July 2014 | Peace, Love, and First Grade

24 Back to School Picture Books

Happy Tuesday, Friends!

If you live in The South like me, your summer is quickly winding down.

I go back to work August 1st, and my kiddos come August 7th.
It's time to kick BTS into high gear!

This week's Book Talk is dedicated to Back to School!

Hope you enjoy! 

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
 Chrysanthemum thinks her name is the most wonderful name ever!
That is until the kids at school make fun of her. 
Find out how she learns to love her name again in this perfect book for Back to School!

Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller
 This book is the story of a silly rabbit who becomes anxious when the otters move to town. Wise old Owl teaches him how to be a good friend and neighbor. Hilarious!

Don't Squeal Unless it's a Big Deal by Jeanie Franz Ransom 
 Oh, tattling! What is it with kiddos and tattling?
The little piglets in this book learn what's important to share and what's tattling!
As a big fan of pigs, I love this book!

Also about Tattling:
A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue
by Julia Cook 

Julia Cook's books are wonderful!!

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
 A little boy's Dad helps him deal with the new kid on the block
 in this story about making new friends.

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
Sarah Jane is afraid to go to school on the first day.
She isn't like most school children, though.
Find out what happens to SJ in this book.

First Grade, Here I Come by Nancy Carlson
 Henry isn't sure he's ready for First Grade.
Find out how he does in this charming little book.
I love Henry and Nancy Carlson books.

First Grade Jitters by Robert Quackenbush
All summer long, Aidan has had "the jitters" about entering first grade. 
This book addresses the very real fears children have about starting school.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud
 The bucket filler books are great assets for any classroom. 
Bucket filling encourages kindness and appreciation. 
If you've never seen them, find one soon!
Bucket Filling from A to Z by Carol McCloud
How Full is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath

Howard B. Wigglebottom by Howard Binkow
 Howard B. Wigglebottom learns a lesson in each of these adorable stories.
He learns about manners, sportsmanship, and courage.
He also learns to listen.
Young kiddos love Howard!

I am Absolutely Too Small for School by Lauren Child
When Lola doesn't want to go to school, she gets help from her big brother Charlie.
This sweet series is about the funny relationship of a brother and sister.


I Don't Like to Read by Nancy Carlson
Nancy Carlson's Henry is back!
In this book, he likes everything about First Grade...except reading!

 When his teacher figures out why, he changes his mind!

I Like Me by Nancy Carlson
There is a plump and precious pig in this story! 
I love her! 
She is full of confidence and self-esteem!
Another fun book by Nancy Carlson!

Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler
 With the help of some of her students,
Mrs. ruler teaches her class about the Golden Rule in this fun story!

Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker by Christianne Jones
 Lacey Walker LOVES to talk!
In this book, Lacey learns the power of listening!

Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind by Judy Finchler
 Miss Malarkey is determined to find the perfect book for every student in her class.
Love Miss Malarkey!

Miss Mingo and the First Day of School by Jamie Harper
 Miss Mingo is one cool teacher!
In this cute book, her animal students share facts about themselves.
Fun for Back to School and learning about animals.

Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon
 Ralph has nothing to write about, or so he thinks. 
His classmates help him overcome his writing anxiety.
Good book to use with Writer's Workshop.

The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neil
Mean Jean was a bully at recess until she met her match.
My kiddos love this book!

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy
 Lucy is different than the other children and is often teased. 
Great book for celebrating differences!

Too Much Glue by Jason Lefebvre
Matty loves glue and always uses too much! 
A funny book for teaching children how to properly use glue!

The Way I Feel  by Janan Cain
 This book explores the range of emotions we all feel at different times.
Nice book for encouraging students to share feelings.

Also: The Way I Act by Steve Metzger

Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes
 Poor Wemberly worries about EVERYTHING!
The perfect book for anxious kiddos!

Kevin Henkes is a great author study!

You are Special by Max Lucado
I love Max Lucado's precious books.
In this sweet story, the Wemmicks judge one another with gold stars or gray dots.
Punchinello only gets gray dots, until one fine day...

