Publishing: Holt, Rhinehart and Winston, New York, 1972
Awards: 1973 Caldecott Honor
Description: Anansi the spider has six sons that are all good sons. They all have to come to his aid and rescue him when he gets into trouble, so when he finds a prize-a great globe of light-he is not sure which son should be rewarded. He gives it to the god of all things, Nyame, and when she sees them arguing over it, she puts it in the sky. It is still there-the moon. The illustrations are bold and geometric, almost tribal.
Programming: Have students point out Ghana on the map. Do a little bit of outside research about the Ashanti people and how they live before reading the story. Read other folktales, especially those that explain why something is the way it is, such as Why Mosquitos Buzz in People’s Ears. Compare and contrast the tales.
Publishing: Beach Lane Books, New York, 2009
Awards: Caldecott Honor
Description: Simple, choppy yet beautiful text accompanied by illustrations that switch between individuals and far-off perspectives that showcase large scenes. A series of small words and then “All the world’s…” For example: “Hive, bee, wings, hum/ Husk, cob, corn, yum!/Tomato blossom, fruit so red/ All the world’s a garden bed.” The last two sets focus on bringing people together: “All the world is everything/Everything is you and me,” and “Hope and peace and love and trust/All the world is all of us.”
Programming: Of course this would be wonderful for a poetry unit, but the last two sets of lines could be used for a lesson about diversity or about conservation: taking care of the “world” as in the people in it or the planet itself. Older students might be able to write their own short poems using the format.
Publishing: Simon and Schuster Books, New York, 1995
Awards: Caldecott Honor
Description: An orchestra slowly builds from a trombone solo to a duo with a trumpet to a trio with a french horn, etc…going through several instruments to reach ten, a chamber group. The illustrations are whimsical with very curvy lines, even the text curves. Each group of musicians has a slightly different colored background.
Programming: Perfect for a music class. Students might learn to recognize what each instrument sounds like, looks like, and is called. They might sort the instruments by family, and listen to some orchestra pieces.
Publishing: Greenwillow, New York, 1983
Awards: Caldecott Honor
Description: A countdown to bedtime, from 10 toes, 9 soft friends, 8 windowpanes, all the way down to one big girl all ready for bed. A big colored number dons each verso, with an illustration on the accompanying recto.
Programming: A book for nighttime, or nap time. Have students write about their night-time routines. Maybe have a show and tell with special bedtime objects: stuffed animals, blankets, etc. Or, good for a pajama day at school.
Publishing: Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2004
Description: Seeing animals in pictures often gives us a distorted picture of their size. Jenkins has cleverly brought illustrations of animals to the reader at their actual size, a concept I still have problems with. The largest and smallest animals were chosen.
Programming: This would be a great book to use when teaching students how to measure in the metric and imperial systems. They might use the book to measure the images or be given worksheets or printouts where they have to measure certain animals. They might be asked which animal is bigger, etc. Perhaps students could do their own “actual size” scavenger hunt outside to measure plants instead of animals: leaves, stems, trunks, etc.
Publishing: Beach Lane, New York, 2011
Description: A counting book of caterpillars and the plants they eat, as well as predators. Illustrations are in Ehlert’s typical bold style with cut paper and lots of white space. At the end there is a list of each type of caterpillar in order it appears in the book and butterfly it turns into.
Programming: Where do you start? simple lessons in counting, facts about caterpillars and butterflies, as well as information about plants and fruits. Classes might go somewhere to observe butterflies, review the stages that a caterpillar goes through, they might read Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar in conjunction, or do several activities. This one combines caterpillars and counting:
Note: This author/illustrator duo created one my favorite books of all time from childhood: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. 🙂
Publishing: Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2010.
Description: This adorable book shows all of the types and situations where kids have to be quiet, from waking up in the morning to falling asleep at night. Underwood has captured the feelings of being a kid with phrases such as “thinking of a good reason you were drawing on the wall quiet,” “Do iguanas bite? quiet.” and “last one to be picked up quiet.” The animals are slightly anthropomorphic but very cute. Some of the pages use every inch of the space, while others simply feature a character on a white background. Even the book feels sort of quiet.
Programming: Great to use before nap time-if that still exists-or possibly just during a time when students need to be quiet, such as independent reading, or story time. Students might play the quiet game, where you have to toss a ball in a circle and can’t make any noise, or heads up seven up.