Read Aloud of the Day!

January 2020

An essential element in reading aloud is what you choose to read. Not everyone is familiar with children's literature, either classic or contemporary. These are read aloud titles which eliminates some books that are difficult to read aloud or, because of the subject matter, are best read silently to oneself.

For more book recommendations, check out Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook, 8th Edition, of which I revised and updated and including a Giant Treasury of Great Read-Aloud Books with a multitude of new selections. 

The Bell Rang

By JAMES E. RANSOME
Grades 2-4      January 31
Atheneum, Caitlyn Dlouhy Books   2019   40 pages

Every morning the bell rings, signaling to the slaves that it is time to go out to the fields. On Wednesday, a young girl’s brother, Ben, gives her a kiss on the cheek, hands her a pretty doll and whispers in her ear, “Good-bye.” By the next morning, it is clear that Ben and two others have escaped. What strength would it take for a young boy to leave his family to escape slavery? What would happen to the family members left behind? The Bell Rang by James Ransome received a 2020 Coretta Scott King Honor Award for illustration. The brief, powerful text is accompanied by stunning oil paintings that show the love, hardships, and hope experienced by those forced into slavery.

Stop! Bot!

By JAMES YANG
Grades Toddler-K         January 30
Penguin, Viking Books for Young Readers  2019  40 pages 

The 2020 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award goes to Stop! Bot! by James Yang. A little boy’s bot travels up and up and up. The doorman, as well as several others, do everything possible to grab the bot, but with no success. The surprise ending and what happens next will delight young readers.

Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You

Just Ask! by U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor received the 2020 Schneider Family Book Award. This award recognizes books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience. In this picture book with beautifully expressive illustrations by Rafael López, various children share their uniqueness and then pose a question such as “How do you use your voice?” or “Are you really good at something". There are many differently-abled kids that have exceptional abilities and strengths that are acknowledged and celebrated This award-winning book highlights that differences are wonderful.

By SONIA SOTOMAYOR    RAFAEL LOPEZ  ILLUS.

Grades K-4                    January 29
Philomel Books    2019    32 pages

Dancing Hands:  How Teresa Carreno Played Piano for President Lincoln

By  MARGARITA ENGLE     RAFAEL LOPEZ    ILLUS.
Grades 1-5                                                      January 28
Atheneum Books for Young Readers   2019   40 pages

Today’s Read Aloud of the Day is the 2020 Pura Belpré Award winner for illustration, Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln. Margarita Engle uses playful and spirited free verse to tell the story of Teresa Carreño who loved to let her hands dance across the keys of the piano. This musical instrument offered her the opportunity to share the joy she felt when playing. When her family was forced to flee the revolution in Venezuela, Teresa felt isolated but her music sustained her. When President Lincoln heard about Teresa, he asked her to play at the White House. Rafael López’s mixed-media illustrations are as vibrant and colorful as the music that Teresa created. This is a beautiful book to read aloud to children of all ages.

The Undefeated

By KWAME ALEXANDER    KADIR NELSON  ILLUS.
Grades 3 and up                                            January 27
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt        2019        40 pages

Congratulations to 2020 Caldecott Medal illustrator Kadir Nelson and 2020 Newbery Honor book author Kwame Alexander as the recipients of their respective awards announced this morning. The Undefeated, is a poetic love letter to black life in the United States. It illumines the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes, both past and present. Back matter offers historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more about the individuals featured in the poem and illustrations.

In a Jar

By DEBORAH MARCERO
Grades K-2       January 26
Putnam    2020    40 pages

Llewellyn is a collector. He loves gathering things such as buttercups, feathers, and heart-shaped stones, and putting them into jars. Llewellyn does this in order to remember all the wonderful things he has seen and done. When he meets Evelyn, another ardent collector, they begin to collect things that are hard to hold like colors of the sunset, the sound of the ocean, and the wind just before snow falls. Unfortunately, Evelyn’s family is moving away, but the two collectors devise a way to continue their friendship and share their new memories with each other. The illustrations are as charming as the text and will prompt conversation about how we hold onto our own memories of people, places, and things.

Just Like Me

By VANESSA BRANTLEY-NEWTON
Grades K-4                     January 25
Knopf    2020    32 pages

Just Like Me is book of empowerment for girls andfor boys. Each poem highlights the importance of self-confidence and self-esteem. Several poems are girl specific (Sundress Blues and Little Sister) but most could impart a feeling of self-worth for all readers. This book would also prompt some great writing. Vanessa Brantley-Newton’s mixed-media illustrations are captivating and colorful from the book cover, to the endpapers, to the interior art. Poetry shouldn’t be saved for April’s poetry month, but should be read aloud every day.

