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November 3, 2017

A Book a Day for Picture Book Month

By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    November is a great month for a lot of reasons (Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, turkeys, great holiday activities), but in 2011, a new reason to love November emerged. The wonderful author and fantastic person, Dianne de Las Casas, started putting all the pieces together for Picture Book Month. She gathered a great team that included the phenomenal Joyce Wan, author/illustrator of The Whale in My Swimming Pool. The illustrations are sweet and kind — that same style is evident in the Picture Book Month logo.

    There is a different Picture Book Month Champion for each day of the month. On his or her day, the champion has an essay posted on the site about why picture books are important. This is a great addition to any classroom meeting or calendar time! I was asked to participate this year, so be sure to check out my essay on November 4 (also my mom’s 70th birthday so HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!).

    To help support busy teachers, I created a list of books suitable for different grade levels to read in your classroom this month. Of course, the calendar idea is arbitrary — these are timeless books to share in class any day (or month) of the year. Without further ado, here is my list of wonderful picture books (all available from the November Book Club flyers) to help your class celebrate Picture Book Month:


    Wednesday, November 1Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman. I mean, come on, it’s about vegetables, which a lot of kids hate (including this 42-year-kid), in underwear. What is not to love?! This will kick your month off with just enough humor to make your kids demand, “What book are you reading tomorrow?” (Guided Reading Level G)

    Thursday, November 2 — How This Book Was Made by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex. If the author and illustrator aren’t enough of a draw then I will just mention that the book includes arm-wrestling tigers. You cannot ask more from a book! If you don’t know Barnett’s work, go find him (well not him actually because stalking is frowned upon, but find his books)! His talent is staggering and you too will be singing his praises. (Guided Reading Level L)

    Friday, November 3 — Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. This Geisel Award winner is one that I've mentioned several times throughout the years. This book serves as my teacher compass as I navigate through all of the assessments, testing, and demands placed on our kids. It serves to remind me to make sure plenty of attention is given to cultivate their imaginations. Yes, this book does that at the most basic level and that is its genius. (Guided Reading Level F)

    Monday, November 6 — The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright. Bright is the genius who brought the world Love Monster and I love Love Monster. I also love The Koala Who Could because the message isn’t pandering to the reader. The koala in question never makes a change on his own, but when life forces his hand, he realizes he could have made changes all along. So often, life forces our us to change and that is what I love about this book. (Guided Reading Level K)

    Tuesday, November 7 — There’s a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins. This book is pure picture book joy! I am a sucker for a great rhyming book and if you add in characters who are unlikely companions, then I am all in, and you should be too! (Guided Reading Level K)

    Wednesday, November 8 — How the Crayons Saved the Rainbow by Monica Sweeney and illustrated by Feronia Parker Thomas. After Michael Hall’s Frankencrayon and Red: A Crayon’s Story (both Guided Reading Level L) and Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers bestsellers The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home (both Guided Reading Level M) including this crayon book in Picture Book Month is a complete no-brainer. (Guided Reading Level L)

    Thursday, November 9
     — If You Give a Mouse a Brownie by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond is the newest in the bestselling, circular If You Give series. You can’t go wrong with this book because if a student knows the other If You Give books they will be thrilled with this latest one. If they don’t, you get to be the teacher to introduce them to the joy that these books bring. (Guided Reading Level J)

    Monday, November 13Once Upon a Time . . . Online by David Bedford and illustrated by Rosie Reeve. The lesson of online safety may have resonated with me because of the constant “digital footprint” conversations happening with my own 13-year-old, or because of a recent lesson on the subject in my kindergarten/first grade classroom. Either way, this book works! (Guided Reading Level M)

    Tuesday, November 14 — Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer. Basically, with a title like Grumpy Pants and an adorable penguin wearing a yellow raincoat, rain boots and hat, this book is must. Honestly, you can’t not have this book in your classroom! When you see it on your classroom library shelf, you will find yourself thinking about when you will find the time to share this book with your kids. Make that day today! (Guided Reading Level K)

    Wednesday, November 15
     — I am Peace by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. It’s the middle of the month. The countdown to Thanksgiving is on and the kids can smell freedom, but it’s still a week away. Today is the day to bring peace into your classroom, and with the amazing Reynolds' illustrations, peace will be delivered. Take a mental break and help your kids find their center before that amazing math lesson you have planned today! You’ve got this! (Guided Reading Level K)

    Thursday, November 16
     — Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border. Border is a creative genius. His series of books use real pictures of inanimate objects (like a cupcake, a hot dog, a carton of milk) that he has personified. All my students love these books because of those pictures. This year I brought a small inflatable pool into the classroom, added pillows and blankets, and dubbed it the "reading pool." No my kids beg to go to the reading station! I mention the pool here because Border's books are quite often shared between friends in the pool. They truly cannot get enough of his wonderful style of storytelling! (Guided Reading Level K)