More BTS Books!
Brand New Pencils, Brand New Books by Diane DeGroat   
Curious George's First Day of School by Margaret A. Rey
First Day, Hooray! by Nancy Poydar
First Grade Stinks by Mary Ann Rodman 
Froggy Goes to School by Jonathan London
The Juice Box Bully by Bob Sornson 
 Junie B Jones, First Grader at Last by Barbara Park
Kindergarten, Here I Come by DJ Steinberg
Kindergarten Rocks by Katie Davis
Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten by Joseph Slate 
The Night Before First Grade by Natasha Wing
Off to First Grade by Louise Borden
Planet Kindergarten by Sue Ganz-Schmitt

All the links here are Amazon affiliate links, but these books are available on other sites, as well.

26 Classics for Kids

It's Book Talk Tuesday, friends! 

Today, Book Talk is all about the Classics!

When I started putting this list together,
I had to decide where to draw the line as far as dates go.

I know there are many books like Olivia that are already classics,
but I went a little further back-almost 40 years.

All the books on this list were written before 1976.

Here you go! My list of classics I use with my kiddos!

Alexander hit the scene in 1972.
Poor Alexander!
He can't catch a break! You just have to feel for him!
He knew from the minute he woke, his day was going to be horrible!
This book is such a great lead-in to writing. 

There are several other books about Alexander written after 1976.

Are You My Mother? by PD Eastman
I wrote about this book last week, but it deserves another post.
Written in 1960, this is my hands-down absolute favorite childhood book!
The story of a tiny bird searching for his mother.
If this is not in your classroom, find a copy now.
Trust me on this one!
All of Eastman's books are winners!!

Bedtime for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoban
Frances, the badger first showed up in 1960.
You have to love Frances.
She sings! All the time!
She fusses with her baby sister and her best friend.
She runs away under the dining room table.
She's pure fun, and she makes me smile!

We read every Frances book in my classroom!
More books about Frances: Bread and Jam for Frances 1964,
A Baby Sister for Frances
1964, A Birthday for Frances 1969
Best Friends for Frances
, A Bargain for Frances 1970

Bill Martin, Jr. published Brown Bear in 1967, and today, it's stronger than ever.
Perfect book for color recognize and introducing rhyme and repetition.
Can't keep it on the shelf!

Caps for Sale  by Esphyr Slobodkina
Caps for Sale was written in 1938 and still makes children smile.
This is the story of a cap peddler who gets outwitted by some cute and clever monkeys.

 The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
You know the cat who came to town in 1957.
He brought those Things with him and made a mess of the house when Mom was out.
The fish in this book is one of my favorite characters. Full of personality!
Dr. Seuss belongs in every first grade classroom!

Corduroy by Don Freeman
Published in 1968, Corduroy is the story of a department store bear
waiting to be adopted by a child.
Kiddos love sweet Corduroy's adventures.
I Love all of Don Freeman's stories!
There are several other Corduroy books, as well.

Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
Originally published in 1936, Ferdinand is the story of a beloved bull from his days smelling flowers to his big day in the bullfight arena.
Precious book!

George and Martha by James Marshall
First seen in 1972, George and Martha are two plump and precious hippo friends
who have all sorts of adventures!
Great for showing children how to resolve differences. 

There are several books in this series.

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion
Harry came to town in 1956, a sweet and funny dog who hates having a bath.
When he gets so dirty his family doesn't recognize him,
Harry has to figure out a way to go back home!

More books about Harry:  Harry and the Lady Next Door 1960,
Harry by the Sea 1965, No Roses for Harry 1976

Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
Bemelmans published Madeline in 1939,
the story of a small girl at a boarding school who isn't frightened by much.
Little girls everywhere adore this character.  This girl included!

More Madeline: 
Madeline's Rescue
1953, Madeline and the Bad Hat 1957,

Madeline and the Gypsies 1959, Madeline in London 1961

Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Published in 1941, this adorable book shares the day in the life of a Mama duck and her ducklings. Precious!
Other classics by McCloskey: Blueberries for Sal 1948

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
Originally published in 1939, this is the much-loved story of Mike Mulligan
and his best friend, steam shovel Mary Ann.

