Friday, August 10, 2012

Top 10 on the 10th Event

I decided to participate in this year’s event again as a challenge to myself to see what I would change about my list from last year.   All the books from last year's list are still big-time favourites.

In case you’re new to this, The Top 10 on the 10th is a blogging event that challenges teachers, librarians, parents and other children literature aficionados to come up with a list of just 10 titles of all time, can’t-do-without children’s books.  It’s not an easy task.

So, with that in mind what would my list look like this year?  What will stay and what would go?  (Okay, not really go.  I mean, who could get rid of Mo Willem’s Pigeon? And would he leave anyway?)

So, the titles that stay are:

My People by Langston Hughes
Shadows by Suzy Lee

The Rabbits by John Marsden
Black Book of Colors by Menena Cottin.

Each of these is indispensable in my teaching.  When exposing undergraduate, student teachers to the wonderful world of children’s literature, I feel these offer some of the best examples of beautiful books (both for the writing and illustrations), present unique perspectives and really play with our expectations about what constitutes a 'good' book.

So, that’s four down, six to go.

New books that I fell in love with this year that I also feel are exemplary for my teaching purposes include,

Swirl by Swirl: spirals in nature by Joyce Sidman.  This is a beautifully composed and illustrated book about a natural phenomenon that crosses boundaries between science, math and literature.

Ten Birds by Cybele Young is the 2011 Canadian Governor General’s Award winner for illustration.  This one allows me to draw attention to the idea that sometimes picture books are better suited to older readers rather than to young children.  Ten different birds must figure out how to cross a river. Most go to great, elaborate lengths to construct contraptions that will allow it to cross over. But, with the last bird, we realize that sometimes the simplest solution will work, too.  Subtext is a commentary on labeling and individual ability.

Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid is one of those books that really draws you in and keeps your attention with her plastercine illustrations.  This is a celebration about, well you know – trees.  Their beauty, essentialness to life, and ability to provoke imagination, is here to inspire teachers and kids to look closely at their world.

And, the last three books I’ll include in this list are slightly older.

How Smudge Came by Nan Gregory is a touching and well told story about a young women living in a group home who finds a stray pup. The story never really describes Cindy’s disability only suggests in the illustrations that it might be Downs Syndrome.  The story remains strongly focused on the premise about wanting to keep and love this dog not about Cindy’s impairment.

14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy is another touching story based on a true event.  A book like this really brings home to student teachers that children’s books are not all fairy tales, adventures, sweetness and light which surprises some.  Sometimes deep and dark subjects like the destruction of the Twin Towers can be told without overwhelming a young audience.

Tsunami by Joydeb Chitrakar is just awesome.  The unique production of this book is fantastic.  It  is entirely handmade, an accordion-style foldout book representing the traditional storytelling method in Bengal, India showing us the devastation left in the wake of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia.  Very big cool factor that has potential in art and social studies classrooms.  This one isn’t for young children. 

Check out the Top 10 on the 10th event to read what others are writing about and come away with new 'must-have, can't-live-without' titles.
A web Jog has been created that will list all blog participants.  I suspect that this year's list will exceed last year's 63 blogs.  Otherwise, go to one of the two hosts - Reflect and Refine or Enjoy and Embrace Learning.


Beverley Baird said...

I haven't read any of these books but am very interested in reading them now! Great varied list!

Linda B said...

I love the 14 Cows for America, a must have on our shelves. You've shared so many good ones. I am not familiar with those first 3 that you really highlighted, so will be sure to check them out. Also, Ten Birds is very inviting for its premise you described. Thanks for such a good list!

Looking for the Write Words said...

Your list has introduced me to several new titles to pursue. I am also thrilled to have learned about your blog. It looks like a wonderful resource. Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting. ~ Theresa

Mandy said...

I had to get My People, I love this poem and have seen the book but hadn't picked it up yet. Thanks for joining us this year.

Deb Frazier said...

Thanks for joing this event and sharing these (new to me) titles! I love that you are speaking from the perspective of teaching teachers about children's lit. I am trying to think about what titles I would choose for this purpose…this would be an amazing responsibility!

Holly Mueller said...

I saw you commented on my list, so I popped over to see what you have on yours. You have some I haven't heard of, so I will have to check them out! I'm very intrigued by Ten Birds.

Maria said...

Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment on my blog. I appreciate the reminder about 14 Cows for America. That one had slipped back on my book shelf.

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