Hooray for Books!

I received a nice comment recently from CanadianParent, and she asked if I have a list of favorite books to read to Preschoolers and Kindergartners.  Children and books are two of my very favorite things, so I gave it some consideration the last few days.  First I would like to show you an idea for how I organized my books.  When I was teaching I think I had more books than our school library.  Other teachers sometimes came to borrow them, and I wanted to be able to find books quickly and easily.   This is not how I organized my classroom library for the children to use, this was how I stored books in my cupboards.

I bought a large box of these cardstock pocket style file envelopes from an office supply store.

I started out using lighter weight folders but I found that these held up for years.  I bought the kind that could expand to 1 or 1 1/2 inches so lots of books could fit inside.

Then I used a sharpie marker to label the pockets.

I organized my books in 2 basic ways – by author and by subject or type of books.   My leveled books were usually always out in the room.  I had one cupboard containing books that were sorted by author, these folders were in alphabetical order.  In another cupboard I had books by themes like ocean, five senses and ecology; as well as genres such as alphabet books, fairy tales, math books, etc.  I put the folders containing thematic/holiday books in the order I usually used them during the school year.  The genre folders were on other shelves.  I also had some folders for books I used for writer’s workshop and reader’s workshop.  So many books!!   Sometimes I had so many books I needed two folders for the same author or subject.  Sometimes I had just too many books in a category, so I put the books on the shelf between two folders that were labeled.

Of course I had a bunch of books that I just couldn’t part with that didn’t fit easily into any of those categories, so I had another cupboard with dividers labeled A-Z and I filed those books either by title or by an important word in the title.

So … on to my favorite books!

How can you choose?  There are so many wonderful books available.  This list is by no means complete – I love hundreds of books, and there are new fantastic books published all the time.  But I hope maybe someone will find a new favorite among these titles that I loved sharing with Kindergartners.

My very favorite children’s author is Tomie de Paola.

Here are a few of my favorites!  The Art Lesson and Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs are true stories of Tomie’s childhood.  Bill and Peet is a fun adventure story about loyalty.  Now One Foot… is very touching about a special relationship between a child and grandparent.  Pancakes for breakfast is a wordless book that is great for looking at detail, predicting, and just enjoying the story.  Andy, That’s My Name is great when you are working on word families.  If you aren’t very familiar with Tomie de Paola’s great work you are in for a treat!  His illustrations are easily recognizable, and you might notice how many books written by other author’s he has illustrated too!

My next favorite author is Leo Lionni.  Both of these authors are featured in exhibits at the Eric Carle Picture Book Museum that I mentioned in an earlier post.

Little Blue and Little Yellow is a fun story to introduce color blending – I always followed up by finger painting with yellow and blue.   Six Crows, Tico and It’s Mine are great stories for acting out and retelling – and great object lessons in getting along.  Fish is Fish is full of color and imagination – I gave the children a fish tracer, and after they traced and cut out a fish they decorated it to look like a cow-fish or a house-fish or a police officer-fish.  Frederick teaches that everyone needs to contribute and help, Alexander the Wind Up Mouse learns that what you wish for isn’t always better than what you have.

Another author that I love is Kevin Henkes.   He addresses that beloved blanket so many children have in Owen.  He also deals with disappointments, taking risks, sibling rivalry and lots of other topics that young children identify with.

I loved these Pat Hutchins books too.  For Good Night Owl we made a construction paper owl, and wrote about the kind of things that kept the children from being able to fall asleep.  We made maps of the farm in Rosie’s Walk and retold the story with small paper hens and foxes.  This is another great story to act out, but you need to make or collect some props.  The Doorbell Rang is a great math story, and the Monster story is just fun.

Ezra Jack Keats is another great author.

The Snowy Day is fun to act out right at circle time, pretending to make a snowball and put it in your pocket, walking with your toes pointing in and pointing out … There is such great language to retell and enjoy.  When I made time to read it over and over the children started to use the vocabulary and talk about it when they were out on the playground in the snow.  We had a class pet show and the book fit right into our activity.  Peter’s Chair is great when a family is having a new baby.

