Ten Picture Books to Change Your Reading Life by Angie Moore
I would never have thought five or six years ago that picture books would become such an essential part of my reading life. But my life changed four years ago when I decided to go back to college to get my teaching degree. I love to read, but with all of the additional schoolwork I was doing, I couldn’t find the time. I also noticed that I had trouble staying focused for long periods of reading like I used to. But picture books have saved my reading life. I can sneak in a book every morning at breakfast, one or two in the evening between lesson planning and studying, and a whole pile on the weekends with my coffee.
With all of this picture book reading, I have found so many incredible books; fantasy, realistic, historical, silly, sad, hopeful, biographies, and so much more. Historical fiction books have taught me more about the history of our country and our world than any course in high school or college I have taken. I have learned about compassion, religion, and different cultures. These picture books have taught me about people, relationships, race, lifestyles, abilities, and the world right outside my door, and far beyond. Being able to read one book from start to finish in one sitting has also helped me to regain some control over my time and my ability to focus.
Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson and Frank Morrison was part of March Book Madness in 2019, it was a new book to me, and it was incredible! I had read many books about the civil rights era. Still, I was completely unfamiliar with the Children’s March until I read this book. The illustrations are stunning, and the story heartbreaking but so inspiring. It opened my eyes to the fact that there was more to the Civil Rights movement than I ever imagined.
Between Us and Abuela: A Family Story from the Border by Mitali Perkins and Sara Palacios is about a family that visits their grandmother for La Posada Sin Fronteras, “The Inn Without Borders.” She lives in Mexico, and they live in the US. On that one day a year, they can meet to celebrate the holiday, but sadly, with a fence between them. The children try to get their gifts through the fence but have to try something else instead. This book is beautiful and sweet, but also made me so sad, yet grateful to have my family so close.
Ho’onani: Hula Warrior by Heather Gale and Mika Song based on a true story of a gender-nonconforming Hawaiian who wants to perform and lead the hula troupe. Ho’onani: Hula Warrior is a fabulous story about being true to yourself, being brave, and not worrying about what others think. I loved learning about the tradition of hula and seeing Ho’onani’s determination.
Remembering Ethan by Lesléa Newman and Tracy Bishop a little girl whose brother has died. She wants to talk about him and how much she misses him, but her parents cannot seem to do it. She acts out and finally gets them to see that talking is healing. I have yet to read a book that deals with a sibling death in this way, and it is incredible.
A Fist for Joe Louis and Me by Trinka Hakes Noble and Nicole Tadgell is about two boys, one non-Jewish and black, the other a Jewish immigrant, who become friends because of their shared love of boxing and Joe Louis. Set during the Great Depression in Detroit, this book also touches on poverty and discrimination. It has beautiful illustrations, my favorite being the one with the two boys and their fathers, which ties in perfectly with the words.
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson is hands down one of the most stunning and breathtaking books I have read in the past year. The poetic words and gorgeous, striking illustrations weave a tale of black life throughout history. I could read it over and over and find new details each time I read it.
Under My Hijab by Hena Khan and Aaliya Jaleel is a sweet book about a little girl who sees all the ways the women in her life wear hijab. I learned about the meaning of hijab and its part in the Muslim religion. I love the positive message it shares about the uniqueness of each woman and girl, and how they celebrate their faith.
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell and Frané Lessac is one of the most beautiful books. It is the first book I have read that includes Cherokee words and alphabet and was written by a member of the Cherokee Nation. It embraces family, Cherokee culture, and what it truly means to be thankful and grateful.
The Day you Begin by Jacqueline Woodson and Raphael López helped me and my students understand that everyone can feel like left out, or like an outsider at times. But, by speaking up, they can help others not to feel so alone.
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales is a stunning tale about what it is like to move to a place where you do not know the language, feel unwelcome, and alone but also about how the power of books and a kind librarian can make all the difference.
Angie Moore is an avid children’s book reader, wife, and mom, currently interning in a 5th-grade classroom in Mason, Michigan while completing her teaching certification who fully believes that reading changes lives.