Category: Books

Books: that make them WOW

Read alouds that make them get lost, question, predict and imagine.

When I’ve read this book it seems to capture every student’s attention, during the story they are predicting and taking in the illustrations and their imaginations are going wild. When the book is finished there are always so many story extensions to do!

The Night Gardener by Terry and Eric Fan

What an amazing book, in the hardcover copy the actual book (under the sleeve) is BEAUTIFUL. The students were in “aw” of how “old fashioned” the book was designed. Inside the book there is not much colour but the students appreciated it that much more, especially when the first glance of colour appeared! The students were held in suspense throughout the book and imagined what would come next.

//TEACHER BONUS// season change effects

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton

Maybe one of my hands down favorite books as a teacher. There are so many depths to this book.

I used it to teach Science Humaine Grade 1 (Social Studies) outcomes of:

  • key events and development in the local community
  • relationships between community and their environment
  • natural and man made features of the local environment

Not only does it hit these outcomes but also, season change, pollution, urbanization of rural land, maintaining and taking care of things we own, city vs rural living, the list goes on! This is quite a long book therefore I like to break it up into two parts. The first few pages is about life in the country, this is where the season changes happen. Stop there and then take off again the next day finishing the book. Students are amazed at the change of the landscape over years and then find empathy for the house who becomes forgotten but never sold. I recently found a Disney version of the book online. This short movie follows the story line to an extent.

***at 3:57-4:01 there are two people yelling out their broken windows “ahhhh shut up” so if  you are playing this for your class or child.. I just muted that part. But you have to be on top of it! Since the students know the story I have also played it muted the whole time, a silent movie!

Imaginary Fred by  Eoin Colfer

With simple drawings children are captivated at the dotted drawing of the imaginary friend, as if they are there but not. Not only does this spark imagination, but also conquers loneliness and friendship!

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown

First off: take off the cover sleeve and expose the hardcover. WOW.  Just WILD! The drawings in this book make students observe everything so bland, proper and the same until things change. A book about being ourselves and being different which has the power to inspire others.

Open This Little Book by  Jesse Klausmeier

A book within a book, within and book, within a book! Too much fun! Students are in aw of how small the next book can get! Motivating picturebook to find all those quirky and  unique books that libraries/bookstores have to offer! (Or to even create their own!)

Mr. Zinger’s Hat by  Cary Fagan

Every year the Grade Ones receive a book from TD Canada Trust. In French Immersion the students received this book in French, but it is very very hard for a Grade One student in French Immersion (to listen to, let alone read). This book might find its way back into their lives in a few years but for the time being it is an amazing book in English! A young boy captivated by an old man who writes stories. The old man and the young boy tell a story together which changes direction every time the boy gives a new idea. This not only opens up imagination with the students but also allows for them to see that their story is up to them, anything is possible in story telling.

The French (un read) version

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett

A box of yarn is found by Anabelle in her dreary white and black town. She knits herself and her dog a sweater and yet has more yarn. She goes on to knitting so much more for others and stirs things up in her town! Anabelle deals with jealousy, fame, betrayal, creativity and more! The students are quite intrigued in what will happen next, especially after she is offered MILLIONs for the box!

Papa’s Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming

We often talk about inventions and using your imagination to create whatever you want. This book allows students to see the process in which an inventor creates his creations. Not only does he find success but he also has many trials and fails before even coming close! The students loved predicting his changes and even predicting what wouldn’t work. I found this book a little hard to translate on the fly into French but managed and they loved it.

Un livre (French Edition) by Herve Tullet

Press Here (English Edition)

A simple book that brought so much enjoyment and wonder, so many OOs and Ahhhs! The days to follow a few students were inspired and re read the book to themselves and create their own “press here” story. I read this book in English and translated it, only to find out later that it comes in French! Regardless and enjoyable book that asks for participation and wows the students are they are held in suspense trying to guess what will happen after their next actions.

A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon

A Bad Case of Stripes is a book I am having a hard time categorizing! This book did WOW the students but not so much an inspirational story for imagination. What wow-ed them is how her nerves creates so many different shades on her body. Deep down it is about anxiety, self esteem, social pressure and conformity that she has put onto herself which might be a topic a little too hard to grasp in a grade one class. A book I could not, not mention! The pictures themselves are very enjoyable and the students did really enjoy the story at the level that they understood it.

Curious Garden, The by Peter Brown

Another great book by Peter Brown. So many students in my class are so curious therefore the Curious Garden was a hit! This book not only opens them up to the world of gardening (my favorite) but even the wonder of how big and lush vegetation can get and how easily it can be lost if we do not take care of it! This book is great for teaching seasons and plant cycles as well! Again, like the book Papa’s Mechanical Fish, this book displays perseverance and what a child can achieve through reading and passion if they are determined.

10 books to make them WOW! in the primary classroom


There are so many books out there and sometimes it is hard to weed out the good from the bad. I find students are so much more engaged (especially early primary) if the book is in English. Sometimes when it is a truly meaningful story I will make that call: whether to read it in English, or French or maybe a little of Both!

