The August 10 for 10 Picture Book event has happened annually for several years now, and you can find more information at the hosts' sites: Cathy Mere at Reflect & Refine and Mandy Robek at Enjoy and Embrace Learning.
This year, I narrowed my focus a little, thinking specifically of picture books I will share in the first few weeks of school. All the books I selected are favorites for opening the door to conversation and establishing group norms for how we will function as a community in the coming school year. Some are tried and true, but others are (or will be) new. Take a look, and consider this an invitation to share with me other suggestions for community building pictures books, too!
Ten Picture Books for Building Classroom Community
(in no particular order)
1. Zero, Kathryn Otoshi
Among all the numbers, Zero struggles to find her place and feel value. When she and the other numbers start to work together, they uncover the value of using each others' strengths. (For that matter, I also like to use One, also by Otoshi.)
2. Bluebird, Bob Staake
Not only does this book lend itself as an introduction (or reintroduction) to wordless picture books, but it will let students bring the story and it's messages to life in their conversation.
3. Stone Soup, Marcia Brown
I'm always amazed how many students don't know this story when I share it. Yet, I love the conversations that emerge when the students voice opinions about why the villagers were hiding away what they had to offer and how the soup came together when they were not so selfish.
4. The Story of Fish and Snail, Deborah Freedman
Soft illustrations and a light story of friendship, highlighting conflict between friends and how it is handled.
5. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild, Peter Brown
Mr. Tiger has to deal with feeling stifled, and he challenges the expectation to conform. He opts for honoring his own style, his own "roar" if you will. Mr. Tiger encourages students to honor their wild side, their roar.
6. The Lion and the Mouse, Jerry Pinkney
Another wordless picture book and another choice from traditional literature, but this one tends to be more familiar for my students. It spurs conversations about judgments and everyone having something to offer.
7. Swimmy, Leo Lionni
Swimmy will be a new addition to my early in the year picture book read alouds, but this fable's attention to using teamwork, even when we are not all alike strikes and important reminder and fits with my "fish" theme.
8. Each Kindness, Jacqueline Woodson
Woodson's story will resonate with kids, whether they have felt bullied, been a bully, or witnessed bullying in action. The wise words of the teacher--to consider how their actions ripple outward--creates an image I hope will stay with students from the very start. Additionally, I want to encourage them to make changes/self-improvements for "today," and not put off "better" until tomorrow.
9. Peanut Butter and Jellyfish, Jarrett Krosoczka
The eponymous friends have a crabby neighbor, Crabby, who is not very kind. But when he needs help, the two put aside their reluctance and offer a second chance. Kids are quick to recognize the implication that two wrongs don't make a right, and we need to lend each other a hand, even when it might not be the first idea we think of.
10. Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great, Bob Shea
This book is a reminder, I think, that it's natural for most of us to feel a twinge of jealousy when we perceive others as better or more important than we are. Goat and Unicorn show that mutual admiration can happen and teamwork is even better.
And...as hard as it is to leave that list at TEN...those are books that will earn a spot in my first few weeks of community building!
What about you?