Saturday, March 8, 2014

Picture Book Treasures

I always feel a little bit guilty about "just reading" to my classes that I teach. However, I have read enough research to know that read alouds are critical experiences for children to have.  

The Iowa Goldfinch nominees are a great collection of picture books (with a few easy readers and one beginning chapter book this year) that students usually love hearing.  Last year I began the project of reading all of the Goldfinch award contenders aloud to grades K-2 and having them vote on their favorite.

Realistically this takes a few weeks.  I began the project again this week and selected three picture books to share:

The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine is the first picture book I read aloud to each class. Ming and his parents are poor and in need of food. He is instructed to trade in some eggs for a bit of rice. Instead, on his way to town, Ming is convinced by an old man he meets on the way to trade the eggs for an old rusty wok with no handle.

This wok proves to be different from any other wok, as it travels between Ming's house and that of the richest man in Beijing.  The wok brings food, toys, and money to the poor Chinese family, who promptly turn around and share it with their friends.  

I loved reading this book aloud - especially to the first and second graders. Depending on the class, I felt it was stretching my kindergarten students a bit (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).  I also had a few random fourth graders listening in on the Runaway Wok; these older students especially enjoyed this story.  

Press Here by Herve Tullet is not a new title to me. In fact, I ordered it before it was even published. But this was the first time I read it to so many classes.  And what a fun book to read aloud! Students who were not paying attention before I began reading, were glued to this book.  It was exciting to watch my classes get so involved in a book and fun to have such an interactive read aloud.  

For those not knowing anything about Press Here....the book begins by having the reader press the yellow dot.  When the page is turned, the one yellow dot becomes two.  The reader is then asked to press the dot again, and now there are three dots.  By pressing the dots, rubbing them, blowing on them, and clapping the dots expand, move, and shift.  

My younger students were convinced I was performing magic (how sad it was when I showed them that the changed happened even if I didn't follow the directions given).  I wasn't sure about my second grade audience enjoying this one, but they liked it so much that I went ahead and read it to third grade - who might have been the most interested and engaged grade I shared it with.

I'm thinking this is a great gift book I need to remember to share with nieces and nephews.  

The third picture book I shared this past week is The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson.  Wilson writes the Bear Snores On series that I so enjoy.  I love the rhyming text of this book, which tells the story of the many farm animals and the foods they eat....but the cow loves cookies. With the repeating refrain, my audience was able to chime in and help tell the story with me.

I like all three of these books, but my classes were given the opportunity to vote for their favorite of the three books I read (my very low tech voting method is giving each child a sticky note to place on the book they liked best) and Press Here won by an overwhelming amount.  

Next week I will be sharing Chicks Run Wild by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Pete The Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and Blackout by John Rocco.

Click here for the Iowa Goldfinch 2013-14 nominees.

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