Other classics by Burton: The Little House 1942,
Katy and the Big Snow
1943, and Maybelle the Cable Car 1952

Oh, Grover! Growing up, I had a stuffed Grover.
I loved that thing!!
This precious book, narrated by my fave, was published in 1971.
Yes, it is a Little Golden Book, and yes, it is a classic!
For anyone who ever loved Sesame Street or Henson's lovable Muppets,
this book is for you!
Kids adore it!

Other Classic Goldens:
The Poky Little Puppy 1942, Scruffy, the Tugboat 1946,
The Saggy Baggy Elephant
The Little Red Caboose 1953

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Keats published The Snowy Day in 1962.
May I just say how much I love Ezra Jack Keats??
If you are into author studies, pick him! Pick him!
This book tells the story (in beautiful pictures) of a "snowy day" in the life of a little boy.
I can't say enough about this book or Keats! 

More from Keats: Whistle for Willie 1964, Peter's Chair 1967, A Letter to Amy 1968,  Pet Show 1972

The Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack
Originally published in 1933, this story is about the adventures of a duck
who lives on a boat on the Yangtze river.
Don't let the "old" cover turn you off, this one is good!

Swimmy by Leo Lionni
Swimmy made his first appearance in 1963.
The story of a little black fish among a school of red fish. 

Swimmy teaches the other fish about teamwork and perseverance! Love, love, love Lionni's work! Read them all!

1969-Really? I honestly didn't realize this book was so old.
Evidently, my childhood teachers had not discovered it yet
because I don't remember hearing it in school.
  Obviously, this story of a caterpillar who eats too much is a must-have!

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Sendak published this book in 1963. 
My teachers knew this one!
In this story, a little boy named Max gets into mischief then goes
on an imaginary journey to meet The Wild Things.
Most of Sendak's books are classics! Don't miss them!

Other Classics you don't need to miss!

Anything by: 

Virginia Lee Burton
PD Eastman
Don Freeman
Ezra Jack Keats
Leo Lionni
Arnold Lobel 
Maurice Sendak
Dr. Seuss

The Giving Tree (1964) by Shel Silverstein
Harry and the Purple Crayon (1955) by Crockett Johnson
The Little Engine that Could (1930) by Watty Piper
Millions of Cats (1928) by Wanda Ga'g
Tikki Tikki Tembo (1968) by Arlene Mosel
The Velveteen Rabbit (1922) by Margery Bianco Williams
The Wump World (1970) by Bill Peet 

There are tons of classics out there, friends!
I'd love to hear about your favorites!

All the links here are Amazon affiliate links, but these books are available on other sites, as well.


Today's post MAY be controversial.

But, if you read to the end, you may want to give it a shot. 

 If paper and ink is a commodity in your school OR you just want to jazz things up, consider using your table tops as work spaces.

Just teach your normal lesson, but use the tables as work spaces.
That's it!

We write on our tables during "Table Time" every few weeks. 

Setting Expectations
Like everything, allowing students to write on the table requires setting
in place rules and expectations.

We have a long discussion about how writing on tables is ONLY
appropriate during a "Table Time" lesson. 
ONLY dry erase markers, ONLY during Table Time,
and ONLY when instructed to write.
Afterward, the kiddos wash the tables with shaving cream.
Our tables are nice and clean...and smell great, too!
Table Time Examples

1-The table top was perfect for teaching regrouping.

The kiddos could see the process as they manipulated the base ten blocks.
They were seriously engaged in this activity!
We had to do it every day that week!

2-Here we used Table Time to work on long "a" words. 

Students worked in groups to brainstorm and sort words by their spelling patterns.

Again, we had engaged firsties!

I realize some administrators may frown upon this idea. 

But honestly, if you explain to them how you are saving paper and ink,
AND teaching your kiddos the proper rules for using the tables,
you may be able to change their minds.

If you enjoyed this idea, please consider joining me on
 Facebook and Instagram 
for more tips and ideas.

23 Must-Have Books for New Readers

Happy Tuesday, Friends!
I'm back from Vegas, and my calendar says July 15. 

Hmm...Where is the summer going?

If you've taught first grade for any time at all, you know this:
The reading levels of your kiddos are ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE.

Well, today I've compiled a list of 21 favorites I use
with my kiddos who are getting ready to fly.  

