BLOGS  >  JULY 23, 2020

Picture Books to Get You Started with #ClassroomBookADay

BY JILLIAN HEISE


With many teachers across the country participating in the #classroombookaday challenge, I am often asked if there is “a list” of books to use to get started. My short answer is no. My longer answer is that I can’t tell you which 180 books will work for your classroom and school community. One of the most important parts of #classroombookaday and daily picture book read alouds is that you get a chance every day of the school year to be responsive to the needs of your classroom community. You can grow, respond, react, enhance and apply things the very next day through the choices you make in the books you choose to read aloud. I do also share many picture book recommendations in presentations, blogs and social media. And now, through this partnership with Follett, I’ll be able to share curated lists throughout the year on different topics or themes.

This particular list is a place to get started. Getting started with #classroombookaday can be intimidating (180 books!), but being able to just sit and share a picture book with a class of students creates a bond that builds community in a way nothing else I have tried in the classroom does. Picture books are not “baby books” and they are not an age designation - they are a form of book. A form that has value at any age and in any classroom. Pat Zietlow Miller recently tweeted “Picture books remind readers and listeners of their humanity. They make them realize universal truths and cosmic commonalities. They open minds and hearts. They make us better people.” This, to me, is what #classroombookaday is all about: the connection, the time to sit together and share story, the empathy that can be built and the engagement that happens all through picture books.

My starting point for picture book recommendations is those that have been popular with teachers and classes participating in #classroombookaday, books my students have connected with or books that I recommend for kicking things off. When starting with #classroombookaday, teachers will often ask for books that connect to standards or specific skills. However, I caution that the most important thing in starting this initiative is building the community first.
 

  • Setting the tone for this predictable part of the day.
  • Teaching the class how we engage with the story together.
  • How we respectfully listen to a story as a group.

Start with those procedural things that we go slower with at the start of the year so things run more smoothly later in the year. Until these habits are built, it will be more difficult to get kids to engage with the standards or lesson connections you might be going for in your book selection. 

So start with the joy. 

The work can come later. And don’t worry, if you have accountability concerns, be assured every time you read aloud a picture book for #classroombookaday you are hitting the theme and text evidence standards with the discussions you have with your group.

So start here. Start with some fun and build relationships with your kids, among the class and with the structure of sharing a picture book. There are serious ones, funny ones and thoughtful ones. All intentionally chosen to support teachers and librarians looking for a place to get started with the #classroombookaday challenge, to start building classroom community and engagement through daily picture book read alouds.


Jillian Heise is a Grade K-5 Library Media Teacher in southeastern Wisconsin. She previously taught Grades 7-8 ELA in the Milwaukee area for 11 years and is board certified. Jillian is a passionate advocate for student choice in reading and the power of shared stories through #classroombookaday picture book read-alouds. She brings her literacy expertise and knowledge of books to her role as Chair of the WSRA Children’s Literature Committee. You can find Jillian talking books and education at Heise Reads & Recommends and on Twitter at @heisereads.

Read all Jillian Heise #classroombookaday articles on Follett Community.

Watch webinar recording presented by Jillian Heise, Building Community: #classroombookaday Read Alouds.

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