In honor of my friend Renée, who started her first year as a third grade teacher this week, these are all the books I think should be in a third grade classroom:
Wingdingdilly by Bill Peet
Here’s the rule with Bill Peet: Don’t pull out this book unless you have a glass of water nearby. Or any Bill Peet book. They are wordy, and if you’re reading them aloud you’re going to need a beverage. But they’re so worth it. There is magic here. A dog wishes he was a horse, until a witch turns him into the Wingdingdilly and he learns to value who he is.
She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton
Every child in every classroom in America will learn about certain American women. This book, however, includes many of the women our history books forget. Every classroom needs a book that reminds us that women have persisted, and through this persistence women have shaped our world.
Journey Trilogy by Aaron Becker
A girl draws a door on her bedroom wall. That door opens into another world where colors mean everything and art comes to life. This entire trilogy belongs in every classroom. Unlike Bill Peet, Becker’s books have no words, giving children the opportunity to tell the story themselves.
The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
Read this book with your children, and then spend time with it. Talk about what it means. Talk about who the Once-ler is as a person. This book is a heavy-handed examination of environmentalism, but it’s also a great way to introduce children to nuance and the gray area between good and evil where most people exist.
I Am a Story by Dan Yaccarino
I think I reviewed this one before, but it’s still so beautiful. What is story? What does it mean to share narratives and tell tales? Easily one of my favorite little history picture books I’ve ever read. A love letter to story-telling and perfect for children who are learning to fall in love with writing.