Vanderbeekers to the Rescue

By KARINA YAN GLASER
Grades 3-6                                           January 24

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt    2019    355 pages

The Vanderbeekers series has become one of my favorites for reading aloud. The Vanderbeekers are a large biracial family who live in an old brownstone on Harlem’s 141st street. They get along with their neighbors and have formed a supportive community with them. In this newest saga, Mrs. Vanderbeeker’s home baking business is shut down after an inspector cites several violations of city regulations. There are also animals being left on the Vanderbeerkers’ doorstep each day and the kids have no idea who is leaving them. What is heartwarming about these stories is that the Vanderbeeker children are always problem solving in an attempt to do something good for others—this time it’s their mother. There are enough twists and turns in the story to keep listeners engaged and wanting more—which is great because the next book in the Vanderbeekers series is set to be published in fall 2020.

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read

By RITA LORRAINE HUBBARD    OGE MORA  ILLUS.
Grades 1-4                                                 January 23
Schwartz & Wade    2020    40 pages 

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read by Rita Lorraine Hubbard illustrates that it’s never too old to learn. In 1848, Mary Walker was born into slavery, was freed when she was 15, and then married with her first child by age 20. Mary worked hard throughout her life and cared for her family which left no time for her to learn how to read the precious Bible given her years ago. At 114 years of age, Mary had outlived her entire family and lamented that she couldn’t read or write. When a reading class was held in her retirement home, she decided that now was the time. Mary worked hard on studying the alphabet and writing her name. Finally, at age 116, Mary could read! Oge Mora’s collage illustrations depict a strong, determined woman who persevered and achieved her goal. Don’t miss the beautiful book cover and the endpapers containing photographs

The Upper Case: Trouble in Capital City

By TARA LAZAR    ROSS MACDONALD  ILLUS.

Grades 1-4                                       January 22
Hyperion/Disney    2019    32 pages 

Humorous books that lend themselves to reading aloud contain laugh-out-loud stories and entertaining language. Both are true for The Upper Case: Trouble in Capital City. Much more than an alphabet book, this quirky caper contains puns, idioms, and witty wordplay. Private I is dozing in his chair when Question Mark alerts him that the upper case letters have disappeared from Capital City. Can Private I solve this perplexing mystery because it’s too late? Tara Lazar and Ross MacDonald’s previous whodunit, 7 Ate 9: The Untold Story, is equally filled with riotous good humor.

Dear Zoo

By ROD CAMPBELL                                             January 21

Grades Tod-K
Little Simon    1982/2019         

This classic lift-the-flap book has been a favorite with toddlers, preschoolers, and parents ever since it was first published in 1982. A hardcover version has been reissued and contains the same simple repetitive phrasing, “I sent him back” and delightful zoo animals beneath the flaps such as monkey, giraffe, and elephant. Terrific book for interactive read alouds.

A  Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation

By BARRY WITTENSTEIN    JERRY PINKNEY  ILLUS.

Grades 1-5                                               January 20

Holiday House    2019    48 pages

A Place to Land written by Barry Wittenstein tells of the night before the 1963 March on Washington as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sat down to write his speech. What resulted is the now famous, “I Have a Dream Speech”. The spectacular watercolor illustrations by Caldecott Medal winning artist, Jerry Pinkney, are complemented by collage that utilizes fabric, photographs, sketches, and documents to offer a sense of time and importance. This is one of the most stunning picture books of 2019 and perfect for reading aloud on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, or anytime

Fry Bread

By KEVIN NOBLE MAILLARD    JUANA MARTINEZ-NEAL  ILLUS.

Grades K-4                                                                        January 19

Roaring Book Press    2019    48 pages

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story has received numerous awards and recognitions over the past few months. Keven Noble Maillard uses lively and informative text to share all the different things that fry bread is and what it represents. “Fry bread is color / golden brown, tan or yellow / Deep like coffee, sienna, or earth / Light like snow and cream / Warm like rays of sun. Fry bread is also flavor, time, art, history, and so much more. Juana Martinez-Neal’s expressive illustrations depict a modern Native American family. This book works well as a read aloud on many levels—the evocative and lively text that can be shared with younger children and the author’s note at the conclusion of the book that will provide additional context and information for older readers.

