Sunday, February 5, 2012

Favorite Read Alouds & Literacy Resources!

Recently I was asked, "What are your favorite read alouds?"  Oh my goodness.  You seriously have no idea how many favorites I have.  I could seriously go on forever about all of the books I love in the world, but I will try to keep this concise.  Try is the key word, so don't get too mad at me if I start to babble, k?

First of all, there are certain authors that I am just crazy over: Mem Fox, Patricia Polacco, Cynthia Rylant, Eve Bunting, Chris Van Allsburg, and of course I love the word-play in Dr. Seuss.  I don't think you could go wrong with books from any of those authors, but let's face it.  Not all books are good for read alouds.  Some are better suited for more in-depth studies or independent reading.  

If my administration ever walked into my classroom and said, "You can only read 25 books outside of our core curriculum to your students this year", these books would make the list {in no particular order}.  By the way, I have a fairly large nonfiction library, and I swear to you that we work really hard on nonfiction features and I read quite a bit of nonfiction to the class too, but honestly these are my favorites.  I feel guilty.  Sorry for the fiction overload!

1.  Saturdays and Teacakes by Lester Laminack {This is one of my all time favorites.  It is beautifully written, and lends itself to teaching personal narratives and memoirs.  I love the repetition, the white space, the interesting way he writes dialogue without quotation marks, and I love the nostalgia.}

2. Emma Kate by Patricia Polacco {This book is fabulous for teaching synthesis.  It's all about a friendship between an elephant and a little girl.  It makes the kids wonder whether it's fantasy and they really are friends or if the elephant is an imaginary friend.  They change their thinking a few times, and in the end, they learn that the elephant has an imaginary child.  I always re-read it one more time once they make this realization!}

3. Fireflies by Julie Brinckloe {This book always tops my list for teaching inferring!  It's beautifully written, and it helps kids connect to their own prior knowledge!}

4.  The Great Fuzz Frenzy by Susan Stevens Crummel.  {Of course, I have a soft spot for golden retrievers, but beyond that, this is a fabulous book for teaching predicting!  It's also very easily tied into the bucket-filler/bucket-dipper concept.  I love Crummel's fun placement of the text!}

5.  The Memory String by Eve Bunting  {Beautiful story!  Great for making T-S connections!}

6. The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg  {Great story to teach inferring!  The kids have to pay close attention to the clues to infer that the stranger is Jack Frost.  This is probably better suited for upper-elementary, because it's a definitely not obvious, but that's why I love it!}

7. A Day's Work by Eve Bunting  {This is a great story about "the important things" like honesty.  It's a great story about a young boy's relationship with his grandfather. 

8. Owl Moon by Eve Bunting {I love this book!  I have taught just about everything from mental images to poetic devices to owl adaptations with it.  In fact, I have a pretty cross-curricular unit for sale in my TpT store that I used with my kiddos in my old school district.  It's so much fun!}

9. Charlotte's Web  by E.B. White  {Such an oldie, but a goodie.  I LOVE Charlotte's Web, because you can teach so much with it, if you break it into manageable chunks.  I especially love how it lends itself to teaching about imagery and sensory details during the barn scene.  I also totally LOVE the characters.  I mean, who doesn't love Charlotte and Wilbur?! Of course, this is another book I used to extensively teach with back in the day, and I also have a unit that accompanies it.}

10.  Love That Dog by Sharon Creech  {I always like to read this book to launch discussions about the writing process.  I also love it because it approaches poetry in a fresh way, and it exposes kids to the classics in a non-threatening way.  It's also great for the kids who say they don't like to write.}


12.  The BFG  by Roald Dahl {This is one I truly enjoy reading for the sake of reading it.  The kids LOVE the story... I think it's because of the whizzpopping.  Of course, it's Roald Dahl, so I have to soften a few things here and there, but this is the only book I have a consistent character voice for.  I have cultivated my BFG voice over the years, and the kids eat it up with a spoon!}

13.  The Lorax by Dr. Seuss  {I should be excited that they are making a movie about this book, because I LOVE IT, but I'm sad they are adding so much to a book that I think is absolutely perfect.  I love the rhythm, the lesson, the adorable Lorax, and I even sort-of have a soft-spot for the Once-ler.  This is a just-plain-magical book that teaches about environmental concerns in a kid-friendly way.  It's wonderful for making connections and starting an Earth Day discussion! The word "unless" carries so much weight...}

Okay, I'm going to have to take this another direction, because this is taking me FOREVER, and I am having a really difficult time narrowing it down.  :)  So, here's what I'll do.  I'm going to point you in a few different directions if you are interested in more.  First of all, feel free to check out my Donor's Choose link on the sidebar.  There aren't any active grants right now, but I was fortunate to have a few funded last year, and several of them were for books that I salivated over and love.  If you click on the links and scroll to the bottom of each page, you will see the book lists I picked out.

