My Summer of Books – Part 1


My summer has been filled with reading children’s books, from new picture books to books for older children, and classics.  Every one has been satisfying and thrilling, yet in different ways.  Some books are funny, some are filled with history, some teach important lessons in a subtle way.  On and on.  I will tell you about these terrific books.

Part 1: picture books.


Together We Grow by Susan Vaught

The gorgeous illustrations by Kelly Murphy bring to life the story of a barn full of animals during a thunderstorm.  A fox and her kits look for shelter, but they are predators to the animals in the barn.  Can the animals welcome a fox for the night?  The rhyming text is sparse yet rich in language.  The opening words are, “Lightning gash!  Windy lash!”  I love this book!


Be Quiet! and We Will Rock Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

For lovers of the Mother Bruce books, these two new Ryan Higgins books do not disappoint. The humor is engaging and never lets up in Be Quiet!  The storyline in We Will Rock Our Classmates is a classic for children; worry and self doubt combined with bravery.


Billions of Bricks, a Counting Book About Building by Kurt Cyrus

Where, oh where was this book when I was a child?  This is math, a counting book about building with bricks.  It brings counting and numbers to life.  “Two four six.  Ten twenty thirty.  Mix mix mix.  Arches pillars walls and cellars.  Twenty forty sixty eighty.”  These are some of the words in the story that combines rhyming, counting, bricklaying and architecture.  A must read book for children.


One Little Bag, An Amazing Journey by Henry Cole

The delightful pencil drawings, with the brown bag as the only color, are perfect illustrations for the story of a brown bag, over generations.  The wordless book begins with illustrations of a forest and the cutting of trees and a paper mill before the story even begins.  What a build-up.  No words are needed in this story.  It begins with a boy and his brown lunch bag.  It stays with him from family adventures to college, to meeting his love, and so much more,  It circles life and death, love and new beginnings.  This book is proof that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Stay tuned for Part 2, more picture books.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five 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 was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
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78 Responses to My Summer of Books – Part 1

  1. quiall says:

    I still remember my books as a child. Pyewacket by Rosemary Weir was my favourite. Aesop’s Fables, Han Christian Anderson, The Brothers Grimm . . . They were so important in my growth. They helped me to become the person I am today. It looks like the new generations are in good hands.

  2. Ritu says:

    Gorgeous books, they look!!

  3. beth says:

    isn’t this a wonderful way to spend a summer? thanks for the books, some of these are new to me )

  4. GP Cox says:

    There are so many children’s’ books in the stores, it’s nice to have someone giving reviews on which are best. With so many children at home these days instead of in school, what do you recommend for any fear they might be feeling due to the virus?

    • Jennie says:

      Children relate best to what I call ‘the indirect method’. The best books don’t typically address an issue directly. Instead they plant the seed. Make sense? For young children, books such as “Wemberly Worried” by Kevin Henkes. Actually, you question is excellent, and I think readers would benefit from a list of books along with my review and description. As soon as I finish this series of books (two more parts to go), I will do a blog post on Covid-worry books. Thank you for the suggestion, GP!

      • GP Cox says:

        I have received requests by people about telling children about death, so it only seemed logical that some parents would worry about all this talk on TV about the virus. I’ll certainly be hear to read you thoughts on the matter.

      • Jennie says:

        Oh, do I ever have a book about death!! “The Rough Patch” by Brian Lies. I have written a blog post on the book. I will include that and others in my post.

  5. Annika Perry says:

    Jennie, what a wonderful way to spend your summer … these all look so wonderful and inviting! 😀 Your love and enthusiasm for the books shine through your words! Happy Reading and have an amazing time sharing these with your students.

  6. Dan Antion says:

    These sound wonderful, Jennie. The brown bag and the bricks would be must reads for me.

