memories have big meaning and wisdom shared always enhances what we know.

My top ten favourites on this theme: Connections across the generations

Mr. Zinger’s Hat written by Cary Fagan and illustrated by Dusan Petricic

A wonderful story about the power of storytelling and how it meanders this way and that between the narrator and the “creatively involved” listener. Young Leo and Mr. Zinger  collectively “create” a story. And then the storytelling continues once Leo has been “bit” by the writing/narrating bug. Just lovely.

Mr Zinger's Hat: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

The Friend written by Sarah Stewart and illustrated by David Small

A beautiful friendship and love exist between little Belle and her devoted housekeeper Beatrice. Bea is little Belle’s daily companion as her parents race off here and there, too “busy” to give their child time. Reminds us that spending time with a child is everything even when doing the most mundane chores. Connection, warmth, love . . . What makes this story even more special is that it is inspired by a similar relationship in the author’s childhood. I wish I owned this book but sadly it is out of print. As always Small and Stewart create a treasured story together.

The Friend: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

The Imaginary Garden written by Andrew Larsen and illustrated by Irene Luxbacher

The Imaginary Garden tells a story of grandfather and granddaughter who paint a lush garden mural when a real garden is no longer possible in Poppa’s new apartment. I used this book as inspiration for some beautiful garden art with my students.

 The Imaginary Garden: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

The Frank Show, a David Mackintosh title

This title is all about a young boy who thinks his Grandad Frank is not going to be an interesting share at Show and Tell. But, watch out for the older generation! Boy do they pull out all the stops. A great book to share to highlight how wonderful it is to get to know our grandparents. (My own Dad who happens to be a “Papa Frank” loved this title and read it to my nieces :-))

The Frank Show: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

Oma’s Quilt written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Stephane Jorisch

Emily’s Oma (grandmother) has to move to a retirement home and she is very reluctant to do so.  What about her precious things? Her neighbours? Cooking apple strudel? Even the bowling alley at the home doesn’t change her mind (smelly shoes!) While Emily and her mother are sorting through Oma’s possessions, Emily has a wonderful idea. Why not make a memory quilt for Oma!?

Oma's Quilt: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

Grandpa Green by Lane Smith 

This book has so much of what I love- adoration for a Grandfather (a Great Grandfather in this case!), nostalgia for sick days and lots of reading, gardens, and the love of family history shared between generations. Exquisite!

Grandpa Green: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

Mr. George Baker written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Jon J Muth

What a special story that celebrates friendship, literacy and the sentiment that it is never too late to learn something new. Young Harry waits for the school bus every morning with his friend and neighbour Mr. George Baker. Mr. Baker, a spry and charming man is a hundred years old and has never learned how to read. “That must be corrected,” says George. Lyrical. Simple. Inspirational. A book to share with new learners of every age.

Mr. George Baker: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

The Wednesday Surprise written by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Donald Carrick

Anna spends every evening with her Grandma. After dinner and dishes, Grandma and Anna work on a surprise for Dad’s birthday. The surprise is all about books and reading and it makes me cry no matter how many times I read this story. Special. Special. Special.

The Wednesday Surprise: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco

When Mary Ellen confesses that she is tired of reading, Grandpa leads her (and half the community!) on an adventure that involves racing over fields and country roads in search of a bee tree. Along with the reward of baking powder biscuits and sweet honey, Mary Ellen receives some of Grandpa’s wisdom:

“There is sweetness inside of that book too! Such things . . . adventure, knowledge and wisdom. But these things do not come easily. You have to pursue them.”

The Bee Tree: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

William’s Doll written by Charlotte Zolotow and illustrated by William Pene Du Bois

A classic and consistently important story that shakes up thinking that is based in stereotypes. Brothers, neighbours and Dad send William the message that wanting a doll is wrong, something for a “sissy” and certainly not for a boy. But Grandma arrives, and in her wise and quiet way manages to get William the doll he covets and give the message to Dad that William wants a doll to love, but also to “play” at being a father – learning to do all of the things he will need to do one day for his own child. More than forty years old, this book is still relevant. I used it with a class last year and it was powerful.

