Wednesday, August 10, 2011

10 for 10--Picture Books that Celebrate Words!

I LOVE this day and hope is becomes an annual tradition FOREVER! Thanks to Cathy at REFLECT AND REFINE and Mandy at ENJOY AND EMBRACE LEARNING for creating this wonderful event! It is totally impossible for me to come up with my Top 10 picture books so I didn't even attempt it.  Instead I have must Must-Haves (at the moment favorites) that celebrate words.

I have learned over the years, that word play takes me a long way with kids.  If I want them to think about words and word choice in writing, if I want them to pay attention to new words they see and hear, and if I want them to discover the power of words, they must first have fun with words. So, I am always looking for new books that help kids celebrate the fun in words. I often use these books in the first six weeks of school to start various conversations about words that we'll come back to. Each of these books is fun and playful and invites kids into the joy of word play. Most of the books listed are natural invitations for children to play with words in lots of ways!

Mr. Putney's Quacking DogMr. Putney's Quacking Dog by Jon Agee is a fun book about a man who has all sorts of animal (and other) friends.  Each page serves as a type of riddle for readers.  The wording of the riddle give readers a clue into the answer to the riddle and each requires that readers put together two words. This is the perfect level of humor and word play for young and middle grade readers.  The language play is very accessible to them.

This Plus That: Life's Little EquationsThis Plus That is Amy Krouse Rosenthal's newest book and is such fun!  Rosenthal puts words into equations to help define the word a bit. The equations become a riddle for the reader and kids definitely leave this book wanting to try word equations of their own.

Chicken CheeksChicken Cheeks by Michael Ian Black is a book about bottoms.  The illustrations and words work together to describe animals trying to get to the honey at the top of a tree. But the main words in the story label the "bottoms" of each animal. A new word is used to label each animal's bottom (derriere, patootie, etc.) This is a fun book and a great way to begin conversations about synonyms and word choice.  (The video of Michael Ian Black reading this one aloud is quite fun!)

Animal SoupAnimal Soup by Todd Doodler is a lift-the-flap book. It is a another book that combines two known words to create a new word.  Doodler asks the reader a question that requires combining two animal words and the reader lifts the flap for the answer.  A fun read for young children and a great way to begin discussions about word parts with older kids.

Q Is for Duck: An Alphabet Guessing GameQ is for Duck is an old favorite.  It is an alphabet book but it is a little bit tricky.  The book follows a pattern telling readers things like "Q is for duck". When the reader turns they page, they realize that "Q is for duck" because "a duck quacks." Readers love to work to figure out how the letters relate to the word given.  A fun game for readers to play and the text is great for new readers.

A Sock Is a Pocket for Your Toes: A Pocket BookI love the way that Liz Scanlon thinks about pockets in the book A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes.  Who could have thought of a sock being a pocket for your toes? This book is full of ideas like this and it is great fun looking at how authors can play with words in unique ways.

Beach Is to Fun: A Book of RelationshipsHad I known about Beach is to Fun:  A Book of Relationships by Pat Brisson when I was in elementary school, analogies might make far more sense to me!  This is a book of analogies and the comparisons follow the rules of good analogies. It is fun for readers to discover the way these analogies work. When I've used this book with 3rd-5th graders, they beg to go off and try to write their own analogies around a topic.  So different from my attitude about analogies after being introduced to them on a multiple choice bubble sheet!?

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible VerseMirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse  by Marilyn Singer is simply brilliant!  In this take on classic fairy tales, the author plays with Reverso and actually completely reverses the words in one poem to create another, very different poem about the same story.  This is a fun read and the idea of Reverso is discussed at the end of the book.  This is a great book to include with fairy tale reading too!

DogkuEvery time I read DOGKU by Andrew Clements to a group,  I have several students begging to try to write a story in Haiku. That is what the author does in DOGKU. This is a picture book story about a lost dog who finds a new home.  But each page is written in Haiku. Even the author blurb and other features in the book are written in Haiku. A fun way to write and enjoy a story!

One Foot, Two Feet
I just found is One Foot, Two Feet by Peter Maloney. The book appears to be a simple counting book but the paired words are really "exceptional plurals". The illustrations are shown with cut out frames and the words are show the various ways that we turn singular words into plural words.  


  1. Love this list, Franki! I love many of the books here, and I'm off to read the ones I don't know. Thanks!

  2. Love love love your list! I have a few of these books as well. My husband tells me to stop reading your blogs because i keep purchasing the books you recommend. He kidding! THANKS for your new recommendations! Happy Reading!

  3. Thanks for the recommendations. This Plus That looks particularly interesting.
    Apples with Many Seeds

  4. Oh I have to find Chicken Cheeks. I think my husband would enjoy reading it to my boys! This is a great list as well useful ways to use the texts. Love it.

  5. Thanks for joining us today and what an honor that this might be your favorite holiday. I just have to get, One Foot Two Feet.

  6. Fancy Nancy books help build vocabulary. We use this series to help build up our million dollar word lists.


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