Have you ever wanted to know what your students or your children were thinking?
I especially wonder what my one-year daughter is thinking, since she can’t communicate to me yet. I want to ask her, “Why is chewing on the bottom of a Swiffer mop appealing to you?” I seriously caught her doing that today as I was cleaning. I imagine she would say, “Mama, I’m teething. Leave me alone.” She is the Sunny Baudelaire of our house these days. (If you know, you know.)
With my eight-year-old son, I simply ask him what he’s thinking when I am wondering about it. Being a kid, honest answers always pour out.
I took him on a mommy-and-son date to the movies recently, and we got on the topic of our “favorites.” Favorite color, favorite movie, and even favorite books…which got me to thinking.
I loved hearing what his favorite books were. It was so interesting. He chose some that surprised me, and he chose some that didn’t surprise me.
Anyway…this all got me to thinking: Have you ever asked your students their favorite books? I do from time to time. Many answer with a genre. Only a couple really know their favorite book by title. It is so informative and imperative to know our students’ favorite books or even their favorite genres.
It can help us better choose books for units, read-alouds, and for our classroom libraries.
Since summer is all about reading, I thought it would be helpful for any 2nd-4th grade teacher to hear what my son’s top five books are. His favorites could very well be your students’ too. It could also give you some ideas on what to put in your classroom library.
Number 1: Dog Man by Dav Pilkey
Dog Man is a graphic novel about a part-man, part-dog who battles crime and suppresses his dog-like desires. With interesting illustrations and on-purpose grammatical errors, it appeals to elementary kids. Dog Man goes on adventures to fight crime and gets himself into a lot of mishaps. Dog Man fights animal villains and makes readers laugh in the process.
Dog Man has ten books in the series.
Liam says, “I like Dog Man because it’s funny. It’s about people saving the world. I like that the dog is half-human.“
Number 2: Blackbear the Pirate by Steve Buckley
Blackbear the Pirate is a picture book. The title is a pun on Blackbeard, but the main character is actually a black bear. The pirate crew is made up of a variety of animals who are out on an adventure to find Bearfoot, the Pirate, on the island of Bearataria.
The repetitive lines make it fun for kids to read along in a sing-song way. At the end, the reader learns that it’s not the destination that matters the most, but the journey.
Liam says, “I like it because the parrot is funny, and I like how they talked in the book. I really liked all the animal characters.”
This book would be perfect for “International Talk Like a Pirate Day,” which is September 19. We have a cute resource for this day or for any pirate-themed lesson.
Number 3: Pig the Star by Aaron Blabey
Pig the Star is a picture book all about well…a pug dog named Pig. Pig is very competitive and likes to be in the spotlight. In the end, however, he learns it’s best to give others the chance to shine. Pig definitely has a big personality and when he isn’t the star, it makes for some funny antics and outrageous remarks. When reading this book aloud, it is best read dramatically.
Pig the Star is part of a series that originated with Pig the Pug. It is a six book series.
My son says: “It’s hysterical. All the Pig books are great! I like it because the pig is always competitive.”
In addition to these fictional books, my son loves a good non-fiction book. In fact, a couple of blogs ago, I explored how most children, according to recent data, love non-fiction more than fiction.
So, he paid a nod to two of his most favorite non-fiction books:
Number 4: Smart Kids: Space written by Sarah Powell
Filled with accurate and colorful photographs of the planets, easy-to-understand facts about the solar system, and fun and interesting information, any child would enjoy this book. In fact, my son found this book in my elementary teaching bin. I used it quite frequently when I taught third grade. It was a favorite among the students. Its layout and design is appealing to both kids and adults.
Liam said, “I like the space book because learning about the planets is neat. It has lots of interesting facts. It even talks about the Milky Way. I used it for my school project.”
Number 5: Who Would Win? By Jerry Palotta
These non-fiction books match up animals into pairs and explains all the fascinating facts about each of them. Then, it essentially determines who would win in a battle between the two, while comparing and contrasting them. It is seriously scientific, with readers learning about brain structures, skeletal systems, and abilities, among other amazing findings.
Who Would Win is a large book series. Liam’s favorite is Book 13: T-Rex vs. Velociraptor.
“I like all the animals they put against each other. They give you facts, what they eat, their skeletons, what they bite through…what they hear and smell. It’s neat.”
If your students are interested in animal facts, we have a resource that includes non-fiction passages about different animals and various questions accompanying them. It also includes scientific notes graphic organizers.
Ask your students what their favorite books are or their favorite genres. Chances are you’ll get a wide array, such as what my son showed me. From non-fiction science books to hilarious fictional stories, a perfect classroom library is comprised of diverse books to appeal to a variety of students.