  7. Darlene says:

    What a great selection of picture books! You seem to be a magnet for amazing books. I look forward to more reviews. xo

  8. Terrific Jennie and I will select some for the new series… lovely books thanks for sharing.. xx

  9. beetleypete says:

    A teriffic selection, Jennie. The Brown Bag book looks wonderful!
    Best wishes, Pete.

  10. Jennie, these sound wonderful. They’re a feast for the eyes too. The picture book looks gorgeous, and all the covers are too. So much lovely color and detail. Hugs on the wing.

  11. Carson Maitland - Smith says:

    Got any Wiggles books? 🟣🟡🔴🔵

  12. Reading to the kids is one of the things I really miss since retiring from teaching.

  13. These books all sounds so good, particularly the first one and the last one. The illustrations convey so much!

  14. Great share, Jennie! It’s wonderful to find some great new recommends by you. ❤ Sharing! xo

  15. That’s a great list to check out, and a wonderful way to spend your reading time this summer.

    I looked up the book One little bag. It’s going on my list of children’s books to get. It’s beautifully illustrated, and the story is tender and gave me a lump in my throat at the end. Loved it!

  16. Wonderful books, Jennie. So many creative people writing children’s books today.

  17. Opher says:

    That looks fun Jennie!

  18. sjhigbee says:

    What a lovely selection – I particularly love the book Billions of Bricks, Jennie!

  19. petespringerauthor says:

    As many children’s books as I’ve read over the years, I spent the majority of my time with upper grades. Many of these are new for me, Jennie. The one false assumption that many people make is that writing a picture book must be simple. Every word and picture must count.

    • Jennie says:

      There are upper grade books in that ‘big pile’ photo. I’ll get to them in Part 3. Every summer I read upper grade books. I finally have time to read, so that’s my choice, my pleasure. Pete, if you decide to do a read-aloud program at your library (whenever it reopens), I have some great upper grade suggestions for newer books you may have missed since you retired.

      Yes, every word counts in a picture book, and it’s very hard to write. I’m slowly working on mine. Best to you, Pete.

      • petespringerauthor says:

        I have not forgotten your suggestion, Jennie, about reading at the library. I think I may have mentioned that the children’s author festival committee that I’m a part of us has many different members. One is the librarian for the children’s section of the library, so I already have an in. (Now, if we can just get back to some semblance of normal.) Our library is only available to curbside pickup.

      • Jennie says:

        I do remember you told me about the committee and the children’s librarian, and your in. Apologies that I repeated myself, children’s books will do that to me.🙂 Our library is the same, only curbside pickup. Last week I scheduled my readings with the librarian – all on Zoom. Sigh!

  20. Love the cover art on “One Little Bag!”

  21. Elizabeth says:

    I had the pleasure of teaching some art students who went on to write and illustrate kid’s books and know how much talent is required. One favorite was Noah Z. Jones who did parodies of Sesame Street as an art student and has continued with his zany sense of humor. I will definitely be buying “Billions of Bricks” for Christmas for my husband who has salvaged nearly that many over the last 20 years.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you for telling me about Noah. You must have loved teaching art students. They are some of the greatest characters, and I mean that in the best of ways. Our daughter graduated from MICA, and we loved her art friends. Your husband will love “Billions of Bricks”. You will, too.

  22. My sons would have lovedBillions of Zvricks, Jennie

  23. Pingback: My Summer of Books – Part 1 | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

  24. frenchc1955 says:

    Hi Jennie, thank your for another wonderful post!

  25. frenchc1955 says:

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

  26. bamauthor says:

    All of these selections look like excellent choices. My son would have loved the brick counting book, a novel idea! Thanks for sharing these gems.

  27. Thank you for providing these great books. They are all looking very interesting. Michael

  28. L. Marie says:

    So glad to see WE DON’T EAT OUR CLASSMATES has a sequel. It is one of my favorite picture books ever.

  29. What a lovely selection! I’m looking forward to Part 2…

  30. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  31. Ishita Dhiman says:

    This is so great!! Books are love 🙂❤️

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