“Don’t Take That Away!”: Best of 2013

I thought about sharing what I thought were some of the best books of 2013, but, instead I decided to share with you opinions based on student response. After all, the books were written for them. Before I begin, I want to say that although I bought many, many new releases from 2013, I have not yet read them all to my students.

I set a special spot aside in my room-  a shelf where I put books we’ve shared together (ones that I’ve read aloud). It gets pretty full pretty quick, so I have to comb through it occasionally and take books away. I usually do it while students are there, and these are some of the books that got the biggest response of “NO! Don’t take that one away!” this year.

Before I begin, I have to admit that my students have great taste in books…

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown


This book won me over and when my students responded with as much enthusiasm for it as I did, I was thrilled. I used it as a lesson- it’s okay to be wild sometimes, but not all the time. The illustrations are stunning and I love the facial expressions on the animals.

Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeier & illustrated by Suzy Lee


This book was a hit even before Jesse visited our school in November. Students love carefully opening book after book after book, and after Jesse visited they added the expressions and dramatics she used when she read them the story.

Bits & Pieces by Judy Schachner


What can I say about this heartwarming story about Judy Schachner’s old cat Tink. We read the book and then watched Scholastic’s video of Judy reading the book, and the students wanted it read aloud again even after that. Tink discovers the outdoors during a trip to the vet and sneaks away one day.

Oliver and His Alligator  by Paul Schmid


I read this book on the first day of school to both sections of first grade and it was equally loved by both. It’s very interactive and students cheer on Oliver and his alligator.

Sophie’s Squash  by Pat Zietlow Miller & illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf


Sophie falls in love with her squash, Bernice, but as time goes on, Bernice begins to rot. Sophie must accept her loss when winter comes, and finds a surprise come spring.

Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lerhaupt & illustrated by Matthew Forsythe


Another great interactive book which begged to be read again and again. When someone tells you not to turn the page, what’s your natural instinct? To turn the page, of course!

The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman

fish-and-snail-cover (1)

Students found this text relatable on so many levels- disagreeing with a friend, trying something new, and more. Fish is adventurous and Snail is uncertain, but the two find a balance and a way to make their friendship work.

Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger


This very simple book conveys a powerful message. With its few words, it was perfect for my emerging readers and many wanted to take it home to read to mom and dad.

Ah Ha!  by Jeff Mack


Mack tells a story about a frog with bad luck using only the words “ah” and “ha.” A very clever story in which readers cheer the frog on to safety from its predators.

Tea Party Rules  by Ame Dyckman & illustrated by K.G. Campbell


Cub wants to join in on a girl’s tea party but he must first learn there are rules to be followed. This is a laugh out loud funny book which students enjoyed and read and re-read.

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