Winnie the Pooh

By A.A. MILNE      A.G.SHEPHERD  ILLUS.           January 18 

Grades K-4
Dutton    1926/1988    176 pages

It’s National Winnie the Pooh Day so why not pick up this 1926 classic and read it aloud to children. Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends Piglet, Owl, Tigger, and Eeyore have been a part of our literary heritage for years. If you know the characters because of TV or movies, try reading this timeless story to gain greater understanding and appreciation of A.A. Milne’s unforgettable creation written for his son, Christopher Robin. Ernest H. Shepard’s accompanying illustrations give further personality to these memorable characters.

Finding Langston/Leaving Lymon

By LESA CLINE-RANSOME                         January 17

Grades 3-5

Holiday House    2018/2020    112/208 pages

The Read Aloud of the Day is Finding Langston. It’s 1946 and 11-year-old Langston’s beloved mother has passed away. His grief-stricken father decides they should leave their rural Alabama home to travel north to Chicago. Once there, Langston experiences being bullied at school by a boy named Lymon. When Langston discovers the public library, he discovers another Langston [Hughes] and the young boy realizes a connection in more ways than one. This fictional chapter book, great for reading aloud to students in grades 2-5, will provide an opportunity to share information about the influential poet. The companion novel by Lesa Cline-Ransome, Leaving Lymon, offers insight into the boy Langston feared who is dealing with his own family and personal issues. Both books are great for gaining a historical perspective and for generating discussion.

Izzy Gizmo and the Invention Convention

By PIP JONES    SARA OGILVIE  ILLUS.                            January 16

Grades K-3
Peachtree    2020    32 pages

So excited that a new Izzy Gizmo book will be published in March.In this newest story, Izzy has been invited to attend the Invention Convention on Technoff Isle. When Izzy, her bird Fixer, and Grandpa arrive, the budding inventors are challenged to make a machine to impress the Professor. When rival Abi von Lavish swoops up the items Izzy needs to create her robotic fashion designer, The Magnifi-Style, Izzy must come up with a new plan, and invention. Behold the Tool-Fix-Recycle-O-Matic! Unfortunately, Abi has also sapped all the power and Izzy’s thingummyjig goes on the blink. But with the support of her Grandpa and the ingenuity of Fixer, Izzy taps into other power sources. Izzy is a creative female protagonist who, at times, becomes frustrated but always perseveres.

Infinite Hope: A Black Artist's Journey from World War II to Peace

By ASHLEY BRYAN                                          January 15

Grades 5 and up 
Atheneum    2019    108 pages

I have been an ardent fan of illustrator and storyteller, Ashley Bryan, for decades. When I had the honor and privilege to meet him, I was overwhelmed by his graciousness and humility. Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace is a fascinating autobiography that depicts Bryan’s experience serving in WWII through archival photographs, letters, journal entries, and art. Bryan and his fellow black soldiers faced unspeakable discrimination in the segregated U.S. Army. What sustained him, however, was his art. Portions or the entire book could be read aloud to middle and high school students during language arts, history, and art classes. This is also an excellent book for adults in learning more about Bryan as well as his experiences during the war. I honestly couldn’t put it down.

King and Kayla & the Case of the Unhappy Neighbor

King and Kayla & the Case of the Missing Dog Treats

By DORI HILLESTAD BUTLER    NANCY MYERS  ILLUS.                          January 14

Grades 1-3

Peachtree    2020 and 2018

The newest in the King & Kayla early chapter book series by Dori Hillestad Butler follows the dog-and-human detective duo as they attempt to find who or what has knocked over the trash can and eaten the garden vegetables in Mr. Gary’s yard. King & Kayla and the Case of the Unhappy Neighbor is perfect for reading aloud and also for newly independent readers. The simple mystery stories incorporate problem-solving and critical thinking skills coupled with enjoyable characters and visual humor. Series books are great for motivating kids to read, especially when they find success in reading independently and want one more book just like the one they just read. Publication date for this newest King & Kayla is March, but other books in the series are currently available including the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award book, King & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats.

