Top Ten Picture Books According to Fourth Graders by Kim Haines
For the past two school years, I have embarked on the #classroombookaday challenge. Each and every day of the school year, my fourth grade class reads a picture book, sometimes two, and we end the year having read 180 titles together as a community. I engage in this daily practice for many reasons.
- Provide mentor texts for writing and reading lessons
- Integrate across the curriculum
- Support Mock Caldecott book study
- Explore authors
- Showcase diverse groups
- Address social-emotional needs
- Connect with current or seasonal events
- Build a community
- Pure fun
During our final week of school this spring, I asked the fourth graders which books were their favorites. Their own personal top ten. They sat outside in the hallway, clipboards and pencils in hand, contemplating all the books we read together. They discussed the books with each other. They wondered, “Which book did we read where …. happened?” “But how can I possibly choose JUST ten books?!” And they created their lists. From twenty students, we compiled a total of more than 60 titles that made it onto someone’s top ten list. What follows are reviews by my students of the ten titles that received the most votes.
Titan and the Wild Boars
written by Susan Hood and Pathana Sornhiran and illustrated by Dow Phumiruk
comments by K.C. and T.R.
Titan and the Wild Boars was about a soccer team that went into a cave. But it started to rain hard. The cave flooded. They stayed on a high rock for a few days with only water, no food. Meanwhile a team was gathering to find a way in. Finally two divers found them! They promised to come back. They came back with high protein gel. But the problem was getting the boys out. The divers came up with putting the boys to sleep and the divers would carry them back. They succeeded! This shows kindness and cooperation. And this happened in the summer of 2018!
written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Matt Davies
comments by D.L. and M.T.
The book Nerdy Birdy is about a bird who wants to be cool. Then he meets the nerdy birdies and finds a group. Then a new bird comes who is not a nerdy birdy. So Nerdy Birdy left because they wouldn’t let the new bird be in the group. She wasn’t nerdy, she didn’t have a light saber or glasses. So Nerdy Birdy played with the other birdy. It was good and funny.
written by Minh Lê and illustrated by Dan Santat
comments by E.K. and J.S.
It was about a grandson and grandpa who at first couldn’t understand each other. But through drawing, they found out more about each other than talking could. They became closer and they became friends. It was a good book for us.
The Day the Crayons Came Home
written by Drew Daywalt and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
comments by S.L. and A.G.
This is a great book filled with wonderful surprises. It’s about a kid who leaves his crayons in places. The crayons send letters to him complaining. The boy goes to find the crayons and makes it up to them.
written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown
comments by A.H. and Z.S.
What we liked about the book is when he would go back and forth to eat carrots. It is a very, very funny and mysterious book. The book was not how we expected it – we thought it would have shape-shifting carrots. We are glad that we read Creepy Carrots!
That Is NOT a Good Idea!
written and illustrated by Mo Willems
comments by L.B. and A.R.
We liked That Is NOT a Good Idea! because it represents the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” This is because in a fight, a small animal outsmarts a big animal that is really good at fighting. The book makes you assume things because of the way a character looks. It was cool that at the end there was a big plot twist. We recommend this book for people who like plot twists and have a good sense of humor.
Thank You, Mr. Falker
written and illustrated by Patricia Polacco
comments by C.D. and L.R.
Thank You, Mr. Falker was a great book because it was both happy and sad. It told us about a girl who does not know how to read until she is in fifth grade. How she learns is by writing letters on the chalkboard with a sponge (and other strategies). It is a really good book because the girl’s teacher helps her. It might make you cry.
Creepy Pair of Underwear!
written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown
comments by J.C. and P.S.
We liked Creepy Pair of Underwear! because the underwear glowed. This is a good book for fourth graders to read because it’s silly and fun. The book was funny because the underwear had a face. It was a great book to read near Halloween.
illustrated by Aaron Becker
comments by R.T. and M.R.
What we liked about this book was that the main character could draw something in midair and it came to life. We think that would come in handy a lot. There’s a cool part where the main character gets chased by castle guards. Journey is a great wordless picture book, and we’d recommend it to other kids.
7 Ate 9
written by Tara Lazar and illustrated by Ross MacDonald
comments by B.M. and C.L.
We liked this book because it was really funny. It seemed like there were a million number puns in it. It was also mysterious. That is why we like 7 Ate 9, and we highly recommend it to you.
Will I read the exact same 180 books again next year? Probably not. But these ten are sure to make the cut with the high kid-appeal that they demonstrated with my students.
Kim Haines teaches fourth grade at Dawson School in Lafayette, CO where she’s a fierce advocate for student voice and choice and strives to instill a lifelong love of reading. Ask her for a book suggestion, and you’re likely to get a multitude of ideas. She blogs about teaching at https://passionateteacherblog.wordpress.com/, and you can find her on Twitter at @KimHaines10.