Honestly, most of them are tried and true. 

If you have any to add, let me know in the comments.
I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish
It's the same Amelia Bedelia from your childhood.
The one who takes everything literally (just like first graders)
and just makes you laugh out loud.
Kids still love her! 

My. Absolute. favorite. from my childhood!
I think I read this book everyday!
The classic story of a little bird who falls from his nest and can't find his mama.
If P.D. Eastman's name is on the book, it's gold!
Other Eastman favorites: The Best Nest, Put Me in the Zoo, Go, Dog, Go, I could go on...

The Berenstain Bears' Beginning Readers by Stan and Jan Berenstain
I love the classic Berenstain Bears readers-
the vacation, the picnic, the honey hunt, and the bike ride!
You know these bears! Kids still love them!

I adore all Syd Hoff's books! 
They are easy to read and full of fun!
In this story, Danny spends his day with a dinosaur.
Other favorite Hoff books: Sammy the Seal, Chester, Stanley, Grizzwold, and on and on!

I listed Elephant and Piggie on my Favorite Animal books, but they belong here, as well. Kids (and you) can't help smiling at the antics of these two very different friends. 

Fancy Nancy Series by Jane O'Connor
It's the girl with the incredible vocabulary!
If you have girls in your classroom, you need these books!
Boys actually like them, too, because they are funny and have huge words!
Gotta love Nancy!

The Fire Cat by Esther Averill
 Classic "I Can Read" book.
The story of a cat who's adopted by a firehouse and gets his wish to do big things!
Boys, especially, love!

Fox on the Job Series by James Marshall
I love this silly series where Fox lives a life of adventure.
He gets a job, falls in love, gets outfoxed!
James Marshall wrote this series of funny tales. 

Frog and Toad Series  by Arnold Lobel
Frog and Toad are staples in a first grade classroom.
If you don't know them, please meet them soon.
Your kiddos will adore this darling pair of amphibians!
Love Arnold Lobel!

Green Eggs and Ham (and friends) by Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss beginning readers!
Even if you aren't a Seuss fan, kids are!

Henry and Mudge Series  by Cynthia Rylant
The adventures of a boy and his giant dog!
It's Cynthia Rylant. You can't go wrong!

Lego City Series by Various Authors
Kids love Legos!
With the popularity of the toys and now the movie, these books are hits all around!
This series of beginning readers is actually great for new readers!

Little Bear Series by Elsa Holmelund Minarik
The classic story of Little Bear and his family.
These books make you feel warm and fuzzy!
It doesn't hurt that they are illustrated by Maurice Sendak!

There are five precious books in this series.

Little Critter Series by Mercer Mayer
Most of us are familiar with Mayer's Little Critter.
Your littles will love the "I Can Read" series about the adorable critter and his family.

Minnie and Moo Series by Denys Cazet
What's cuter than a series about two cow friends
who have fun and take care of each other? Precious!

Morris and Boris Series by Bernard Wiseman
This adorable Bear and his not so smart Moose friend will make your kiddos smile.
You'll smile, too! 

Mr. Putter and Tabby Series by Cynthia Rylant
Mr. Putter is a sweet elderly man, and Tabby is his cat.
They live together in a little cottage and share adventures.

Another Cynthia Rylant. Brilliant!
Oliver and Amanda Pig Series by Jean Van Leeuwen
Oliver and Amanda Pig are brother and sister who like to hang out and have fun.
Kids love this sweet series.

Owl at Home (and friends) by Arnold Lobel
 Arnold Lobel is one of my favorite children's authors.
I love all of his books about sweet and funny animals.
This is one of them. 
Other favorites: Mouse Soup, Mouse Tales, Grasshopper on the Road, Uncle Elephant

Pete the Cat Readers  by James Dean
Pete the Cat now has an "I Can Read" beginning reader series.
Kids love Pete and his everyday adventures.
These don't stay on the shelf in my room.

Poppleton Series by Cynthia Rylant
Poppleton is a kind pig who lives in the country and visits his animal friends.
Another fun series by Cynthia Rylant. I'm a fan!

