“Best Books”: What Would Your Kids Choose?

Recently, I saw a tweet by Sue Dunlop about Pernille Ripp’s Best Books of 2019.

This post is full of some books that I’ve read, others that have yet to be released, and a lot that I’m eager to check out. I love storybooks, and I appreciate the diversity of Pernille‘s picks. Pernille’s post got me thinking about what our students would choose as their “best books of 2019,” and why.

Since we’re currently on holidays from school, I can’t ask them for their feedback, so I’m going to base this post on my observations and reflections thus far. When we return to school, favourite/memorable books could become a great topic of discussion.This is going to be an unconventional list post, as instead of writing a list, I’m going to start with the why. What might draw kids to these favourite books?

For our kindergarteners, there seems to be a collection of reasons behind “best books.”

Kids love books that they can read …

The Elephant and Piggie books with the short speech bubbles and big sight word component are often the longer books that our students can read first. Mo Willems writes so many great children’s books, and when given a chance, these are usually the texts that students seek out to read.  

They look for books that make them question …

We run a very play-based and inquiry-based classroom, and try to model and support this questioning with kids. I Want My Hat Back is a favourite book for inspiring questioning and theorizing, especially at the end. We even try to support more questioning and theorizing when discussing this book again with a small group of students. 

They love books that get them talking …

Our students adore Jory John and Pete Oswald’s books. Not only have we read The Bad Seed, The Good Egg, and The Cool Bean as a class, but children look to read them on their own. Even when the words are challenging, they use the pictures to talk about the books. Usually their reading of these texts include a combination of decoding words and retelling the story. Some of these books have started to rip because they’ve been read and re-read so many times.

They adore books that make them laugh or seem so very silly …

Often it’s how kids read books to each other that makes the difference. All of our students know that one child has voices for the Elephant and Piggie characters, and they love listening to him as he reads. 

And they really like books that relate to topics of bigger interest/inquiry. 

We have really seen that this year when looking at The Recess Queen (and the connection to bullying) as well as The Lorax (and the connection to the environment). Students have been retelling this second book for months now. It also connects well with Plastic Planet: a wonderful media text that explores the impact of plastic on the earth. Both at the end of last year and at Christmastime this year, we received some gifts connected to Plastic PlanetStudents could watch and talk about this online text every single day. 

Writing this post has got me thinking about how much we want our kids to want to read. We love that they’re searching out books and often spending additional time at the eating table reading and talking about books. (Yes, some get dirty and others have ripped, but they are well-loved, well-used, and have certainly inspired a love of reading. We’re okay with the mess component.) The texts featured in here are ones that even our youngest JK students can recognize by sight, and they will even ask for books such as, The Bad Seed. The title of this book — and other favourites — almost become their own examples of environmental print. We love that our kindergarteners are now talking and thinking about books. Repeated readings really help with this. Paula and I tend to read books and talk about them until we are beyond bored, but guess what?! The kids are not! They crave this repetition. The Lorax continues to be a favourite book, and we’ve read and talked about this one since September. 

My “best list” really isn’t about being the “best” or “not best” books. There are hundreds of amazing books left off of this short list, and lists like Pernille’s are far more comprehensive. But these “bests” are what have gotten our kids reading and loving books! They’ve brought our students joy and gotten them thinking and talking about topics beyond princesses and superheroes. Shouldn’t books build knowledge and joy?! What books have done this for your kids? We’re excited to slowly introduce some new texts to these favourites in the new year. Which books will you add to your classroom library and why? As someone, who’s spent much of this holiday reading, I can’t think of something I like talking about more than books!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *