Picture Book Brain

Sign up for the MEMBERSHIP 
cropped Header
start here icon
Start here
about me icon
Games icon
Book Lists
shop TPT store
membership button to click to join

A Picture Book A Day Challenge Week 2 Recap

A Picture Book A Day Challenge Week 2 large

2 weeks into my picture book a day challenge, and 11 weeks into my wife’s pregnancy.  The doctors tell us that we should be getting into the so-called second trimester in about a week.  I’m hoping it also means the end of my wife’s horrible morning sickness.  Whoever called it morning sickness had no idea what they were talking about.  It’s all day.  Even though I’m not experiencing the nausea and all of the other wonders of pregnancy, I am having to get more and more creative with keeping my wife’s spirits up.  One can only get sick so many times a day before the joy of pregnancy wears off.  That where my picture book a day selections came in this week!

Each one of the books this week I chose with the special purpose of trying to bring a little cheer to my wife.  I think your kids will like them too.  Here I’ll recap the books I read this week and the grade levels I think they would be most appropriate to.  Honestly, though, depending on your questioning and support, any picture book could work for any grade level.  Most of these books are also great bilingual read alouds or Spanish read alouds for dual language bilingual classrooms!

There are affiliate links in many of the posts on this site. This means your purchase supports myself, my business, and my family when you click through to buy – at no additional cost to you.

The Three Little Javelinas

Book 8: The Three Little Javelinas by Susan Lowell (Available in Spanish)

If you’re a fan of fractured fairy tales, this book is excellent.  It closely follows the 3 Little Pigs fairy tale, but with the Southwest feel.  It’s a book that I love to use for teaching the importance of setting on the events and characters in a story.  There are no wolves in the desert, only coyotes.  There are no sticks in the desert, only cactus ribs.  A fun writing extension activity that I like to do is have students create their own 3 Little Pigs version but set in a different place or time to see if they can apply the idea that setting can determine a lot in a story.  This book is great for those middle elementary grades 2-4.

I chose this one because I am planning on speaking only Spanish to our child while she speaks English.  She was feeling a little overwhelmed about that, and this book is bilingual with English on top and Spanish on the bottom.  She’s still worried that she’s not going to be able to understand what I’m saying to our child, but that seemed to help a little bit.

Check out the full lesson plan and activities HERE

Sea Horse the Shyest Fish in the Sea

Book 9: Sea Horse – The Shyest Fish in the Sea by Chris Butterworth

Did you know that sea horses are the only animal where the male gives birth?  I didn’t either until I read this book.  That’s what I’m wishing I could do at this moment with how my wife is suffering through this pregnancy.  The illustrations in this story were what made me pick up this book.  They’re stunning, so detailed. At indoor recess this week, I had kids trying to draw the seahorses in this book.

The information in the book, though, is what made me read the whole book.  Chris Butterworth teaches the life cycle of the seahorse, making it a great book for teaching sequencing vocabulary.  This is a book that I could see reading to kids as young as first grade all the way up to fourth grade again depending on the questioning and detail you go into.  Unfortunately this book is only available in English at the moment.

Check out the full lesson plan and activities HERE

The Great Paper Caper

Book 10: The Great Paper Caper by Oliver Jeffers (Available in Spanish)

Oliver Jeffers.  How do I even begin to describe this man’s writing?  It’ll make you laugh out loud but still have something profound to teach.  The premise is always simple, but the word choice will challenge even your avid readers.  His use of parody with the words saying one thing but the pictures generally showing another ratchets up the reading level, but it will delight even your most reluctant reader.

This story is no different.  You can teach the caper/crime genre and all of the rich vocabulary that goes along with it: detective, clues, alibi, eyewitness.  But your kids can connect to it EASILY.  It tells the story of how animals start to notice their branches and trees disappearing.  It turns out to be a bear who is trying to live up to the expectations of his family and win the annual paper airplane competition.  Kids as young as Kindergarten will love this story, but can challenge kids up through fifth grade the more you focus on the genre.  Another thing I love about Oliver Jeffers?  Almost all of his books are in Spanish!  The title of this book is El misterioso caso del oso in Spanish.

Check out the full lesson plan and activities HERE

The Night Gardener

Book 11: The Night Gardener by the Fan Brothers (Available in Spanish)

Last week I wrote about how I read The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater and the Fan Brothers.  The illustrations were STUNNING.  Well, I searched and found this book The Night Gardener.  The illustrations are no less eye-catching in this story.  The story, while fantastical, may perhaps be more relatable than The Antlered Ship.  It tells the story of an orphan boy William who is depressed from the loss of his parents (we see a picture of them on one page).