10 Little Rubber Ducks 

By ERIC CARLE                                       January 13

Grades PreK-1

HarperCollins    2005

Happy National Rubber Ducky Day! Eric Carle’s 10 Little Rubber Ducks was inspired by a 1992 incident when a shipment of 29,000 rubber bathtub toys, including ducks, fell overboard from a container ship. The rubber toys washed up on the shores of Alaska, floated their way through the Bering Strait, and drifted toward the northern coast of Greece. Carle provides a countdown of where he imagines these rubber ducks drifted to and the animals they encountered. The final page of the hardcover edition also includes a “Squeak” sound of one little rubber duck. The signature collage style of illustrations will capture listeners’ attention and have them counting along. Rubber Ducky, you’re the one!

Other Words for Home

By JASMINE WARGA                                                          January 12

Grades 5 and up

HarperCollins    2019    342 pages

One of the many values of stories is that they offer us a glimpse into the experiences and emotions of people who are both similar and different from us. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga is one of those books. Jude and her mother leave their beloved home in Syria to live with relatives in Cincinnati. The seventh grader is consumed with concern for her older brother, the absence of her friend Fatima, the struggle to learn English, and the search for identity. Written in verse, this middle grade novel presents listeners a perspective of what many refugees endure when coming to this country. It also offers an understanding that we are all essentially the same in wanting to feel like we belong, in our desire to seek happiness, and in our choice to adapt to life experiences we encounter.

Bruce's Big Storm

By RYAN T. HIGGINS

Grades PreK-2                                    January 11

Disney/Hyperion    2019    48 pages

Fans of Ryan T. Higgins’s Mother Bruce books will not be disappointed in the latest in the series, Bruce’s Big Storm. Grumpy bear, Bruce, has little tolerance for his neighbors. When Soggy Hollow’s weather becomes very wet and very windy, the animals converge on Bruce’s house to ride out the storm. Soon the whole neighborhood is crowded into the bear's house having a grand time. Until one last guest arrives-- a great big oak tree that essentially demolishes Bruce’s home. When the storm passes, the animals trek to their own home, only to return to repair and remodel Bruce’s abode. The hilarious text and illustrations will make this a new favorite book for reading aloud.

Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson

By JEN BRYANT    CANNADAY CHAPMAN   ILLUS. 

Grades 5 and up                                                              January 10

Abrams          2019    48 pages

Told in two acts, Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson, highlights aspects of this Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright from his mother encouraging him to read at an early age, to the prejudice his faced at school, to his motivation to continue his education by reading voraciously, and to his rise as a successful poet and playwright. Cannady Chapman’s expressive multi-media illustrations complement Jen Bryant’s poetic text in this picture book biography perfect for reading aloud to middle grade through high school students. The book includes an author’s note, a timeline of August Wilson’s life, a list of Wilson’s plays, and a bibliography

Mr. Popper's Penguins

By RICHARD ATWATER AND FLORENCE ATWATER

Grades 3-7      1992                                     January 9

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers    160 pages

It’s Positively Penguin's Day and what better classic to read aloud than Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Florence and Richard Atwater. This humorous chapter book tells about a house painter who reads about penguins and even writes to explorers at the South Pole. Unexpectedly, he receives a penguin in the mail from one of the explorers followed by 11 more. He soon turns his basement into an ice rink and spends quite a bit of money on fish and shrimp. I remember my second grade teacher reading aloud this book. While adults need to dismiss the concern about a house painter could afford these penguins, kids rarely question the idea but think it’s would be really cool to own a penguin. Don’t forget to read the back matter that shares the story about the book as well as photos of the Atwaters.

In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House

By LAURA PURDIE SALAS   ANGELA MATTESON  ILLUS.

Pre-school-3                                                       January 8

Wordsong    2019    32 pages

Poetry begs to be read aloud. I have been a fan of Laura Purdie Salas for many years because her poetry picture books are always unique and fun to read. In the Middle of the Night: Poems from a Wide-Awake House offers a variety of poetic forms including rhyming, free verse, acrostic, poems for two voices, concrete poems and more. Each depicts the antics of toys and other objects that come to life after a little 

girl falls asleep. Stuffed animals stage a late-night talent show, an overdue library book plays hide-and-seek, an aching basketball relaxes in a sink full of ice, and a fruit roll-up turns into a racetrack. Each poem is cleverly illustrated by Angela Matteson. This is a great book for prompting creative writing.

