Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My Top Ten, Well, Top Twelve

All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan

Twilight Comes Twice by Ralph Fletcher

The Whales by Cynthia Rylant

Cinnamon, Mint, & Mothballs by Ruth Tiller
Animals Nobody Loves by Seymour Simon
Salt Hands by Jane Chelsea Aragon
All Those Secrets of the World by Jane Yolen
All About Rattlesnakes by Jim Arnosky
Miss Maggie by Cynthia Rylant
The Seashore Book by Charlotte Zolotow
Sky Tree by Thomas Locker
Home by Thomas Locker

Here is my contribution to the Top Ten, which in reality is twelve!  Couldn't do it... could not list only my top ten.  I've tried before!  So, here's what I did, I listed two Cynthia Rylant's and two Thomas Locker's... which I'm going to have to count as one! 

I fell in love with Patricia MacLachlan when I first started teaching... and I've loved her ever since that time.  My kids gave me a copy of this book years ago.  It's perfect for teaching writers to explore their past. 

Jane Yolen.  This is my second favorite book that she's written, but it means the world to me because my friend, Randi Allison, taught me so much about writing by first sharing Yolen's words with me from this book!

Ralph Fletcher's work has always inspired me and this book is so beautifully written.  It's perfect for helping students create sensory images by choosing just the perfect words in their writing.

I think the Rylant choices are two of her most brilliant pieces of work!  Crafted so eloquently... both can be used to help writer's read and write with purpose and sensitivity.

Ruth Tiller's book is poetic and reminds me of home and childhood.  I close my eyes and it takes me places... rich in vocabulary and must be read with prosody and beauty.

I have a copy of Simon's book that is in black and white (from a book club when I was a child) and the newer color copy.  Perfect for teaching revision (similar, yet different).

Zolotow... is there any more to say.  I use this book as a touchstone text with every thinking strategy I teach... I use it over and over and over.  

Locker.  I love his work (I have a limited edition print of his in my living room).  This book can be used to add richness to writing, throw in a bit of science, and to teach readers to think of things from different points of view. 

Who doesn't love Jim Arnosky?  This book is perfect to teach writers when to use paragraphing when writing nonfiction... no silly formulaic writing here!

And Aragon's book (hard to find) is simple... the perfect mentor text!

Of course, if you ask me tomorrow, my list would likely change!  I would just have to look on one more shelf and ten more could possible emerge victorious!  But for today....

To read more "Top Ten Lists," be sure to check out A Year of Reading.  Or Reflect and Refine.  Or Enjoy and Embrace Learning.  Or Carol's Corner.  


  1. What an elegant, gentle list. I'm especially looking forward to checking out SALT HANDS. Thank you!

  2. Wow...what a great list! Several I haven't read and am looking forward to checking out as possible mentor texts with my students. Thank you for sharing...and I cheated too...I made two lists! ;)

  3. I'm pleased and flattered that you would include ANIMALS NOBODY LOVES in this list of outstanding children's literature. I hope that you and your teaching colleagues will visit my website, where we are providing many resources (including free, downloadable Teacher Guides) for educators to use in the classroom, as well as blogging daily about science news and science education. Thanks again for your vote of confidence - quite a thrill for those "animals that nobody loves"!
    Seymour Simon

  4. I can't believe I didn't choose any Cynthia Rylant! For shame!

    How fun that you got a note from Seymour Simon!

  5. Ah, I love Seymour Simon books. You have a lot of great titles on your list. I enjoyed perusing it. Cynthia Rylant is one of my favorite authors.

  6. I can't believe I didn't include Byrd Baylor or Patricia Polacco... or Jonathan London... or Lester Laminack... or Mem Fox...

    I think I'll do another blog on the 30th of August... That would be easier! Right?

  7. I love this list. I don't think I've read a single book!

    I'm a new follower!

    I'm quite interested in picture books. I'm working on my own (very late) list of ten books I must use.

    Your list has helped me add more good books to my school library.

  8. I love Thomas Locker's work and recommend him all the time to student teachers. I'm glad you've included them on your list.
    Thanks for your recommendations.
    Apples with Many Seeds

  9. Hello Patrick, it's nice to meet you online. This is an important list for me, because they are not new titles. As a new literacy coach at the primary level (but not a primary teacher by trade), I need some context--I know we have many of these titles on our shelves, and now I know at least which ten I should read and add to my repertoire.Indispensable knowledge! Thank you.