I've said before that I love picture books. They are so seriously under rated by many who dismiss them as kids books. The first time I shared five of my favorites, I had lots of great feedback. I L-O-V-E that many of you were as enamored as I was! Today I'm sharing 5 more favorites. These books all have something very unique about them. Some of them I keep home, just for me. Others I've given as gifts and of course others get read aloud by me every year.
The first book is And Tango Makes Three. I first heard about this book on a morning talk show. Apparently, it was creating quite a controversy because it sorta-kinda deals with alternative lifestyles (well, as alternative as a couple of penguins can be). This is a true story about a pair of male chinstrap penguins in The Central Park Zoo who never mated with female penguins, but showed a desire to raise a chick. They tried to care for a rock and would huddle together, but of course they could not create a chick of their own. Zookeepers finally gave the pair an egg to care for and this book chronicles six years of their journey. It is truly amazing. What an incredible gift for same sex couples adopting a baby.
This next book requires some tissues. For real. Unfortunately, the situation represented in this work of fiction is all too real for many of our students. In this book, Tight Times, a boy and his parents are trying to make ends meet under some dire economic circumstances. Mom has gone back to work so the boy spends time with a babysitter that makes him really miss his time with mom. Like any young boy, he wants a dog more than anything and feels he is finally old enough, like his father promised. Well, things go from bad to worse when dad loses his job. Now the dog is totally out of the question. When his parents send him outside as they discuss their most recent bad news, the boy finds a kitten. You'll need your tissues right about here. What happens next is so real, so touching...so honest. It's hard to read this one aloud without getting teary eyed.
Now when you need to cheer up after reading Tight Times you can turn to Walter the Farting Dog. Poor Walter. He has a serious flatulence problem. (Guess he never heard of Beano). There are quite a few Walter books now, but this one is cute to share at the start of the year when you are talking about summer vacations. Walter is banned from the beach after his, um, gas attack blows over a beach umbrella! It's silly, kind of gross, and yes, some may say it's inappropriate. But after the giggling subsides it really could lead into a lesson about how to handle it when a little farty might sneak out in class or before a lesson on the digestive system. Hey, Everybody Poops was a best seller for a reason!
This next one is just perfection. In The Other Side, a black girl and a white girl watch each other longingly from either side of a fence they were both warned not to cross over. In their innocence, they can not understand why they can't just jump over that fence and play together. Finally, one spunky little girl decides that fences like that were made for sitting on together, not for separating friends. The end is hopeful, insightful and just plain beautiful.
This last one, Unlovable, also features a fence as a central element. But this time two pugs live on either side of the fence. One of the pugs, Alfred, suffers from low self esteem because of the cruel taunts of a mean kitty. Alfred introduces himself to a new dog on the other side of the fence, but he says that he is a Golden Retriever! He and Rex become fast friends and share many interests. Finally, Rex digs a hole under the fence and when he sees that Alfred is not a Golden Retriever...well, it's about as sweet as it can get! What a great lesson to introduce acceptance, self esteem, building friendships on common interests, and if you like Pugs, well forget it. You'll be hooked just from the cover!
Just writing about these books makes me want to rip through my teacher book stash and find other gems I may have not read in a while <--Which I will do if I ever get one.single.minute to myself during this pre-planning week!