In addition, if you haven't read them, you need to read the following teacher books that address reading workshop.  Many of them make suggestions for books based on the reading strategies.  I could get carried away with this too!  These are my favorite reading resources at the moment.  If you're impatient, you can also find lists online, but I highly recommend taking a gander at these fabulous books.  They have totally sculpted and changed me as a teacher over the last few years.  You can find book lists HERE... and all over the web.

Lastly, there is a newly discovered web-page blowing up Pinterest, and it caught my attention today, because reading and writing workshops really get my blood pumping.  This website is a wonderful collection of anchor charts and student work samples.  I can't wait to see how it evolves over time.  A Literate Life is written by a K-5 Literacy Coach who obviously reads many of the same books I do and then works with her staff to implement the strategies and lessons.  I was literally going, "Oh my goodness!  I love Ralph Fletcher!  Love the map activity... why didn't I remember to do that this year?!  Ohhhhh... Georgia Heard! Oh, how I love heart maps!"  Some of it was new to me like the "reading identity" activity, and a lot of it was just a fresh take on a lot of the ideas I've read about, but it's SO COOL to see how other teachers implement everything, and her charts are all PERFECT and BEAUTIFUL!  Seriously, more than anything, I was really excited by the website, because her job is exactly what I want to be doing someday down the road.  I would LOVE to be able to walk in her shoes!  Anyway, hop on over to A Literate Life to see what I'm gushing about!  You will be amazed, I promise!

By the way, check out who I met this weekend at the Tri-State meet-up!  It was so much fun to meet everyone and talk to everybody! I will blog more about the meet-up later... I'm waiting for the lovely hostesses to post since I have some of their photos and didn't take a lot of my own.  :)  I don't want to be the Reality Steve of the blog world! You'll have to be patient... but let's just say... it was amazing!  There's so much talent out there!  I had so much fun meeting old bloggy friends and making new ones!

EDIT:  Now that more pictures have been added out there, I've added more pictures to the post.  :)  I stole three out of four from sweet Michelle! 


  1. I love Growing Readers and Reading With Meaning. They are such great resources.
    Forever in First

  2. Comprehension Connections is my new favorite!!

    Can I tell you that Lester Laminack CAME TO MY SCHOOL? He is hilarious. And wonderful. But I'm pretty sure you already knew that.

  3. Oh my goodness!!! I am so jealous!

  4. Fireflies and The Stranger are on my faves list for inferring too! It was so nice meeting you yesterday! :) Have a great week!

    Lisa :)
    Made In The Shade In Second Grade

  5. I wasn't kidding when I said we were on the same wave length! I LOVE many of your selections and will check out the rest. Reading with Meaning has a permanent spot on my bedside table! Already counting down until the next meetup!

    Queen of the First Grade Jungle

  6. LoVe, LOvE, loVE . . . Love That Dog! BEST. book. EvEr!!

    Oooo, and some new titles for me to check out. Thanks so much!

    Your meet-up sounds like SO much fun; I hope we'll have one near me one day!


  7. You mentioned lots of great books! I love Saturday's and Teacakes, too! Lester Laminack actually did an author visit to our school a few years ago! I also love his book "The Sunsets of Miss Olivia Wiggins". I get teared up every time, thinking about my great-grandmother!

  8. Love everything you posted! Love Lester! He has been to our school before, and I have had the pleasure of seeing him several times at the reading conference in Gatlinburg, TN. and he's my FB friend. Love him!!!

  9. Thanks for the wonderful book list. I'm always looking for new ideas. We're wrapping up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which means the BFG is next!!! I LOVE reading that one. I also have a BFG voice, but my favorite is when the Queen comes into play. I wear my tiara and rock the accent.

    ❤Jodi from...
    ★★The Clutter-Free Classroom★★
    Helping Teachers Get Organized

  10. Wow, what a turn out you guys had! Where did you end up meeting, it looks like somewhere pretty big?

    I loved Roald Dahl when I was a insanely loved him! What a fun read aloud, for sure. And I love the book "Reading with Meaning" too. I've had it for years and it was nearly worn out. :-)

  11. WOW! WHat an amazing turn out at the meet up! I'm so jealous!!! Wish I was there!

    ❤ Mor Zrihen from...
    A Teacher's Treasure
    Teaching Treasures Shop

  12. Thanks for the kind words, Amanda! I feel you on the too-many-favorites problem! :)

    A Literate Life