Picture Books

The school year is beginning, and I turn to the most important thing I do in teaching – reading aloud.  This is an earlier post that explodes with many picture books I discovered, and how they became the golden key.  This is the beginning of many book reviews and stories behind what happened when I read aloud.  Stay tuned!

My very first day of teaching was filled with nerves.  There I was, sitting in front of fifteen children, ready to read-aloud a book that was new to me- Swimmy by Leo Lionni.  Thus began my love of children’s books and reading.  My life was about to change.  It was more than the book; it was the full experience with the words and illustrations, and the children.


Suddenly the library and local book store became my favorite stops. I vowed to start my own book collection.  One of my first purchases was Owl Moon by Jane Yolen. Breathtaking!  What does a teacher do when the book is so good that children need more? We created a giant mural, and then we went “owling”- at school, at night.  Parents brought spotlights, and we called to owls in the woods behind the playground. Years later, parents still recalled that remarkable night.

Books started to trigger more than marinating vocabulary.  I bought Caps For Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina.  The children made caps, and we performed a play for the school.  I had never done a play performance with children.  I quickly realized that adding this step made reading even better, not to mention building self confidence.

Fairy tales followed, and the favorites I added to my collection were Rapunzel by Paul O Zelinsky, The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Paul Galdone, and Jack and the Beanstalk by John Howe.  Yes, play performances were stellar.  One line in Jack and the Beanstalk prompted us to write to the author.  Jack’s mother said to Jack, “You stupid boy.”  John Howe kindly replied to the children with a handwritten two-page letter on why he used the word “stupid.”

I couldn’t read enough.  I read all kinds of books.  In time I just knew the good ones, like Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion, King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood, and The Three Robbers by Tomi Ungerer.


I cried when reading-aloud books like The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco, Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. Tears are a good thing- they teach love so that children learn to feel for others.

I laughed my head off reading-aloud books like Would You Rather by John Birningham and Rotten Ralph by Jack Gantos.  Belly laughing is a terrific experience with children!

Books became geography lessons.  Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton was the best in learning north, south, east and west- much like her book The Little House was the best in teaching history.  I began to use a big book atlas to expand on learning.  At any opportunity we opened up this marvelous tool to bringing books to life.  It was common to become sidetracked.  Isn’t that great?

Children need to understand emotions.  That’s an important part of preschool.  I discovered There’s an Alligator Under My Bed by Mercer Mayer, Pig Pig Grows Up by David McPhail, Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman, and Humphrey the Lost Whale by Wendy Tokuda and Richard Hall.  Together,  we worry and wonder.

What happened next?  Children wanted to read on their own.  It is a common scene in my classroom:


Today I continue to read these books (and many, many more), along with new ones that I collect along the years.  There are rhyming books, poetry, books that I sing…

I teach from the heart, thanks to reading-aloud.  In the words to the song, “Make new friends and keep the old.  One is silver and the older gold.”  A book is a friend, whether silver or gold!


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in books, children's books, Early Education, Imagination, Inspiration, picture books, reading, reading aloud, reading aloud, Teaching young children, wonder and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to Picture Books

  1. Darlene says:

    Books are indeed our best friends. They kept me company as a lonely child on the prairies and took me to many places. Thanks for instilling that fondness in the children.

  2. beetleypete says:

    As always, you get to the heart of the educational experience. Bringing books alive with plays, outdoor experiences, and practical appreciations of the life lessons contained in those pages.
    Gold indeed, Jennie, and worth more than its weight.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. What a gift, Jennie. When I’m shopping with my daughter she is sometimes allowed a $5 small toy if she’s good. Unless we are in a book shop, then she can have whatever she likes. He hasn’t worked that out yet. 😁

  4. Ritu says:

    I live picture books!

  5. Books definitely are friends, Jennie. I still have many of my “friends” from my childhood.

  6. TanGental says:

    There have been many joys parenting but being able to read aloud to them is right up there. I think as they got a little older I cried most over Morpurgo’s works
    Utterly extraordinary writer. Lovely reminder of those easy pleasures Jennie

  7. Elihu says:

    One thing I’ve tried to do as a parent is encourage reading by reading aloud and supplying plenty of books either through purchase or borrowing from the library. I love seeing my own children so enthusiastic about reading!

  8. Such a warm, happy post, Jennie. Thank you! I love the way you closed it — a book really is a friend, no matter our age. I think you’re absolutely right that children are part of the experience of children’s books. You’re a delight. Hugs on the wing!

  9. You make me want to write a children’s book, Jennie. I just love the way you describe the experiences with them. 😀

  10. John Kraft says:

    A wonderful glimpse into your history.
    Thank you.

  11. frenchc1955 says:

    Reblogged this on charles french words reading and writing and commented:
    Here is another wonderful post from an excellent teacher–Jennie!

  12. Norah says:

    Poor gold, Jennie. Of course, I agree. But you knew I would. So many books. Not enough hours. 🙂

  13. What a wonderful gift to give a child. You are truly amazing Jennie Xx

  14. Books-good ones – could be an entire curriculum. How enriching.

  15. Dan Antion says:

    I think the important thing is understanding what children need, and finding a way to give it to them. You seem to do that very well, Jennie.

  16. Reblogged this on Notes from An Alien and commented:
    Yeah, I know… It’s Monday and there’s a re-blog below this message…

    See, what happened was…

    Yesterday, Right Here, I did the Blog Conversation post; but, I’ve rigged all kinds of alarms and notifiers to make sure the next one is on Wednesday…

    So… go ahead and enjoy this re-blog 🙂

  17. Léa says:

    Solitude is essential, it is like air. Yet a life without books would sufficate and leave me lonely. With a book, one is never alone.

    Thank you so much. You have given those children a gift that can see them throughout their lives.

  18. What surprised me was how reading to kids reinvigorated my writing — especially reminding me how to look differently at the world I had become oblivious to!

    • Jennie says:

      Yes!! Reading to children is just as good for the reader. The book you read and the questions children ask can completely change how you see the world. Isn’t that wonderful?

  19. Have a wonderful start to the new year, Jennie, with all your new little friends. Happy Reading!

  20. dgkaye says:

    What a most beautiful post Jennie. It’s no wonder you’re such a gifted teacher because you have wonderful compassion. And a teacher without compassion is like a doctor without a bedside manner. These tender years are when those kids are becoming little sponges and reading is a great way to let them experience emotions. ❤

  21. Wonderful way to show the importance of books. With all the fun extracurricular activities, I’m sure your students remember the stories for many years after. Have a great start to the new school year!

    • Jennie says:

      Front-facing is the way to go, Marcia. Makes all the difference in the world to children, which you already know at the library. And yes, they do remember for many years. 🙂 School started for teachers this week, and for children next week. I can’t wait to read aloud! 😀

  22. I’m going to try and put together a list of all your favorite books and see how many of them I can find and read. I looked around in our library but without a list, it was a little overwhelming. I’m going through my first childhood a little late but it’s fun. We saw Christopher Robin this weekend and I told my daughter that I didn’t remember reading the Pooh stories. I think I’m getting them for my birthday. 😉

  23. goddessmagickreview says:

    Check out my book reviews at:
    Blessed Be,
    Goddess Magick Review

  24. Sarah M. says:

    That is so sweet! I hope you have many more opportunities to do this in the future.

  25. Pingback: The Sunshine Blogger Award, #sunshinebloggeraward, #spreadalittlesunshine – ARJung

  26. Pingback: Picture Books — A Teacher’s Reflections – SEO

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s