Ten Picture Books to Help Build Community by Dawn Little

Throughout the school year, I like to have “go-to” picture books that build community. As situations arise, it’s nice to have a set of texts I might use as a starting point in conversation about issues we may have in our classroom community. Additionally, I use some as anchor texts in my reading and writing workshop. These texts help me build a community of readers and writers through follow-up writing lessons. Some of my choices might be obvious for building community, but some are probably more obscure choices. Here, in no particular order, are ten picture books that I might use to help build community in the classroom.


Dotty by Erica S. Perl

Ida brings her imaginary friend, Dotty to school with her each day. When her friends begin to tease her, she finds an unexpected ally in a surprise ending.


One by Kathryn Otoshi

Blue is a quiet color. Red is a hothead who likes to pick on Blue. Yellow, Orange, Green, and Purple don’t like what they see, but what can they do? When no one speaks up, things get out of hand — until One comes along and shows all the colors how to stand up, stand together, and count.


Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival by Kirby Larson

Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival is the true story of Hurricane Katrina, friendship, and survival. . . of a dog and cat. Bobbie and Bob Cat are left behind when the hurricane hits. Never leaving each other’s sides, they overcome many obstacles, living on the streets of New Orleans for four months before being rescued. With a surprise twist, this is a true tale of the power of friendship.


Miss Smith’s Incredible Storybook by Michael Garland

Zack thinks 2nd grade is going to be just as boring as previous years, until Miss Smith walks into class with her special storybook. Miss Smith has a way of making stories come alive. When the class becomes overrun with storybook characters, what will happen?


First Day Jitters by Julie Dannenburg

A great book about feeling nervous on the first day of school. . . with a twist.


Previously by Allen Ahlberg

Previously by Allan Ahlberg is a neat little book I found at the library. The inside cover states, “Every story, every person, and every thing started somewhere. Find out what all of your favorite fairy tale characters were up to. . . PREVIOUSLY.”


Me I Am! by Jack Prelutsky

A Jack Prelutsky poem displayed in picture book form.

Press Here by Herve Tullet

Press the yellow button. Go on, press it! It will take you into an imaginary world full of whimsy and color. A fascinating concept book, Press Here takes the reader on a journey page by page.


How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath

Based on the #1 New York Times bestseller How Full Is Your Bucket?, the children’s version provides a concrete way for kids to understand how our words and actions affect other people.


Born to Read by Judy Sierra

In Born to Read Sam is born to be a reader, this he knows. Sam reads everything and for every reason imaginable.


Dawn Little is a Staff Development Teacher in Maryland.  She is a lifelong member of the Nerdy Book Club and doesn’t remember life before books.  Meeting her favorite author from childhood, Judy Blume, several years ago is the highlight of her reading life, so far.  Dawn is the author of Teaching Comprehension with Nonfiction Read Alouds and has presented for SoMIRAC, Literacy for All, and IRA. She loves that her children (ages 10 and 7) are now recommending books to her!  You can find her on Twitter (@linkstoliteracy) and online at www.linkstoliteracy.com, www.teachingwithpicturebooks.wordpress.com and www.literacytoolbox.com