Happy Picture Book Month!
It’s Picture Book Month! According to the official website, “Picture Book Month is an international literacy initiative that celebrates the print picture book during the month of November.” If you think picture books are only for toddlers and preschoolers, think again! Picture books should not be tossed aside once a child starts reading; many have vocabulary that is far more sophisticated than your average beginning reader or chapter book. Children’s auditory comprehension is often more advanced than their print comprehension in the early years of school, so using picture books is a great way to expand their vocabulary. Not only are picture books for elementary school students great for vocabulary building, but they are also great for expanding awareness of the community and world around them. Quite a few of my favorites have humor that is incomprehensible to the toddler and preschool crowd. If you need suggestions for great picture books for K-3 students, here are my favorites:
If you ate nothing but chicken feed day after day, you would probably hunt for something to spice up your meals. That’s exactly what the chickens in Chicks and Salsa do when they get a craving for southwestern cooking. Unfortunately, the day of their fiesta looms with disaster! Will the chickens ever get to enjoy something with some flavor? The companion book, Buffalo Wings, is equally hilarious.
When I am asked to read picture books to elementary school students, I often include folktales in the stack of books that I bring. Folktales involve wild adventures, but they also impart values that are universal across many cultures. It Could Always be Worse, based on a Yiddish folktale, tells the tale of a man desperate for some peace and quiet in his crowded home. When he goes to his rabbi for advice, his rabbi tells him to invite a host of animals into his home. How will this alleviate the situation? This is a funny but wise tale about appreciating your surroundings and the gifts that you have been given.
Imagine having to build your own school from mud. That’s exactly what the teacher and children must do on the first day of school. Once the school is built, the children are eager to learn their lessons. Based on author-illustrator James Rumford’s experience in Chad, Rain School is a remarkable look at the difficulties and challenges schoolchildren face in an African country (but related in a very positive manner).
The Rumor: A Jakata Tale From India is another of my all-time favorite folktales. A nervous hare is convinced that the world is ending. He warns the other animals in the forest, which causes an increasing fury. When the lion demands to know how the rumor got started, everyone learns a lesson in not jumping to conclusions.
What! Cried Granny is a rambunctious bedtime story about a young boy spending the night at his Granny’s house for the first time. When Patrick informs Granny that he has no bed, blanket, etc, she fixes the situation….in very elaborate and time-consuming ways! The ending is a great surprise.
Happy Picture Book Month!
∼ Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library
Looking for more program highlights and staff suggestions for children and young adult readers published prior to January 2015? Check out Kiddosphere!