Start the New Year With Great Read-Alouds

Swirl by Swirl : Spirals in Nature.  Joyce Sidman.  Houghton Mifflin, 2011.
This stunning non-fiction poetry book is my pick for the Caldecott Medal.  It is a poetic and visual exploration of spirals in nature.  It has many curriculum uses such as writing poetry, patterns and shapes in nature, Fibonacci sequence, scratchboard art.  Or it can just be enjoyed for the visual and verbal feast that it is.  Go to the author’s website for great ideas on using this book with students.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-4th grade


Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade.  Melissa Sweet.  Houghton Mifflin, 2011.
Sweet wonderfully tells the fascinating true story of Tony Sarg who invented the balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.  They debuted in 1928 as Macy’s way of honoring immigrant employees who missed their holiday traditions of music and dancing in the streets.  The illustrations are a combination of collage and watercolors.  Picture book biography at its best.
Read-aloud 1st-4th grade

The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories.  Dr. Seuss.  Random House, 2011.
This collection of seven stories were first published in magazines between 1948 and 1959.  The themes include greed, the importance of having an imagination, problem solving.  Classic Seuss.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud 1st-3rd grade



Blue Chicken.  Deborah Freedman.  Viking, 2011.
A chicken decides to help the artist who created her paint the barnyard.  She steps out of the picture and accidentally tips over the jar of paint, making herself and the whole picture blue.  Kids will enjoy predicting how she may solve the problem.  Delightful picture book!
Read-aloud K-2nd grade


Bun Bun Button.  Patricia Polacco.  Putnam’s, 2011.
Grandma makes Paige a stuffed rabbit so she has something to hold while Grandma reads to her in the Old Blue Chair.  Paige makes the mistake of tying Bun Bun to a helium balloon and taking him outside.  Bun Bun has a long journey before finding his way back home.  Comforting.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-2nd grade


The Gingerbread Girl Goes Animal Crackers.  Lisa Campbell Ernst. Dutton, 2011.
She’s back!  Her parents give her a box of animal crackers for her birthday.  They escape and the chase is on. “We’re wild Animal Crackers,/Hear our fierce roar,/You can’t catch us,/We’re off to explore!”  In the nick of time, the Gingerbread Girl rescues the Animal Crackers from the wily fox.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-2nd grade

How to Teach a Slug to Read.  Susan Pearson.  Marshall Cavendish, 2011.
The ten rules for teaching a little slug how to read work equally well on human children.
The funny artwork will engage kids and adults.  I especially like the page with the slug version of popular books, such as The Snail in the Hat, Go Slug, Go and Where the Wild Slugs Are.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-3rd grade


If You Give a Dog a Donut.  Laura Numeroff.  Balzer & Bray, 2011.
Another winner in Numeroff’s popular “If You…” series.  The dog is adorable as he dances his way through the pages, picking apples, playing baseball and flying a kite.
Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-2nd grade



Little Penguin: the Emperor of Antarctica.  Jonathan London.  Marshall Cavendish, 2011.
Simple text and vibrant illustrations tell the story of the first 5 months of an Emperor chick’s life from the chick’s point of view.  Good, basic life cycle information.  Appealing.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-2nd grade


Neville.  Norton Juster.  Schwartz & Wade Books, 2011.
Moving and making new friends is a very difficult thing for most kids.  The boy in this story has all of the usual worries.  On the first day in the new house, his mother tells him to walk down the block as a way to make new friends.  Suddenly, he starts shouting “Neville” at the top of his lungs and is gradually joined by kids in the neighborhood.  And so the process of making new friends begins, but the kids don’t know that the boy’s own name is Neville.  A clever, warm-hearted story.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-3rd grade


The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece.  Anthony L. Manna.  Schwartz & wade, 2011.
This lovely version is set in Greece is similar to the traditional telling with a few twists from nature: The sun, moon dawn and the sea.  Well crafted.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-3rd grade



The Princess and the Pig.  Jonathan Emmett.  Walker, 2011.
What a hoot of a fractured fairy tale.  A new baby princess accidentally changes places with a piglet, changing their lives forever.  The adults rationalize this as the “sort of thing that happens all the time in books”: Sleeping Beauty, Thumbelina, The Prince and the Pauper, Puss in Boots, The Frog Prince.  A laugh-out loud ending will delight readers.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-3rd grade


Stars.  Mary Lyn Ray.  Beach Lane Books, 2011.
Stars are not limited to the beauty of the night sky.  They can be found in snowflakes, dandelion seeds, strawberry blossoms.  You can make a star and stick it on your shirt or keep it in your pocket for days when you don’t feel shiny.  Lots of creative possibilities for using this book with kids.  Pair it with Byrd Baylor’s Everybody Needs a Rock. Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-2nd grade

Tom’s Tweet.  Jill Esbaum.  Alfred Knopf, 2011.
When fat Tom cat finds a skinny little bird that has fallen from its nest, he decides it’s too scrawny for a snack, so he tries to return it to its nest.  Mama Tweet is having none of that.  The illustrations will have kids (and adults) laughing out loud.  Picture Book.
Read-aloud K-2nd grade

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