The Gift of Books:
Terrific Titles for the Classroom Library

As teach­ers across the coun­try take to the streets to push for ade­quate com­pen­sa­tion and work con­di­tions, it’s a won­der we still have young peo­ple enter­ing this noble pro­fes­sion. And yet, at col­lege and uni­ver­si­ty grad­u­a­tion cer­e­monies every­where, new teach­ers will be receiv­ing their cre­den­tials as they embark on what will like­ly be one of the most chal­leng­ing and reward­ing career choic­es pos­si­ble. Thank good­ness we still have peo­ple who are brave enough, smart enough, strong enough, and kind enough to become teach­ers. Where would we be with­out the next gen­er­a­tion of edu­ca­tors (aka heroes)?

If you know of some­one who is just join­ing the ranks, the titles on this list of trea­sured books in my per­son­al library might be just what he/she needs to start things off in the class­room. Or maybe you know of a teacher who is fin­ish­ing up their first or sec­ond year in the class­room, what a love­ly “you sur­vived so far” gift one of these books would be. Or per­haps you should treat your­self to your own “Teacher Appre­ci­a­tion Day” gift? Regard­less of the rea­son, I am con­vinced any or all of these books would be a delight­ful addi­tion to anyone’s col­lec­tion. Be sure to check out the links pro­vid­ed for ter­rif­ic resources relat­ed to each title.

Be Who You Are!  

Be Who You Are!
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Todd Parr
Lit­tle, Brown, 2016

With col­or­ful, charm­ing illus­tra­tions, Parr reminds us that cel­e­brat­ing and embrac­ing our unique selves is the tick­et to a hap­py life. Share this book on the very first day of school to cre­ate a cli­mate of accep­tance and community.


Duck! Rabbit!  

Duck! Rab­bit!
writ­ten by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
illus­trat­ed by Tom Lichtenheld

An abstract con­cept made sim­ple for kids of all ages to grasp … the wit­ty visu­als clear­ly sup­port the notion that accept­ing and hon­or­ing mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives is an impor­tant and wise idea. Share this book to help kids see things from anoth­er person’s point of view, pro­mot­ing empa­thy and understanding. 


Let Me Finish!  

Let Me Finish!
writ­ten by Minh Lê
illus­trat­ed by Isabel Roxas
Dis­ney Hype­r­i­on, 2016

Who would have thought that a sim­ple desire to read with­out inter­rup­tions could turn into such an adven­ture? This sweet sto­ry not only tells the tale of an avid read­er, it also offers up illus­tra­tions that will gen­er­ate plen­ty of pre­dic­tions, oohs and ahs! Share this sto­ry ear­ly on in the school year to estab­lish suc­cess­ful expec­ta­tions and shared agree­ments for inde­pen­dent read­ing time. 



The Word Collector


The Word Collector
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Peter Reynolds
Orchard Books, 2018

A per­fect pick for fos­ter­ing a love of words. Share this book to cel­e­brate the joy of dis­cov­er­ing new words and expand­ing one’s vocab­u­lary. Jerome will delight read­ers with his pen­chant for col­lect­ing words. Chances are he will also inspire at least a few logophiles along the way. 



writ­ten by Sta­cy McAnulty
illus­trat­ed by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Run­ning Press Kids, 2016

A play­ful book about girls, how­ev­er it’s def­i­nite­ly not just for girls. In addi­tion to some fun, it presents plen­ty of wise words to con­sid­er. Share this book to rein­force the beau­ti­ful mes­sage to all chil­dren that girls can be and do any­thing. Also a great choice for teach­ing the com­pre­hen­sion strat­e­gy of visu­al­iz­ing. The men­tal imagery that is gen­er­at­ed from a text-only read-aloud will like­ly be dif­fer­ent from the illus­tra­tions when revealed.


Elephant & Piggie Biggie!  

An Ele­phant and Pig­gie Biggie
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Mo Willems
Dis­ney Hype­r­i­on, 2017

A col­lec­tion of five favorite titles fea­tur­ing the endear­ing duo cre­at­ed by Mo. Two lov­able best friends help kids learn a lot about life and impor­tant themes includ­ing fac­ing fears, per­se­ver­ance, shar­ing, adven­ture and so much more. Share this book to encour­age flu­en­cy prac­tice with part­ner read­ing or per­haps some read­ers the­ater performances.



Shaking Things Up  

Shak­ing Things Up: 
14 Young Women Who Changed the World
writ­ten by Susan Hood
illus­trat­ed by Sophie Black­all, Emi­ly Win­field Mar­tin, Shadra Strick­land, Melis­sa Sweet, LeUyen Pham, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Lisa Brown, Seli­na Alko, Hadley Hoop­er, Isabel Rox­as, Erin Robin­son, and Sara Palacios 
Harper­Collins, 2018

A won­der­ful col­lec­tion of poems and stun­ning illus­tra­tions, fea­tur­ing diverse trail­blaz­ers who will inspire a new gen­er­a­tion of girls to change the world for the bet­ter. Share this book to teach biogra­phies and con­nect to a vari­ety of social stud­ies, math, art and sci­ence top­ics includ­ing pre­his­toric ani­mals, WWI and WWII, school inte­gra­tion, med­ical dis­cov­er­ies, and space exploration.


The Important Book  

The Impor­tant Book
writ­ten by Mar­garet Wise Brown
illus­trat­ed by Leonard Weisgard
Harper­Collins, 1949

An excep­tion­al men­tor text for inspir­ing young writ­ers. Fol­low­ing a sim­ple pat­tern and fea­tur­ing every­day objects, this clas­sic title demon­strates how to cre­ate a poem or para­graph focused on what mat­ters most to the writer. Share this book in a les­son to launch writer’s work­shop, teach deter­min­ing impor­tance or as a clever way for new class­mates to intro­duce them­selves with a class book enti­tled “The Impor­tant Book about Our Class.”



Ideas Are All Around
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Phillip Stead
Roar­ing Brook Press, 2016

A per­fect choice for help­ing chil­dren reflect on the won­ders and ideas that fill each day. Over­flow­ing with pos­si­bil­i­ties for extend­ing the sto­ry, this first-per­son nar­ra­tive from the author, reminds us that small moments can tru­ly become big inspi­ra­tions. Share this book and its mixed media illus­tra­tions to offer an engag­ing art and writ­ing lesson.


Jabari Jumps  

Jabari Jumps
writ­ten and illus­trat­ed by Gaia Cornwall
Can­dlewick Press, 2017

Every­one needs a bit of encour­age­ment now and then. Kids will eas­i­ly relate to Jabari, brave on the out­side, a bit ner­vous on the inside, as he pre­pares to jump off the div­ing board for the first time. With sup­port from his patient dad, Jabari shows read­ers how to be a risk tak­er and achieve suc­cess. Share this book to intro­duce or rein­force what it means to have a growth mind­set and over­come one’s fears.


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