Mercer Mayer was one of my own children’s favorite authors.  They absolutely loved this alphabet book:

He is also well known for Nightmare in My Closet – we had fun making up “nightmares” out of scrap paper and putting them into construction paper closets.  I love the Little Critter series, Pirate Soup is great to talk about problem solving!

I loved and used many of Don and Audrey Woods books too – here are some favorites:

We used the Napping House and King Bidgood in our Healthy Habits unit.  Check out how we remade Silly Sally in a previous post.

P.K. Hallinan is another author I always shared with the children.

He has written tons of books, I have a lot of them.  Heartprints is a great book for thinking about how you affect other people.  If you are familiar with Bucket Fillers, the theme is very similar.  His books promote great relationships, they are loving, warm and touching.

I really liked sharing song books with children, especially when they already knew the song.  I have lots of books for Raffi songs, here are a few others – there are lots and lots on the market.

My granddaughters are 19 months old now and they love Over in the Meadow, Eensy Weensy Spider and other books based on songs we sing.  Kindergartners could often “read” these independently!

Here are some other favorite books:

Go Dog Go is often one of the first books children can read by themselves.  Ian Faulkner tells great stories about the michievous Olivia.  The Important Book is great to emphasize descriptive language.  One Hungry Monster is just fun!

Robert Munsch has written lots of funny books, I wasn’t comfortable reading all of them at school, but Stephanie’s Ponytail is a great story about being unique and not following the crowd.  Lyle, Lyle, Are You My Mother and Katy Kangaroo are old classics that I always made sure to share with my class.

ABC of Monsters was another favorite of my children.  I have an extensive collection of alphabet books!  The Pigeon books were always favorites – I like using them to show expression and voice.  Leo the Late Bloomer is a great reminder of how every child blooms in his or her own time.  I loved all of Helme Heine’s books – the illustrations are warm and wonderful.

I also had lots of versions of fairy tales, but my favorite ones were those illustrated and retold my James Marshall.  (That reminds me of when the teacher next door was sharing a variety of different Red Ridinghood books and a little boy raised his hand and asked if they were going to read more about the virgin Red Ridinghood.  It took a few minutes to realize she needed to explain the word VERSION!)

We always acted out The Little Engine That Could, and referred to that when we needed to keep trying and not give up!  Elmer and Woolbur fit into zoo and farm themes and are great characters that you won’t want to miss.

As I said, this list could never be complete – but I just couldn’t leave out Pete the Cat!

I love the basic, repetitive text and the free song that is available online.  It also has a great message in a very simple story.

Here are these books and more in list form, including the authors!

Here is a printable copy:

Favorite book List

Happy Readng!

I always love to find new favorites, please add a comment and share books you love too!

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tim Senk
    May 06, 2012 @ 22:33:09

    You forgot Cars and Trucks and Things that Go by Richard Scarry!


  2. dbsenk
    May 06, 2012 @ 22:39:15

    I agree that Cars and Trucks is a book that should be in every home, especially if they have little boys – but all the detailed pictures, and searching for Goldbug, makes it more fun when someone is sitting on your lap.


  3. cindi
    May 07, 2012 @ 07:22:56

    thank you for this list. I, too, have a zillion children’s books. This is a great way to organize them. I think I have all that you have. I’m having trouble printing, however.


  4. canadianparentcoach
    May 08, 2012 @ 10:52:25

    Wow! This is so kind of you to share! I am going to print the list and head to the library to check them out. My little ones enjoy making their own books loosely based on the books we read. We just finished ones based on “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see?”. Hopefully one of these ones will cause inspiration! Thanks again. I know my program is getting better from reading your blog.


  5. canadianparentcoach
    May 14, 2012 @ 20:35:34

    It worked! I took the list to the library and found some amazing picture books. We are diving into some of the Eric Carle ones right now since his art ties in nicely with the program as well. Today we worked on our own version of “Polar bear, Polar bear, what can you hear?”. They will each have a great little book to take home.


    • dbsenk
      May 15, 2012 @ 08:02:22

      That is great! We are taking a trip to Connecticut very soon and I plan to visit the Eric Carle Picture book Museum again. Highly recommended if you get the chance to go!


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