The "favorite books" other teachers have shared with me are diverse and should offer many new opportunities to get students excited about literature. There are books that can be used to begin and end the school year, books to build classroom community, books to help discuss important themes, books to help students appreciate individual differences, and books students should just sit back, relax and enjoy. What makes these books "Must Haves" for your classroom? Powerful illustrations, descriptive language, rich vocabulary, and a favorable response from students are the top reasons cited for the favorite books shared.

The most common applications of these "Must Haves" are as springboards to writing. Some teachers suggest having multiple copies of "must have" books available for students to peruse either independently or for reading along while the teacher reads aloud. Other books provide opportunities for science and social study extension activities for days following the read aloud.

It is comforting to know that books such as Charlotte's Web by E.B. White, Ribsy by Beverly Cleary, and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle by Betty MacDonald are still "Must Haves" in classrooms today as they were favorite stories shared by my teachers some thirty years ago. Other favorites worth revisiting include My Great Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston, Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney, and Ira Sleeps Over by Bernard Waber, to name just a few. I look forward to reading a few new ideas by some of my favorite authors such as All the Places To Love by Patricia McLachlan and Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant.

As a teacher, I have this lofty goal that every child that enters my classroom for a year of learning leaves with a love of books that will last a lifetime. Sometimes it seems the simplest of activities makes the greatest impact upon students toward meeting this goal. Simple things like providing time for students to read to their classmates from books they've come to love, talking to students about the ways you use reading in everyday life, and showing students real-life applications of reading skills exemplified in the pages of favorite books. These incidental kinds of things don't require much time or energy, but make a lasting impression on students and should not be underestimated or forgotten in the hustle of the school day.

In Part 3 of this workshop, I will share how Student Read-Aloud evolved into a time for reading and discussing favorite books with classmates. I will illustrate how I use Post-it Notes to help students see how skills taught throughout the school day fit into the real world of words. Finally, I will offer some ideas for encouraging reading in and out of the classroom in order to help students become lifelong readers.