William's Doll: A Connection Between Generations There's a Book for That

Last year, my list featured two more favourites on this theme. Stories that remain favourites.

Connections across the generations. Picture Book 10 for 10 There's a Book for that

(Knew I would find a way to “be creative” (a.k.a. cheat) with the 10 book guideline :-))

Not only do I love books that celebrate connections between the generations, I also love the magic that happens when books are shared during reading experiences. I shared that in this post: The Grandparent Effect

Please share if you have other titles that fit with this theme of connections across generations.

Happy Reading!

“Stereotypes shrink your brain!”


In preparation for Pink Shirt Day, we have been having discussions about bullying, stereotypes and how cruel and ignorant people can be. These discussions have  been inspired by many picture books that have helped us understand and explore stereotypes – particularly gender stereotypes. Over the past two days we have been making pink day collages based in part on Henri Matisse‘s collages. We have also been writing banners that question stereotypes.

The overall effect posted up on our hallway bulletin board is very powerful!


Some girls really wanted to point out that generalizations about girls did NOT apply to them! Carmen explains that she doesn’t like wearing dresses or skirts!


Catriona is also very clear:


Boys also wanted people to understand that there shouldn’t be stereoptypes based on their gender. Sergio‘s words are powerful.


Isa always sees the beauty in the natural world that many of us miss. His statement is an important one!


Deandra reminds us that it is never too early to talk about our appearance and question the value we put on it. None of us have to be perfect but it is certainly sad when girls feel that pressure to look a certain way because they’re supposed to be “pretty.”


These pieces were inspired by three great stories we read and talked about today.

William’s Doll by Charolette Zolotow. Illustrated by William Pene Du Bois.

William really wants a doll. His Dad thinks he should have a basketball. The boy next door calls him a “sissy” and his brother thinks he’s a creep. But William desperately wants a doll to care for and love. When Grandma comes to visit, she understands. She buys William a doll and makes his father understand that he is thinking of the whole thing in a limited way. William wants a doll to love, but also to “play” at being a father – learning to do all of the things he will need to do one day for his own child. Such a lovely timeless story that shakes up the stereotype that dolls are just for girls!

Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola

Everyone in Oliver’s life seems to struggle with the fact that he wants to dance instead of doing boy things like “. . . any kind of ball!” The boys from school are particularly cruel, writing hurtful things on the wall at school.


Oliver never gives up his passion and shows everyone, even those boys, that someone who is true to themselves is a real star!

The Only Boy in Ballet Class by Denise Gruska and illustrated by Amy Wummer is a more recently published book addressing the same theme.

Tucker loves to dance. Lives to dance. Dances through life! This should be something to celebrate but of course the boys his age tease him for being different. His Uncle Frank is convinced he should be playing football. When Tucker is approached by the boys to be on the team for the championship game because they must have one more player, his Uncle agrees for him. Tucker manages to bring the team to victory by using his dance agility and grace to avoid being tackled. What is great about this book is that it doesn’t end here. The next page shows Tucker walking to his dance studio door and finding a pile of running shoes. The football boys who teased him have realized that ballet moves are pretty awesome and have come to join his class. Ballet becomes something cool and not stereotypically just a girl’s thing!

Our discussions were fantastic today. A few more important points:

* The title of this post was inspired by Catriona who wrote, “Your brain shrinks when you do steroetypes.”

*We had a very interesting conversation about why lego would market pink lego when girls already like lego!? They’ll like pink lego more? What’s with that?

*We did talk about why each of the books we read today featured a boy character being teased for doing a so called “girl” thing. What about girls who do “boy” things? Great question and on our “to read” pile tomorrow is Princess Knight but . . . It does seem that often girls liking/doing “boy” things is more generally tolerated than boys liking/doing “girl” things.

*The great thing I noticed? Stereotypes are not ingrained in these children’s brains like they were when I was a child! “Of course boys can dance,” they would comment easily. “Boys can like dolls and girls don’t have to! It’s just who you are!” Yes, we need to explore stereotypes. Yes, we need to talk about how ignorance leads to cruelty/bullying. But we can also be grateful that these children don’t just celebrate diversity. Diversity is, for the most part, what they know and expect.  Hoorah!