Snakes on a Train

By KATHRYN DENNIS                              January 7

Toddler-K
Feiwel & Friends    2019    32 pages

When reading aloud to toddlers and preschoolers, it’s great when they can join in on the fun. Snakes on a Train by Kathryn Dennis contains the repetitive phrase, “Hissssssssssssssss goes the sound of the train” that is perfect for interaction. The conductor takes the tickets as the snakes slither onto the train. Along the way, they encounter a pig on the track, a ride through a dark tunnel, a sense of flying as they travel down a steep hill, and finally an opportunity to curl up and sleep in their dens. The follow-up Snakes on the Job, published today, also has a repetitive phrase and follows the snakes as they use various construction vehicles to complete a special job.

Giant Squid

By CANDACE FLEMING   ERIC ROHMANN ILLUS.           January 6

Grade K-4

Roaring Brook    2016

Nonfiction is often not selected for reading aloud. However, some of the most interesting and beautifully illustrated books today are nonfiction. Giant Squid written by Candace Fleming uses lyrical language to share information about this elusive creature. Stunning illustrations by Eric Rohmann immediately capture listeners’ attention because of the dark colors and startling depiction of the squid. The double-page fold-out will elicit a few oohs and aahs. The book concludes with a drawing of the giant squid accompanied by additional facts.

Juana & Lucas

By JUANA MEDINA                                                                January 5

Grade K-3
Candlewick    2016    90 pages

Juana & Lucas by Juana Medina is a terrific illustrated chapter book for reading aloud to kindergarten through third graders. Juana lives in Bogatá, Colombia and loves to draw, eat Brussels sprouts and hang out with her best amigo, her dog Lucas. She also has a few dislikes such as wearing her itchy school uniform, solving math problems, and going to dance class. She really doesn’t like learning English but is motivated to do so when her grandfather tells her he has a fantástico trip that he has planned to Spaceland in the U.S. Kids will relate to this humorous story that is peppered with Spanish words and delightful illustrations. Juana & Lucas is based on Medina’s own childhood and was the recipient of the 2017 Pura Belpré Award. The sequel, Juana & Lucas: Big Problems continue the woes and joys of this young girl’s life.

Saturday

Grade K-3
By OGE MORA                                                                January 4  

Little, Brown 2019

Saturdays can be busy days, but they are also days that are highly anticipated by both children and adults. Oge Mora’s Saturday shares the story of Ava and her mother who cherish Saturday and the time they can spend together. On Saturdays, they zip to the library for storytime, get new hairdos, and picnic in the park. But this Saturday they would be riding across town for a one-night-only puppet show. Unfortunately, not everything goes according to plan. But Ava feels the day was special and splendid because she spent it with her mother. This beautifully illustrated picture book will definitely prompt discussion about favorite days and what makes them so. The book cover and endpapers are not to be missed!

The Perfect Seat

Grade Pre-School-2
By Minh Lê - Gus Gordon illus.                               January 3

Disney/Hyperion 2019

“Can you read to me?”
“Of course! But first we have to find The Perfect Seat.
What better book to #readaloudoftheday is a story about reading aloud by Minh Lê and illustrated by Gus Gordon. A parent and child seek out the perfect seat for sitting and reading aloud a book but everything seems too tall or too short, too thin or too wide, or too funky or too fancy. But finally they discover the perfect seat was with them all the time—the parent’s lap. Gordon’s watercolor illustrations are just perfect for this engaging story. Don’t forget to take a peek under the book jacket and explore the endpapers.

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! 

Grade Pre-school and up

By MO WILLEMS                                                                        January 2
Disney/Hyperion    2003

Author and illustrator, Mo Willems, creates picture books that are perfect for reading aloud. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is hilarious and interactive (what child can resist in responding, No! to the Pigeon’s plea to drive the bus). The illustrations are engaging beginning with the initial endpaper, the dialogue on the first page, the interesting format, and finally the concluding endpaper. There are several more “Pigeon” books that are just as fun to read aloud, numerous Pigeon videos on YouTube, and a new Pigeon musical. Also check out Willems’ website, pigeonpresents.com for teacher’s guides and activities.

Because of Winn-Dixie

Grades 1-5
By KATE DiCAMILLO                                                               January 1

Candlewick Press 2000    182 pages

Happy New Year! The first Read Aloud of the Day is chapter book, Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. I have read aloud this book to elementary school children as well as my undergraduate college students and it always prompts amazing discussions and connections. Who could resist a book about a girl, a dog, and a town full of quirky characters? The first line sets the tone: “My name is India Opal Buloni, and last summer my daddy, the preacher, sent me to the store for a box of macaroni-and-cheese, some white rice, and two tomatoes and I came back with a dog.” Opal and her new dog Winn-Dixie, meet various townspeople and slowly learn their stories of sadness, joy, and hope. Rich language and descriptive writing make this one of my very favorite books for reading aloud.

