Tried and true titles

The following books are ones I have returned to often in my years as a librarian. I’ve tried to (briefly) indicate why this is so. This list is by no means all-inclusive and my “go to” titles change frequently, depending upon many things in a particular school year.

Folk and fairy tales

Demi, The Empty Pot

A lovely tale about the virtue of honesty.



Margaret Read MacDonald, The Old Woman who lived in a Vinegar Bottle.

Great story about being content with what you wish for.  This one was the first I learned to “tell” as opposed to “read” when I took a storytelling class a couple of years ago.  It’s great fun whichever you decide to do.


Tomie dePaola’s Legend of the Bluebonnet is a powerful story of personal sacrifice, and of doing something to benefit the larger community.  Children relate well to the main character.




Kathleen Krull’s Wilma Unlimited works on so many levels–as a story about perseverance, as a mentor text for aspects of author’s craft for Writer’s Workshop, as a readaloud for Women’s History month, etc.


Lindbergh, Nobody Owns the Sky

This tells the story of black aviator Bessie Coleman in well-crafted rhyme,  making it accessible to very young readers.


Burleigh, Tiger of the Snows: Tenzing Norgay: the boy whose dream was Everest

A nice twist to have a biography of a lesser-known person without whom a more famous personality (Sir Edmund Hillary) couldn’t have accomplished his goal.


David Adler and Terry Widener teamed up on a number of biographies, and this is one of my favorites.  Baseball books get a lot of mileage in the fall during the World Series and of course in spring when Little League season rolls around.  Athletes who are wonderful role models can be tough to find today.  Adler’s tight writing and Widener’s incredible illustrations do justice to the subject.


Chapter books

I never read a Cynthia Rylant book I didn’t like!  The Van Gogh Cafe is a superbly written tale of ordinary people who witness extraordinary, magical things at their local cafe.  Excellent page turns, marvelous for reading aloud, short enough to read over 2 or 3 library class periods.


Averill, Jenny and the Cat Club

An “oldie but goodie!”  Every year I’m amazed at how much my first graders enjoy these stories.  Proof once again that a book doesn’t have to have a lot of glitz if it’s a well-written story.


Picture Books

Children love the repetition and pattern in this one, and of course they can relate to the ending.  It’s such a quick read and can be paired with so many other titles for a pirate storytime.



Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon is another one of those books that can be used in so many ways.  It’s a warm tale about special time spent alone with Dad;  I have also used it as a mentor text for writing because of its lead, descriptive language, mood, etc.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lydia Schultz
    Feb 02, 2011 @ 19:42:28

    I just read Owl Moon to a bunch of preschoolers this past week and ended up with a roomful of children “whoo-whooing.” It was great fun. I like almost everything Jane Yolen writes–my own children adored Commander Toad. I think the page is a great addition.


  2. Mrs S
    Feb 03, 2011 @ 10:25:16

    I am a fan of Mem Fox books but I am not very familiar with Tough Boris. My favourite is Possum Magic. A very Australian book as it touches on many things unique to Australia.

    Have you read The Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French? Another very Australian title but so loveable as is the story behind the book.


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