    Friday, November 17
     — A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson and illustrated by David Roberts. There are a ton of books that make bears seem to be the perfect friend. Peter Brown’s Lucille Beatrice Bear from You Will Be My Friend, the criminal catching bears from David Biedrzycki’s Breaking News series, and of course Karma Wilson’s bear from Bear Snores On are just a few bears that I would love to meet and know in real life. With all these bears in the picture book universe, this title caught my eye and I am glad it did. Now, you will be glad that I introduced you to it! You’re welcome! (Guided Reading Level J)

    Monday, November 20
     — Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano and illustrated by Lee Harper. This book will get you in the mood for a Thanksgiving feast and for the turkey and cranberry sandwiches the rest of the holiday! Wait, is that just me? Oh well . . . I still love it. Anyway, this book will have your class in stitches as this turkey does not want to end up as the featured guest at the Thanksgiving table. (Guided Reading Level K)

    Tuesday, November 21 — Thankful by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Archie Preston. Preston’s illustrations brought me to this book and Spinelli’s text made me thankful I had committed to it. This is the perfect read-aloud to send your students home for a family holiday. (Guided Reading Level K)

    Monday, November 28 — We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio. Have you read Wonder? It’s a must-read that I have recommended for years. I am excited for the upcoming movie version (although I will go on record as saying that the movie version of Auggie is not what I pictured at all). I was genuinely excited when my copy of this book came in. I feel in love with it by the time I got to the line, “I know I can’t change the way I look. But maybe, just maybe . . . people can change the way they see." What a great read for the first day back from Thanksgiving. (Guided Reading Level N)

    Tuesday, November 29 — Stormy Night by Salina Yoon. My love for Yoon has been well documented through the years so it should it be no wonder that I think it’s important to include this jewel of book in my Picture Book Month list. Really, any Yoon title will serve as a great title for your read-aloud, but Stormy Night has all the feels wrapped up in a sweet story. (Guided Reading Level J)

    Wednesday, November 30 — Max the Brave by Ed Vere. Max is a character that your kids will love for years to come. And you and your students all will be so excited to find out that there are other Max titles. (Guided Reading Level H)

    So, there it is. A read-aloud for every school day of Picture Book Month. I hope you love each of these books as much as I do, and that celebrating Picture Book Month with your class inspires creativity and encourages a love of reading.

    Before I sign off, I want to mention that this post is dedicated to the founder of Picture Book Month, who very tragically and unexpected left this world last August. The world is little bit less joyous without her. Sharing this month with you is my small way of continuing de Las Casas’ legacy, and sharing the joy that she found in the world.

    Find me, dad2ella, on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

    November is a great month for a lot of reasons (Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, turkeys, great holiday activities), but in 2011, a new reason to love November emerged. The wonderful author and fantastic person, Dianne de Las Casas, started putting all the pieces together for Picture Book Month. She gathered a great team that included the phenomenal Joyce Wan, author/illustrator of The Whale in My Swimming Pool. The illustrations are sweet and kind — that same style is evident in the Picture Book Month logo.

    There is a different Picture Book Month Champion for each day of the month. On his or her day, the champion has an essay posted on the site about why picture books are important. This is a great addition to any classroom meeting or calendar time! I was asked to participate this year, so be sure to check out my essay on November 4 (also my mom’s 70th birthday so HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!).

    To help support busy teachers, I created a list of books suitable for different grade levels to read in your classroom this month. Of course, the calendar idea is arbitrary — these are timeless books to share in class any day (or month) of the year. Without further ado, here is my list of wonderful picture books (all available from the November Book Club flyers) to help your class celebrate Picture Book Month:


    Wednesday, November 1Vegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman. I mean, come on, it’s about vegetables, which a lot of kids hate (including this 42-year-kid), in underwear. What is not to love?! This will kick your month off with just enough humor to make your kids demand, “What book are you reading tomorrow?” (Guided Reading Level G)

    Thursday, November 2 — How This Book Was Made by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Adam Rex. If the author and illustrator aren’t enough of a draw then I will just mention that the book includes arm-wrestling tigers. You cannot ask more from a book! If you don’t know Barnett’s work, go find him (well not him actually because stalking is frowned upon, but find his books)! His talent is staggering and you too will be singing his praises. (Guided Reading Level L)

    Friday, November 3 — Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. This Geisel Award winner is one that I've mentioned several times throughout the years. This book serves as my teacher compass as I navigate through all of the assessments, testing, and demands placed on our kids. It serves to remind me to make sure plenty of attention is given to cultivate their imaginations. Yes, this book does that at the most basic level and that is its genius. (Guided Reading Level F)

    Monday, November 6 — The Koala Who Could by Rachel Bright. Bright is the genius who brought the world Love Monster and I love Love Monster. I also love The Koala Who Could because the message isn’t pandering to the reader. The koala in question never makes a change on his own, but when life forces his hand, he realizes he could have made changes all along. So often, life forces our us to change and that is what I love about this book. (Guided Reading Level K)

    Tuesday, November 7 — There’s a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins. This book is pure picture book joy! I am a sucker for a great rhyming book and if you add in characters who are unlikely companions, then I am all in, and you should be too! (Guided Reading Level K)

    Wednesday, November 8 — How the Crayons Saved the Rainbow by Monica Sweeney and illustrated by Feronia Parker Thomas. After Michael Hall’s Frankencrayon and Red: A Crayon’s Story (both Guided Reading Level L) and Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers bestsellers The Day the Crayons Quit and The Day the Crayons Came Home (both Guided Reading Level M) including this crayon book in Picture Book Month is a complete no-brainer. (Guided Reading Level L)

    Thursday, November 9
     — If You Give a Mouse a Brownie by Laura Numeroff and illustrated by Felicia Bond is the newest in the bestselling, circular If You Give series. You can’t go wrong with this book because if a student knows the other If You Give books they will be thrilled with this latest one. If they don’t, you get to be the teacher to introduce them to the joy that these books bring. (Guided Reading Level J)

    Monday, November 13Once Upon a Time . . . Online by David Bedford and illustrated by Rosie Reeve. The lesson of online safety may have resonated with me because of the constant “digital footprint” conversations happening with my own 13-year-old, or because of a recent lesson on the subject in my kindergarten/first grade classroom. Either way, this book works! (Guided Reading Level M)

    Tuesday, November 14 — Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer. Basically, with a title like Grumpy Pants and an adorable penguin wearing a yellow raincoat, rain boots and hat, this book is must. Honestly, you can’t not have this book in your classroom! When you see it on your classroom library shelf, you will find yourself thinking about when you will find the time to share this book with your kids. Make that day today! (Guided Reading Level K)

    Wednesday, November 15
     — I am Peace by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. It’s the middle of the month. The countdown to Thanksgiving is on and the kids can smell freedom, but it’s still a week away. Today is the day to bring peace into your classroom, and with the amazing Reynolds' illustrations, peace will be delivered. Take a mental break and help your kids find their center before that amazing math lesson you have planned today! You’ve got this! (Guided Reading Level K)

    Thursday, November 16
     — Peanut Butter & Cupcake by Terry Border. Border is a creative genius. His series of books use real pictures of inanimate objects (like a cupcake, a hot dog, a carton of milk) that he has personified. All my students love these books because of those pictures. This year I brought a small inflatable pool into the classroom, added pillows and blankets, and dubbed it the "reading pool." No my kids beg to go to the reading station! I mention the pool here because Border's books are quite often shared between friends in the pool. They truly cannot get enough of his wonderful style of storytelling! (Guided Reading Level K)



    Friday, November 17
     — A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson and illustrated by David Roberts. There are a ton of books that make bears seem to be the perfect friend. Peter Brown’s Lucille Beatrice Bear from You Will Be My Friend, the criminal catching bears from David Biedrzycki’s Breaking News series, and of course Karma Wilson’s bear from Bear Snores On are just a few bears that I would love to meet and know in real life. With all these bears in the picture book universe, this title caught my eye and I am glad it did. Now, you will be glad that I introduced you to it! You’re welcome! (Guided Reading Level J)

    Monday, November 20
     — Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano and illustrated by Lee Harper. This book will get you in the mood for a Thanksgiving feast and for the turkey and cranberry sandwiches the rest of the holiday! Wait, is that just me? Oh well . . . I still love it. Anyway, this book will have your class in stitches as this turkey does not want to end up as the featured guest at the Thanksgiving table. (Guided Reading Level K)

    Tuesday, November 21 — Thankful by Eileen Spinelli and illustrated by Archie Preston. Preston’s illustrations brought me to this book and Spinelli’s text made me thankful I had committed to it. This is the perfect read-aloud to send your students home for a family holiday. (Guided Reading Level K)

    Monday, November 28 — We’re All Wonders by R.J. Palacio. Have you read Wonder? It’s a must-read that I have recommended for years. I am excited for the upcoming movie version (although I will go on record as saying that the movie version of Auggie is not what I pictured at all). I was genuinely excited when my copy of this book came in. I feel in love with it by the time I got to the line, “I know I can’t change the way I look. But maybe, just maybe . . . people can change the way they see." What a great read for the first day back from Thanksgiving. (Guided Reading Level N)

    Tuesday, November 29 — Stormy Night by Salina Yoon. My love for Yoon has been well documented through the years so it should it be no wonder that I think it’s important to include this jewel of book in my Picture Book Month list. Really, any Yoon title will serve as a great title for your read-aloud, but Stormy Night has all the feels wrapped up in a sweet story. (Guided Reading Level J)

    Wednesday, November 30 — Max the Brave by Ed Vere. Max is a character that your kids will love for years to come. And you and your students all will be so excited to find out that there are other Max titles. (Guided Reading Level H)

    So, there it is. A read-aloud for every school day of Picture Book Month. I hope you love each of these books as much as I do, and that celebrating Picture Book Month with your class inspires creativity and encourages a love of reading.

    Before I sign off, I want to mention that this post is dedicated to the founder of Picture Book Month, who very tragically and unexpected left this world last August. The world is little bit less joyous without her. Sharing this month with you is my small way of continuing de Las Casas’ legacy, and sharing the joy that she found in the world.

    Find me, dad2ella, on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

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