Trio of "Rollicking Read-Alouds"!

BY LAURA MURRAY, TRACEY HECHT, AND BRENDAN WENZEL

On Friday, Nov. 15, I am presenting a session on Rollicking Read Alouds at the American Association of School Librarians in Louisville, KY. I will be joined by Laura Murray, Tracey Hecht, and Brendan Wenzel. Laura has a picture book series of "Gingerbread Man" books that provide rhyming, rollicking fun. Tracey's "Nocturnals" books are good for middle-grade readers and reading aloud because of the interesting characters and lots of dialogue that engages listeners. And of course, Brendan Wenzel's picture books are artistically stunning. Not sure if A Stone Sat Still would be considered a "rollicking read aloud" but it is definitely a must for reading aloud and discussing with kids.

Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson

BY JEN BRYANT; CANNADAY CHAPMAN ILLUS.

Grades 1-4 

Abrams Books for Young Readers 2019    48 pages 

 

This week, my undergraduate children's literature class is exploring picture book biographies. I think some of the best biographies are published in this format. One author that does an amazing job in writing about the life of individuals is Jen Bryant. Whether the focus is on artists such as Georgia O'Keefe or Horace Pippin, word wizard Peter Mark Roget, or poet William Carlos Williams, each one is unique in how the information is presented. One week from today, Jen's newest book, Feed Your Mind: A Story of August Wilson, will be available. I can't wait to read this newest gem by Jen.

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks

BY JASON REYNOLDS 

Grades 5 and up 

Atheneum, 2019    194 pages

Jason Reynolds is a masterful storyteller and Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks doesn’t disappoint. Ten short stories, featuring characters in middle school, are cleverly woven together in both humorous and poignant ways. But all of them are sure to engage kids. Each chapter averages around 15 pages (perfect for reading aloud) and tackles a topic not far removed from experiences kids encounter in middle grades. And these topics will definitely prompt discussion starting with the first chapter on boogers and others focusing on bullying, parental illness, and homophobia. I haven’t had an opportunity to share this with kids but would love to hear about their reactions if you have some to share.

I Wonder

By KARI ANNE HOLT    KENARD PAK   ILLUS.
Grades Preschool-2
Random House Books for Young Readers    2019    40 pages                      

Questions such as, "I wonder if sandwiches get made when you bite them?" or "Do windmills ever get tired?" or "I wonder if books read us, too?" will certainly prompt other questions and motivate kids to conduct their own inquiry into the world around them. K.A. Holt's whimsical questions are accompanied by Kenard Pak's captivating illustrations in this engaging wonder-ful picture book.

Hands Up!

By BREANNA J. McDANIEL    SHANE W. EVANS  ILLUS.
Grades Preschool-3
Dial Books    2019    32 pages

I'm always on the lookout for books that lend themselves to interactive read alouds. Hands Up by Breanna J. McDaniel is perfect for preschool and kindergarten storytimes. Kids will quickly pick up on the repetitive phrase, “Hands Up” and will join in the fun.  Vibrant and colorful illustrations by Shane W. Evans make excellent use of lines to prompt raising hands up high.

Bear Came Along

By RICHARD T. MORRIS    LEUYEN PHAM  ILLUS.
Grades: Preschool-3
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers    2019    40 pages 

"Once there was a river that flowed night and day, but it didn't know it was a river until Bear Came Along". And soon more animals join bear and a grand adventure is had by all. Richard T. Morris's, Bear Came Along, contains a humorous storyline filled with expressive vocabulary such as curious, content, and excited. LeUyen Pham's illustrations are eye-catching and depict each character's emotions as they embark on an adventure that is literally filled with twists and turns. Be sure to remove the dust jacket, view the endpapers, and read the author and illustrator notes at the end.

Child of the Dream: A Memoir of 1963

BY SHARON ROBINSON

Grades 4-8 

Scholastic, 2019 234 pages

At the recent International Literacy Association Conference in New Orleans, I had the pleasure of hearing Sharon Robinson speak about her new book Child of the Dream: A Memoir of 1963. This is a compelling book in which she talks about her thirteen-year-old self and the impact of one of the most important years of the Civil Rights Movement. That year saw the Children’s March in 1963, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in which four young girls were killed. Photos of Sharon and her family (which of course includes baseball legend, Jackie Robinson) are included. Two picture books that could accompany the reading of this book include Let the Children March written by Monica Clark-Robinson and A Place to Land: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein with stunning illustrations by Jerry Pinkney.