These books touch on kindness, empathy, compassion, and friendliness. Sometimes seeing actions on the other “side” help students get in touch with their values and morals and see that some actions are unkind which leads to what not do to others.  After we read books and I see students acting less than kind to others I often break out the line “remember the golden rule?” and that usually has them reflecting and reconsidering.

Bullies Never Win

A great story about Jessica-a worrier and Brenda-a bully. Enough descriptive language that helps the read a loud  and keep the students in suspense. After I read this book on #pinkshirtday students CHEERED for Jessica! You know they were into it when… ! What a great story.
The Recess Queen or in French La Reine De La Récré

In our class we follow a program from the Vancouver Canucks called Fin’s Friends. This program teacher character and social responsibility. It is for Kindergarten to grade 3. Every “kit” has different lessons and books and you receive it all at the beginning of the year! Even better they have created the program for both English and French students (with books in each language) The recess queen is Mean Jean (Suzie Chipie: in French) a girl who rules the playground, until one day when a new student comes… Katie Sue (Marie-Luce: in French).
Enemy Pie


Enemy Pie is another book from Fin’s Friends. Book is part of the grade 2 kit. The boy in the story displays characteristics of jealousy over the summer as a new boy moves into the neighborhood JEREMY ROSS who moved in next door to his best friend. His world seems shaken up now that the new boy is around and so his dad helps him bake an “enemy” pie..which actually smelled quite GOOD…
Odd Velvet

Again, another one from Fin! Odd Velvet is a girl who just does everything differently and likes strange things..etc, etc Everyone seems to stay away from her, talk about her and make assumptions about her too! A great book to teach students about how everyone can teach us something different! We love to make pipe cleaner glasses and become Odd Velvet for the day.

How to Lose All Your Friends

A perfect HOW TO to show children the flip side of being a friend. Six ways to lose friends and be lonely!
How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids

Filling each others buckets, each others’ invisible buckets. This is great for siblings and it relates to the classroom as the boy in the story realized that everyone has an invisible bucket. So many classroom lessons go with this book, including having our own classroom buckets filled with pompoms. A great reminder book for children to be kind and watch how they are talking to others.
The Golden Rule

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”  It is the classic rule that no only to children have to abide by but adult do too. A strong message for students, my students bring up “La Règle Dorée” up months later! It really hit them! The Berenstain Bears version is a little less “classic” but they are my childhood favorite so any book from their collection is great! (I find The BBears have too much writing and therefore too hard to translate-on-the-fly)

The Name Jar


Unhei, a new student from Korea, is torn about her Korean name. Debating on which American name best suits her,  others try to help her think of new names. Another book under the  “name” theme is Chrysanthemum which is mentioned below.

Can I Play Too? (An Elephant and Piggie Book)

Elephant and Piggie with their friend Snake try to play Catch! But snakes don’t have arms.. Students brainstorm ways to include others and think “outside the box” versus saying NO when others ask to play.

and and for the cutest thing you will ever see/hear!


Multi faceted book for the classroom and for this post: how one person can make a difference.

The Giving Tree

A classic that is always on the top books to read to children. The tree who gives everything of himself to the boy. This book has the underlying message of friendship that we end up having a huge conversation about as a class. A friendship needs two sides.. one that gives and takes: not just takes. We also veer off and talk about the environment and our forests as students are quite aware of “taking trees” and this conversation naturally come up every time!


There are judgmental friends at school when they find out their classmate’s name C-H-R-Y-S-A-N-T-H-E-M-U-M. Like a previous book mentioned, The Name Jar, C questions her name and has to deal with others who are unkind.

Chester’s Way

Chester is a habitual guy who has a best friend who just loves the same things. Until a new girl arrives in their neighborhood who is just so..different and out there! Although, she might not be so different after all.


Hunter’s Best Friend at School

Hunter has a best friend named Stripe. Hunter and Stripe love all the same things and do everything together. One day Stripe was not making the best choices at school and naturally Hunter wanted to do the same.. Do to making poor choices Hunter is now upset and lonely. Yet another great book featured in the Fin’s Friends program

Crazy Hair Day

A cute story of acceptance (after a bit) from peers when Stanley mixed up Crazy Hair Day with picture day! This is something that never fails in the classroom.. forget to dress up on a themed day or even on the wrong day! A great book to read at the beginning of the year (before any mishaps) so that students have time to reflect on how that would make them feel, therefore bring empathy in the case that it does to someone else (or themselves!)


How to Be a Friend: A Guide to Making Friends and Keeping Them

A How To guide on being a friend and dealing with other friendship issues. A harder “read aloud” but a  fun book to read together.


Without words, this story opens up discussion. I try not to narrate too much and really just listen to the student’s points of views as they depict the story themselves. A story that covers loneliness, bullying and friendship becomes emotional as you really feel for the boy.

Giraffe and Bird

Totally cute story of two `friends` who just cannot get along, they bug the living day out of each other…but apart are so sad and lonely. We talk about boundaries and bugging each other friendly-ly and not. The students are quite captivated by their friendship dynamic.

Friendship//Picture Books for primary aged children #madamedove

© 2017

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