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October 22, 2015 7 Read-Aloud Books That Celebrate Creativity By Alycia Zimmerman
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    Life is a continuous wild rumpus for some children — the ones with crazy imaginations who can make a game out of anything. (As when a pile of pencil shavings becomes a crash pad for eraser base jumpers — true story.) But unfettered creativity doesn’t come easily to all school-aged children, especially in our schools that focus on correct answers, time limits, and longer workdays at the expense of play and creation. One simple step we can take to let our students know that divergent thinking is important and brave and fun is to read books that encourage creativity. Here are seven of my favorites.

     

     

    I’m Bored by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

    I have so much fun reading this book that it’s no wonder that my students love it too. A synopsis won’t do this delightfully absurd book justice: a bored little girl and an even more bored potato. The bored girl sets out to prove that she’s so not boring to the very unimpressed and downright rude potato. Of course, along the way the girl demonstrates all the un-boring things she can do.

    This book is great for sparking conversations about the “I’m done, now what?” early finisher challenge, about creative uses for recess and free time, and to push kids to think about how resourceful and interesting they can be. After reading I'm Bored, the next time an older elementary kid declares that he’s bored, you can take a page from the book and ask, “Are you bored or are you boring?”

    As an added bonus, the illustrator has a great website all about the making of the book, her creative process, coloring pages and templates, and more. It’s perfect for young writers who want to learn about book making.

     

    Not a Box and Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis

    These books are simple enough for a pre-k audience and open-ended enough to use as an icebreaker activity for an adult professional development session. In Not a Box, a rabbit adamantly asserts that her box is definitely not a box. The opposing illustrations show the box transformed into a rocket/mountain/robot/elephant with simple red crayon-esque drawings over the black and white illustrations.

    Pair either of these books with Harold and the Purple Crayon for a lesson on text-to-text connections. Or host a Not-a-Box creativity celebration. Have each student bring in a box and give them time to transform it. Create a class book with photos of the students’ Not-a-Box creations, or let them display their creations while their classmates guess the identity of the new creations.

    This is NOT a box! It's Nate's Fort Monroe!

     

    Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty

    Iggy was born to build, and he explores using all sorts of silly materials. He exercises his engineering super-talent regularly until he meets his architecture-phobic second grade teacher. Of course, Miss Lila Greer can’t keep irrepressible Iggy down for long, and his gift for building eventually saves the day.

    There are many possible uses for this book in the classroom, beyond a jaunty, rhyming read-aloud. Use it to kick off an architecture study of famous buildings around the world or in your own city or town. Use it to inspire young artists to have an open mind about using found materials. Keep the book in your block center as a model for other young architects. This is also a fun read-aloud to start a professional development workshop about multiple intelligences.

    As an added creative bonus, you can download a playful, rhyming reader’s theater script for Iggy Peck, Architect from the author’s website. Not sure about how to manage reader’s theater in your classroom? Genia Connell makes it simple in her blog post "Reader's Theater for Fluency, Comprehension, and Engagement."

    Our very own Iggy builds a house using surprising materials.

     

    Journey by Aaron Becker

    This wordless picture book extends upon the “purple crayon” concept with a girl who goes on an elaborate adventure to a magical world. She ends up rescuing a bird that eventually leads her to make a new real-world friend. (Share this beautiful book trailer to tempt independent readers to give the book a try.)

    Wordless picture books are not just for pre-readers! This book forces the reader to narrate, so the reader essentially co-creates the story. Just as a reader creates mental illustrations when she visualizes a chapter book, conversely the reader creates the text when reading a wordless book. I love challenging older elementary students’ conception of reading with sophisticated wordless books.

     

    My Name Is Not Alexander and My Name is Not Isabella by Jennifer Fosberry

    In each book, Alexander and Isabella take on different personas throughout the day as they imagine alternate identities for themselves modeled on famous leaders, scientists, and more. The stories drive home the message that identity is only bounded by one’s own imagination.

    I particularly like that the adults in these books happily support the titular characters’ imaginary identities. The author includes mini-biographies of the famous men and women that Alexander and Isabella impersonate, so this is a good way to whet students’ appetites for more biographical information at the start of a biography unit. Students can also write their own “My Name Is Not . . . ” stories including information about the famous people they research.

     

    What are your favorite books about creativity? Share your picks in the comments section below, tweet me some titles, or post on my Facebook page.

    Life is a continuous wild rumpus for some children — the ones with crazy imaginations who can make a game out of anything. (As when a pile of pencil shavings becomes a crash pad for eraser base jumpers — true story.) But unfettered creativity doesn’t come easily to all school-aged children, especially in our schools that focus on correct answers, time limits, and longer workdays at the expense of play and creation. One simple step we can take to let our students know that divergent thinking is important and brave and fun is to read books that encourage creativity. Here are seven of my favorites.

     

     

    I’m Bored by Michael Ian Black, illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

    I have so much fun reading this book that it’s no wonder that my students love it too. A synopsis won’t do this delightfully absurd book justice: a bored little girl and an even more bored potato. The bored girl sets out to prove that she’s so not boring to the very unimpressed and downright rude potato. Of course, along the way the girl demonstrates all the un-boring things she can do.

    This book is great for sparking conversations about the “I’m done, now what?” early finisher challenge, about creative uses for recess and free time, and to push kids to think about how resourceful and interesting they can be. After reading I'm Bored, the next time an older elementary kid declares that he’s bored, you can take a page from the book and ask, “Are you bored or are you boring?”

    As an added bonus, the illustrator has a great website all about the making of the book, her creative process, coloring pages and templates, and more. It’s perfect for young writers who want to learn about book making.

     

    Not a Box and Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis

    These books are simple enough for a pre-k audience and open-ended enough to use as an icebreaker activity for an adult professional development session. In Not a Box, a rabbit adamantly asserts that her box is definitely not a box. The opposing illustrations show the box transformed into a rocket/mountain/robot/elephant with simple red crayon-esque drawings over the black and white illustrations.

    Pair either of these books with Harold and the Purple Crayon for a lesson on text-to-text connections. Or host a Not-a-Box creativity celebration. Have each student bring in a box and give them time to transform it. Create a class book with photos of the students’ Not-a-Box creations, or let them display their creations while their classmates guess the identity of the new creations.

    This is NOT a box! It's Nate's Fort Monroe!

     

    Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty

    Iggy was born to build, and he explores using all sorts of silly materials. He exercises his engineering super-talent regularly until he meets his architecture-phobic second grade teacher. Of course, Miss Lila Greer can’t keep irrepressible Iggy down for long, and his gift for building eventually saves the day.

    There are many possible uses for this book in the classroom, beyond a jaunty, rhyming read-aloud. Use it to kick off an architecture study of famous buildings around the world or in your own city or town. Use it to inspire young artists to have an open mind about using found materials. Keep the book in your block center as a model for other young architects. This is also a fun read-aloud to start a professional development workshop about multiple intelligences.

    As an added creative bonus, you can download a playful, rhyming reader’s theater script for Iggy Peck, Architect from the author’s website. Not sure about how to manage reader’s theater in your classroom? Genia Connell makes it simple in her blog post "Reader's Theater for Fluency, Comprehension, and Engagement."

    Our very own Iggy builds a house using surprising materials.

     

    Journey by Aaron Becker

    This wordless picture book extends upon the “purple crayon” concept with a girl who goes on an elaborate adventure to a magical world. She ends up rescuing a bird that eventually leads her to make a new real-world friend. (Share this beautiful book trailer to tempt independent readers to give the book a try.)

    Wordless picture books are not just for pre-readers! This book forces the reader to narrate, so the reader essentially co-creates the story. Just as a reader creates mental illustrations when she visualizes a chapter book, conversely the reader creates the text when reading a wordless book. I love challenging older elementary students’ conception of reading with sophisticated wordless books.

     

    My Name Is Not Alexander and My Name is Not Isabella by Jennifer Fosberry

    In each book, Alexander and Isabella take on different personas throughout the day as they imagine alternate identities for themselves modeled on famous leaders, scientists, and more. The stories drive home the message that identity is only bounded by one’s own imagination.

    I particularly like that the adults in these books happily support the titular characters’ imaginary identities. The author includes mini-biographies of the famous men and women that Alexander and Isabella impersonate, so this is a good way to whet students’ appetites for more biographical information at the start of a biography unit. Students can also write their own “My Name Is Not . . . ” stories including information about the famous people they research.

     

    What are your favorite books about creativity? Share your picks in the comments section below, tweet me some titles, or post on my Facebook page.

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