If I Built a School

BY CHRIS VAN DUSEN

Grades K-3

Dial, 2019  32 pages

If I Built A School by Chris Van Dusen is perfect for reading aloud. Van Dusen uses rhyming couplets that flow easily and aren’t forced by including words just to create a rhyme. The illustrations have a unique and eye-catching retro look that is Van Dusen’s trademark style. Imaginations will soar with the thought of hover desks with bumpers, a robo-chef named Pete who mixes up tasty, and unique lunches, and a playground with a zip line and water for tubing. Teachers would love this school as well where a stylus can be used to write in the air, hologram guests both past and present can visit the classroom, and specialty buses can dive underwater and blast off the ground. This is the third in Van Dusen’s series which includes If I Built a Car (2005) and If I Built a House (2012). Kids will be motivated and excited to think about all the other things or places that could be built.

       

The Princess in Black Takes a Vacation

BY SHANNON HALE AND DEAN HALE; LEUYEN PHAM, ILLUS.

Grades K-3                                                  

Atheneum, 2017; e-book, audiobook  96 pages
 

This is book four in the popular Princess in Black series. Our heroine, Princess Magnolia, is exhausted. She has been battling monsters for the fourteenth time in one week. When the masked Goat Avenger suggests she take a vacation, the Princess decides to ride her bicycle to the seashore. When a sea monster begins terrorizing the beach, the Princess in Black knows she needs to spring into action. Dual storylines of Princess Magnolia and

the Goat Avenger keep the pace exciting. Illustrations by LeUyen Pham add to the fun. Other books in the series: The Princess in Black; The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party; The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde; The Princess in Black and the Mysterious Playdate; The Princess in Black and the Science Fair Scare; and The Princess in Black Takes a Holiday.

Dean Hale, Shannon Hale, Marie LeJeune, Cyndi Giorgis at the International Literacy Association Conference in New Orleans, October, 2019

Marie LeJeune and Cyndi Giorgis preparing for their presentation with Dean and Shannon Hale at ILA by dressing as Princess in Black. 
"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Smash!"

A Drop of Hope

BY KEITH CALABRESE

Grades 3–8                                                                                                             

Scholastic, 2019; e-book  320 pages

 

A well. A wish. And a little drop of hope. These three things are expertly woven together in this engaging and thought-provoking read-aloud. The town of Cliffs Donnelly is facing tough times and a few miracles would help its residents. Sixth grader Ernest Wilmette is small in stature, but large with optimism. His classmates, Ryan Hardy and Lizzy MacComber, are not quite as positive in their outlook given their family and personal challenges.  And then there’s bully Tommy Bricks who is feared by all.

At the center of the story is Thompkins Well where, legend has it, a miracle took place generations ago when a significant wish was granted. When Ernest and Ryan discover a hidden tunnel that leads to the bottom of the well, they also unwittingly hear the wishes of people—some whose voices they recognize and others that are unfamiliar. Ernest decides they should find a way to make the wishes come true despite Ryan’s skepticism. Couple Ernest’s genuine wish-granting intent with his task of cleaning his late grandfather’s attic and somehow wishes do come true. Told through various characters’ perspectives, this novel is storytelling at its finest. 

 

Related books: Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly; The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan; Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo; and Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech.

Dandy

 

BY AME DYCKMAN; CHARLES SANTOSO, ILLUS.

Grades Preschool-2 Little Brown, 2019 40 pages

Daddy takes pride in his perfect lawn. But then he spies a dandelion. Before he is able to get his clippers to remove it, his daughter, Sweetie, has claimed it and named it Charlotte. Every attempt to remove the weed is unsuccessful because Sweetie doesn’t stray far away from it. Finally, daddy has his chance when Sweetie leaves for swim lessons. As he makes his approach toward the dandelion, he spies a picture Sweetie has drawn of Charlotte and daddy. Unfortunately, his clippers drop and damage Charlotte. The illustrations on the next few pages are hilarious as daddy and his neighbros try to revive the damaged dandelion. If you are looking for a charming book about fathers and daughers, this one will do the trick. Related books: Dad By My Side by Soosh; and My Dad Thinks He’s Funny by Katrina Germein.