Now I’m sure you are all thinking the same thing so let me answer your question. Yes, if my classroom was on fire the first thing I would do is make sure the kids were out the door safely. But then I would most likely go flying back into the classroom to grab these 10 books to save them from the flames!
Charlotte’s Web – I sigh just thinking about Fern sitting by the barn watching Wilbur blossom from a wriggly little piglet into a T double-E double-R double-R double-I double-F double-I double-C, C, C pig. This was the first book that gave me a little slap of reality that life does have an ending. Boy do I still weep openly every time Charlotte passes on and Wilbur grieves for the loss of his friend. I love this book for the pure innocence of Wilbur and the joy of true friendship between him and Charlotte.
Pete The Cat I Love My White Shoes - I was fortunate enough to have a wise colleague share this gem of a book at the beginning of the school year. After I shared this with my students for the first time I felt like a rock star because of their cheering and begging to hear it again and again! I love how Eric Litwin crafted a brilliant story that helps students learn many sight words and color words in a very fun way- through a catchy song! I seriously caught myself singing it for weeks after we first heard it. This is a GO TO book in my classroom if we have an extra couple minutes.
Strega Nona – Shhh – I have a secret love affair with pasta! My amazing mother found this book when I was very young and shared it with me. I remember snuggling up next her and being in awe of the idea of a magic pasta pot that would give me all the pasta in the world! Tomie dePaola is gifted in the talent of being able to weave a story that is full of wonder and warmth.
Panda Kindergarten – This is an adorable non-fiction book about the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda at the Wolong Nature Preserve. These pandas learn skills they will need in the wild to survive while in the care of the Nature Preserve. The pictures will seriously melt your heart and you can’t help but “awwwww” at them. My students clamor for this book, pour over the captions and text and talk about what the pandas do at “school” compared to what they do at school.
The Great Fuzz Frenzy – I love to use this book when we are in the early stages of discussing building mental images while reading. I cover the book with construction paper so the kids can’t see the giant tennis ball. In the story a dog drops the tennis ball down into the prairie dogs home. The prairie dogs pull the fuzz off the ball, play with it and end up arguing over it. All in all the prairie does figure out they need to share and get along. The amazing part is that the authors NEVER give away in the text that the fuzz is from a tennis ball. My kids love guessing what the fuzz is and I love seeing their creativity run wild. It’s always fun to reveal what the fuzz truly is!
Scaredy Squirrel Makes A Friend – I love a book that can make my students laugh hysterically but then really think at the same time. This is a great book to share the first few days of school to spur conversation about making new friends, but also a great book to revisit for various reading and writing mini-lessons. Author Melanie Watt has created a fabulous character that kids can relate to. This book is a hard one to find in my classroom because someone always has it in their reading basket!
Where Is The Green Sheep? This book is a fabulous book for early readers because of the volume of high frequency words embedded in the text, but also other words are heavily support through the colorful pictures. The kids love the repeating line “But where is the green sheep?” and join in quickly when reading it together. I had the great honor of hearing Mem Fox speak at the Dublin Literacy Conference and was filled with glee when she chose to read this to us. Her voice is fantastic! You can visit her website and hear her read several of her texts. My kids love to take her books to the computer and read along with her!
Mercy Watson – A pig that loves to eat butter toast and wants to drive a car?! Who doesn’t love that idea?! My kids and I roared through this story the first time I read it and each year my students fall in love with the funny pig named Mercy Watson and want to read more and more of her. Kate DiCamillo has done an amazing job of writing an early chapter book series with strong characters and interesting plots that keep kids coming back hungrily for the next book to see what hilarious antics Mercy gets into.
Tiger Can’t Sleep – This is a tale of a tiger in a closet that keeps a little boy awake by performing loud, comical shenanigans because he can’t seem to get to sleep. My students have great, big belly laughs with what the tiger gets into. S.J. Fore does a wonderful job of incorporating sound words into his story and it’s a great mentor text for our young authors who try their hand in using onomatopoeia (yes, I had to look up how to spell that word).
What Do You Do With A Tail Like This? – The first time I saw this book I was amazed at the fresh layout to a non-fiction book. I loved the idea of setting kids up to predict what animals’ noses, feet, and ears were on the pages and then revealing them with facts associated to the animal and body part. So innovative! It really opened me and my students up to trying different approaches to writing non-fiction books and I am so thankful for that.
As a proud member of the Nerdy Book Club it’s hard to imagine selecting only 10 books to “save from the flames” and I admit to changing this list several times. As of right now this is what I would grab on my trip back into the burning building but who knows how I will feel tomorrow. We Nerdy Book Club members have ever evolving feelings about books! What books would you grab from your classroom if it were on fire?
Mary Brothers is in her eleventh year of teaching and teaches first grade in Dublin, Ohio alongside other fabulous Nerdy Book Club members (whether they know they are in or not). She spends her days trying to convert students into Nerdy Book Clubbers themselves to hopefully help this club achieve global domination. You can tweet her at @MMBrothers.