One day, though, a mysterious man known as the Night Gardener with his beautiful sculpted tree topiaries begins to change not only William, but his whole neighborhood of Grimloch Avenue.  Where once everyone kept to themselves, by the end of the story, they are celebrating the topiaries and their new, beautiful neighborhood as a community.  A great book for your unit on community or wonder and seeing how one person can make a huge difference.

Great for grades 1-4, and it’s available in Spanish as El Jardinero Nocturno!  Check out the full lesson plan and activities HERE

Lillian's Right to Vote

Book 12: Lillian’s Right to Vote by Jonah Winter

Between this week and last week I’ve realized that I’m a big fan of Jeanette and Jonah Winter’s biographies.  This book tells the story of Lillian Austin’s long climb to finally gaining the right to vote.  Great for teaching the history of voting rights in the United States or for Black History Month.  Jonah Winter uses the hill that Lillian had to climb to get to her voting place as a symbol for the long climb that both women and African Americans had to climb to gain the right to vote.  An activity that I used for teaching this book was timelines.  This story showed the changes in voting rights throughout the years so clearly that the timeline was a perfect activity for this book.

This book was one that one of my students recommended after I told them that I was doing this Picture Book a Day Challenge.  As of this writing, it will soon be election day, and this book is a very compelling read for upper elementary grades 3-5.

Check out the full lesson plan and activities HERE

Nasreen's Secret School

Book 13: Nasreen’s Secret School by Jeanette Winter (Available in Spanish)

Speaking of the Winters.  This book is from Jonah Winter’s mom Jeanette Winter, and would go along well with her other Middle East biographies Malala and Iqbal and The Librarian of Basra.  It tells the story of the secret schools in Afghanistan for girls.  Though it is a true story, the name Nasreen is fictitious to protect the safety of the girl it references.  The story talks about how the Taliban forbids girls from attending school.

Though this idea may be difficult for students to connect to, it is great for trauma-sensitive education.  The girl Nasreen loses both her mother and father and does not speak for a very long time.  She finally talks again after she makes a friend and sees the power of both friendship and education as a way to change her life.

This book is most appropriate for upper elementary grades 3-5.  I love most, though, that it’s also available in Spanish under the title La escuela secreta de Nasreen.

Check out the full lesson plan and activities HERE

Chicken Sunday

Book 14: Chicken Sunday by Patricia Polacco (Available in Spanish)

This final book that I read this week is completely packed with details.  It tells the story of a group of neighborhood kids who are like family who work together to buy a hat for their grandmother.  Go a little deeper and you get into a diverse neighborhood with Ukrainian Easter eggs and a Baptist church.  Go a little deeper still and you see a man who was a concentration camp survivor.  Patricia Polacco’s stories are so rich in vocabulary and descriptive language like Miss Eula’s voice like “slow thunder and sweet rain.”

An activity that I worked on with my kids with this book was identifying theme.  With the multiple layers of this story you can get a great variety of ideas for theme and supporting evidence.  With the complexity of this story, it would be best appreciated in grades 3-5, but could be used in second grade as well with more support.  It’s also available in Spanish as El pollo de los domingos.

Check out the full lesson plan and activities HERE

A Picture Book A Day Challenge Week 2

Great Books From The Facebook Page

I’ve really liked seeing people’s comments with the picture books that they’re reading. You can take a look on my Facebook Page.

Here are some of them:

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams

Gobble It Up!  A Fun Song About Eating by Jim Arnosky (I really want to find this book!)

What picture book are you reading?

P.S. Look for more freebies next week and every week in my Sunday email! Check out my Facebook and Instagram for hints as to what book the freebie may be from next week!

If you’re not signed up for my Sunday emails, you’re missing out!  I’m sending weekly freebies during my Picture Book a Day Challenge.  This week’s freebie was a whole week of lessons and activities for The Great Paper Caper / El misterioso caso del oso by Oliver Jeffers in English and Spanish because I think everyone should read more awesome books.  Sign up below!

Share with a Colleague:

Other Posts You Might Like:

Picture Book Brain Logo

Hey there! I’m Josh from Picture Book Brain here to share only the best literature for you to use with your students. If you are looking for a specific book, use the search bar below to check my archives. Glad you’re here, and glad to help you!

find what you need

become a member

find books you need

Get free training

Have a question?

membership info