By Guest Author Andrea Elston
There is nothing more precious than the treasure of a good book! As a parent educator, you understand how important it is to develop a love for reading in your children but finding the right pieces of literature to foster that love can be extremely overwhelming, especially when it comes to children’s literature and the sheer volume of titles to choose from! Throughout my years as a Christian elementary teacher, I have done my fair share of searching for those “perfect” books, so I thought I’d save you some time and share some of my favorites that were staples on my classroom bookshelf. They are listed in the order I used them, from the beginning of the school year to the end, but please enjoy them whenever they work best for you!
Apples to Oregon, by Deborah Hopkinson, and How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, by Marjorie Priceman, were my favorites for September! Both stories have great imagery and voice, and if your curriculum includes westward expansion or geography, these are must-reads!
Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White, is a classic for a reason. I always read it in October because it was a nice follow-up to the friendship unit I taught in September and a perfect companion to the spider unit I started in the fall.
Thank You Sarah, by Laurie Halse Anderson, is filled with humor and wonderfully detailed illustrations. It is a great choice for parents who want to read a Thanksgiving book but just cannot handle one more story about the Pilgrims! This is a fantastic piece to compare and contrast how people made their voice heard before e-mail, texts, Twitter, and Facebook!
I never go a Christmas season without reading The Night the Stars Danced for Joy, by Bob Hartman. Make sure you have a box of tissues nearby when you read it. It has spiritual, relational, and historical implications that allow this book to be useful in kindergarten classrooms up through high school.
Goin’ Someplace Special, by Patricia C. McKissack, is a picture book that again lends itself to use in all grade levels. I used it in my first-grade classroom during our study of Martin Luther King, Jr., but it could easily inspire a research project for middle to high school students or a screenplay adaptation for aspiring filmmakers!
February is always a crowded month, but please do not go through a President’s Day celebration without reading Mr. Lincoln’s Whiskers, by Karen Winnick. It can be taught in conjunction with a lesson on letter-writing or as a starter for a higher level compare and contrast lesson on the current political climate or the way presidential behavior has changed throughout history.
Because March 2nd is Dr. Seuss’ birthday, we would of course highlight his books all month; my favorite being Horton Hatches the Egg. There are so many things you can do with this book, but at the elementary level we would focus on the character trait of faithfulness.
When I taught 4th grade, I always read The Four Corners by C.S. Elston. Not just because it’s written by my husband, but because it tells a truly fantastic tale of a family on the brink of emotional separation that is transported to a world where they are physically separated from each other. In a struggle to reunite, they each find strength in the bond that ties them together. The themes of unity and perseverance were good reminders to my students as they tended to get on each other’s nerves toward the end of the year.
I always finished the school year with a unit on birds so, naturally, I had to read Trumpet of the Swan, another E.B. White classic. It was so fun to watch my students get behind Louis and cheer him on as he overcame his challenges with the help of friends and family. This “old” book has so many themes that can be applied to our current social climate: acceptance, diligence, honesty, responsibility, and morality…just to name a few!
I truly hope this list helps, and you enjoy these books as much as I did!