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Teacher Recommendations (and a great blog)

Teacher Recommended Books

How do you find a great book?  For most people, personal recommendations work best.  A friend’s suggestion carries even more weight for me than a flattering review in a newspaper.  This year at Evergreen School, our teachers are helping to spread the word about some of their favorite picture books on our new ‘Teacher Recommended Books’ board.

We started working on it at our opening faculty meeting and it is still a work in progress.  As an ice-breaker, each teacher wrote the name of their favorite children’s picture book on a slip of paper.  I read the name of each book and the group tried to guess who selected each one.  No one was surprised that Mrs. Conn selected Caps for Sale or that Mrs. Liotta selected Old Sadie and the Christmas Bear.  But we were well surprised to learn of Mrs. Basturescu’s love for The Napping House, Mrs. Hatziyannis’s affection for The Giving Tree and Mrs. John’s for Leo the Late Bloomer.

While working on the project, I came across a wonderful picture book blog called A Million Words written by Amy Dixon.  Amy is the author of Marathon Mouse and has reviewed too many picture books on her site to count. And she mixes her reviews with posts about her other passions including writing, running and parenting. Below are excerpts from her reviews of two of our teachers’ favorites.

Caps for SaleCaps for Sale (Written and Illustrated by Esphyr Slobodkina, 1938. Review by Amy Dixon and favorite by Mrs. Conn)

This has got to be one of the most well-loved books on our bookshelf. Surprising, considering it breaks one of the major picture book writing rules, which is that the main character should never be an adult. But guess what, folks, there isn’t a child to be seen anywhere in this book! But there are monkeys. Oh, the monkeys! Now be warned, you will have to explain to the children you read it to exactly what a peddler is. And you will have to convince them that although yes, they do have 50 cents in their piggy-bank, that no, it will no longer buy them a gray, brown, blue, red, or even a checked cap.

The Napping HouseThe Napping House (Written and illustrated by  Don and Audry Wood, 1984.  Review by Amy Dixon and favorite by Mrs. Basturescu)

Naps are funny things. As children, we felt naps were a sort of punishment. You want me to stop constructing this fort out of the entire contents of your linen closet so that I can go lay down in a dark room? Because it’s good for me? What did I ever do to you? As adults, there’s not a day that goes by that we think couldn’t be made better by the addition of a nap. Not one. But it isn’t until we have our own children that we discover the true power of the nap. A nap can mean the difference between arches-back-so-you-can’t-buckle-him-in-and-you-get-kicked-in-the-face-while-trying-to-WWF-him-into-the-carseat child, and the sits-sweetly-in-the-shopping-cart-and-charms-the-pants-off-the-entire-world child. A nap can mean the difference between a day where you actually get to write, or exercise, or clean (don’t you dare clean during the precious nap hours!) or, I don’t know…EAT REAL FOOD…and a day where you serve toast and applesauce for dinner. Naps are magical. So you can’t argue with the appeal of a book called, THE NAPPING HOUSE. And you won’t blame me when I tell you that I want to live there.

Please share your favorites with us in the comment box below.

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  1. Amy Dixon
    September 7, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Wow, John, thanks so much for your kind words about my blog! I would love to direct you as well to Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog. She is the host of Perfect Picture Book Friday and has a list indexed by topic that links to probably more picture book reviews than you can handle! 🙂 It is a wonderful resource for parents and teachers. Best Wishes for a great school year!

  2. September 7, 2012 at 3:45 pm

    Thanks, Amy. I was so thrilled to find your blog. And I laughed out loud reading your review of The Napping House. I hope many more readers find you online. I will check out Susanna’s blog, too.

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