Picture Book Love - Queen of the First Grade Jungle

Picture Book Love

As you know I am currently on a teaching hiatus to take care of two-year-old son, but this does not mean I have stopped loving #allthebooks!  In fact, I think my obsession has only grown as I closely watch my three children partake in their journey with books and reading. Here is a peek at my at home library: 

And that's only about one-fourth of it!  Okay, enough chatter I would love to talk to you about five books that I think are essential to EVERY classroom!



Book #1Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles Illustrated by: Rod Clement

Why you need it: BE WHO YOU AREBesides having some of the best illustrations of ANY book I have ever read, I also love the message within the pages.  I chose to read the book on the first day of school every year for the last seven school years, because I want my students to know that who they are deep inside, is exactly who they are supposed to be! This book helps me to set that tone right off the bat!

Summary:  Edward envies the attention that other animals receive in the zoo so he hops from exhibit to exhibit trying to change who he is.  Students sit in suspense as they try to guess which animal Edward will imitate next. A surprise ending will send the kids into a fit of giggles.  If your kids fall for Edward, do not worry! There is a SEQUEL! 

Book #2Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis

Why you need it: WORDS MATTER.  In a world where people type hateful comments or say things without thinking of the repercussions, we need to instill in our children that words are important and that they matter. While saying you are "sorry" can help things get back on the right track, we can't ever fully take away the pain we cause with hurtful words.

Summary: Maya is a new girl in the class. Her clothes are very worn and her toys are old.  She becomes an easy target for the girls at school.  After Maya leaves to go to another new school. Chloe realizes all too late the damage she has caused.  There is no mushy ending to this tale, and I think that was an excellent choice by Woodson. 


Book #3
Iggy Peck by Andrea Beaty  Illustrated by: David Roberts

Why you need it: STEM.  If you have not been living under a rock, you have heard the new push for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) resources in the classroom.  Andrea Beaty is an absolute wizard with words and David Roberts' quirky drawings pull kids into the text.  After reading Iggy Peck, make sure to visit with Rosie Revere and Ada Twist as well! 

Summary: Iggy Peck LOVES to build.  He will use any and all materials to make the most amazing of creations.  He arrives to 2nd grade and immediately feels stifled by his teacher who hates architecture. The horror! She has a change of heart when Iggy uses his engineering skills to rescue his class from a sticky situation!

Book #4:  Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwell  

Why you need it: REPRESENTATION MATTERS.  For a long time I didn't pay attention to the skin color of the characters in my classroom library.  BIG mistake on my part. All of our students deserve to see themselves represented in the pages of picture books (and not just by athletes and social justice leaders either).  Taking that into account, I love the storyline as well! The lesson of the book would serve as a nice analogy about trying new things in life.  Just jump on in the water!

Summary: Jabari is SO excited about jumping off the high dive.  As he begins the long climb up the ladder he begins to doubt himself.  With encouragement from his dad he finds the necessary courage and doesn't regret it!  Cornwell does a wonderful jump off walking you through the range of emotions that Jabari experiences on his adventure. 


Book #5:  I Dissent by Debbie Levy Illustrated by: Elizabeth Baddeley  

Why you need it: ROLE MODELS.  Picture books allow our young students access to people who can serve as wonderful role models in their lives. I also love how the author highlighted Ginsburg's friendship Justice Scalia, who Ginsburg frequently disagreed with on big issues. 

Summary: In 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first Jewish woman justice of the Supreme Court.  The author takes us on a journey through her childhood, college years, and marriage.   We learn that Ginsburg was very different from other girls her age and that that's not a bad thing!  


I love all these books so much that several of them are highlighted in units on TPT:
You can find them here:



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38 comments

  1. These are great book selections that you highlighted in this post! Thanks for giving us teacher readers a brief summary of each book along with your main reason why it needs to be included in ours (if it is not already)!!!

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