Splat the Cat Series by Rob Scotton
Just like Pete the Cat, Splat the Cat has his own "I Can Read" series, too.
Cute and fun, just like the original series.
Each of these books has a word family list in the front for content phonics.

Young Cam Jansen Series by David Adler
Cam Jansen is a young girl who has a photographic memory.
Her great memory helps her solve mysteries for her friends and family.
There is also a Cam Jansen chapter book series.

Have one amazing week!

All the links here are Amazon affiliate links, but these books are available on other sites, as well.


I took a few weeks off, but I'm back.
I'm actually on my way to Vegas right now. 

It's Book Talk Tuesday, friends!

I'm having the best time this summer reading children's books at my leisure.  
Proud Book Nerd!

This week I'm sharing 21 kid-pleasing ABC books with you.

At the beginning of the school year, I read one alphabet book each day. Love them!

 The links take you to Amazon where you can look inside the books. 

A, My Name is Alice by Alethea Kontis
My students love this book about a group of animals (and their spouses)
who sell something from every letter of the alphabet in a place from every letter of the alphabet! Perfect for a BTS writing activity.
Steven Kellogg's beautiful illustrations add to the fun in this book!

A Was Once an Apple Pie  by Edward Lear
Not sure if you can find a new copy of this book, but a used copy is still great!
Such a fun rhyming ABC book!

Alligators All Around by Maurice Sendak 
This book is all about a family of alligators!
Boy, are they busy!! Gotta love Sendak!

Alphabeep by Debora Pearson
This one is all about the roadway!
Each letter in this colorful book relate to cars, trucks, road signs, and more!
Lots of fun!

Alphabet Adventure by Audrey Wood
The first in a series of three.
The letters are ready for the first day of school when the lowercase "i" loses his dot.
So cute!!
Others in the series: Alphabet Mystery and Alphabet Rescue

The Alphabet Book by PD Eastman
 It's PD Eastman, how can you go wrong? It's precious!
Each page has the entire alphabet down the side, too.

Just as the title says, the alphabet gets all mixed up when Z decides to be first in line.
I also love The Mixed-up Alphabet by Steve Metzger, but it's hard to find a new copy.

Boys especially will love this alphabet book which uses words like crane and forklift. Love the font and simple pics in this book.

Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom by Bill Martin, Jr.
The classic story of the letters and the coconut tree!
A favorite for everyone!

Dr. Seuss's ABC  by Dr. Seuss
It's Dr. Seuss! The rhymes are there! The fun pics are there!
It's Dr. Seuss! It's wonderful!

E-Mergency by Tom Lichtenheld
This book is all about what happens when the letter "e" isn't used anymore!

I Stink! by Kate McMullan
After everyone goes to bed, the hungry garbage truck eats up trash from A to Z.

Miss Spider's ABC Book by David Kirk
Miss Spider's friends are throwing her a party, and all the insects are invited!
Just like all the Miss Spider books, this one is gorgeous!

On Market Street  by Arnold Lobel
Arnold Lobel is brilliant, and this book proves it!
Each letter in the alphabet is transformed into something else.
B is a man made of books. Love Lobel!!

A hit with the kiddos!
Q is for duck because a duck quacks!
So much fun!

Shiver Me Letters: A Pirate Alphabet by June Sobel
This adorable pirate crew is out to capture the entire alphabet.
Henry Cole illustrates this one. Love him!

This book reminds me of Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom.
It's bedtime, but these little letters have things to do before bed.
Precious rhyming book.

Superhero ABC by Bob McLeod
Oh, my goodness!
This book is ALWAYS in someone's book box.
You may as well go ahead and get two or three of this one.
Superhero U is upside-down and wears underwear on the outside.
Need I say more? 

The Vegetable Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta
Love Jerry Pallotta's alphabet books!
I use this one when learning about plants.
The pictures do such a great job of representing roots, stems, etc.
Fun to use with Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens.
Love this whole series.

Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham
Moose really wants to represent the letter M, and things get crazy when he doesn't get chosen. Kiddos love this funny book!

The Z was Zapped by Chris Van Allsburg
This one is a little weird to me, but the pictures are amazing! It's Allsburg, after all!

Have a great week!

All the links here are Amazon affiliate links, but these books are available on other sites, as well.