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A Picture Book A Day Challenge Week 1 Recap

I’m one week into my 200 Days of a Picture Book a Day Challenge, and so far I’ve read some awesome picture books. My wife was really excited about it at first. I was sharing some of the books with her. She was hearing some interesting stories about animals and strong women. What was not to like? We literally have each of those as categories on our Netflix.

Then on Wednesday I started getting some grumblings. Apparently having 10 picture books stacked up on the kitchen table is “too many” and “we have company this weekend.” That was precisely my thinking, though! My wife’s friend who is also pregnant is visiting us, and I wanted to share some of the books with her. Who doesn’t like picture books?!

Well, I had to find a place to store my pile of books along with my flip flops that I refuse to stop wearing. No snow, no shoes!

200 Picture Books in 200 Days?

Before I forget, why am I reading a picture book a day in 200 days?  I’m going to be a DAD in about 200 days!  Now, I love me some picture books, but I want to become a picture book expert in that time.  I know a lot of books for younger grade kids because I taught first grade for so many years.

Being a dad, though, I’m going to need to know books for kids that are even smaller.  Also, having switched up to fourth grade, I don’t know many books for upper grade students yet.

I’m posting pictures of what books I’m reading every day on my Facebook page, and people are commenting with what book they’re reading that day.  People have shared some really cool books already.  I’ll get to that later, though.

Let’s take a look at some of the books I read this week!

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 Antlered Ship

Book 1: The Antlered Ship by Dashka Slater and the Fan Brothers

They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but the cover art by the Fan Brothers really drew me in.  The story was about a fox who suddenly found himself with many questions when an antlered ship carrying other animals came to his land.  The animals were lost trying to find an island.

He decided to sail with them to try to find some answers to his questions.  The antlered ship found the island despite some difficulties, but the fox did not find the answers he was looking for.  He did learn, though, that sometimes the journey is more important than the destination.

Honestly, in addition to the captivating illustrations, the word choice in this story was really excellent.  A great opportunity for inferring word meaning and talking about how friends can make any journey better.

With my students I might say that we’re all locked in this ship together, and it will be SO MUCH BETTER if we’re all friends like they were on the Antlered Ship.  This is one I might read at back to school or at that time at the end of winter when my kids all start to get snippy with each other.  Usually this happens around February.  We’ve had a lot of indoor recesses because it’s too cold to go outside for recess, and it just feels like the second half of a road trip.  The newness of the road trip is over and people are starting to get tired of each other because they’ve been locked in a car together for hours.

Check out the full lesson plan and activities HERE

Brothers in Hope

Book 2: Brothers In Hope by Mary Williams and R. Gregory Christie

Now, I’m a dual language teacher.  Half of my students come from Spanish-speaking homes and the other half come from English-speaking homes.  My instruction is split this year half English and half Spanish.  One month I teach Spanish literacy and the next I teach English literacy.

Sometimes I see my grade level teammates who only teach in English reading really cool books that are only available in English.  This book was one of those books, and it sounded like a really powerful story.  I decided I wanted this one to be my next book to see if it was something I could read to my students.

It tells a really harrowing story of the Lost Boys of Sudan who trekked thousands of miles from Sudan to Ethiopia and then to Kenya to escape war in Sudan.  This book is excellent for upper elementary as part of a nonfiction unit especially if you are learning about community, perseverance or problem-solving.

Check out the full lesson plan and activities HERE

Shark Lady
My 55lb lap dog Luna wanted to read this one with me

Book 3: Shark Lady by Jess Keating

I said at the beginning of this post that I had read a bunch of books about strong women and animals but not a single book up until now has been about animals or strong women.  Well this book covers both.

It tells the true story of Eugenie Clark referred to as the Shark Lady.  Despite being told since she was a girl that she not only shouldn’t be a scientist but COULDN’T be a scientist, she persevered and became one of the most renowned marine biologists in the world.

I love this book because it shows girls that they can do and be anything that they want even if people say that it’s not girly or that it’s for boys.  It is more of a nonfiction version of Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola where the boys make fun of the boy for liking “girly” things.

When I read either of those stories, I tell a story from my own childhood when a girl told me that drawing was stupid.  I kept drawing anyway because it was what I liked.  Telling that story in a context that they really could connect with really drives the lesson home, and kids remember it.

Check out the full lesson plan and activities HERE

Four Feet Two Sandals

Book 4: Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed

I’ll admit, I grabbed this book because it had sandals in the title.  I love sandals.  I read the book, though, and though it may be difficult for kids to connect to, it’s truly touching.  Two girls are living in a refugee camp in Pakistan.  They have not worn shoes in years.  A relief worker delivers clothes and each girl is only able to grab a single sandal.

The girls become friends and decide to take turns wearing the sandals.  One day, one of the girls finds out that she is going to America for asylum.  The girls decide to each keep one sandal to remember each other until they meet again in America.

I would probably ask students if they have ever had to share something with a friend before reading this story.  Not wearing shoes for years is something that most kids would not be able to relate to, so they need something more concrete to be able to connect to.

Check out the full lesson plan and activities HERE


Book 5: Encounter by Jane Yolen and David Shannon (Available in Spanish)

If you teach upper elementary, this picture book is a great way to introduce the importance of perspective when studying history.  It tells the story of Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of the Americas.

It’s told from the point of view of one of the Taino children.  He tries to warn his people, but they welcome Columbus and the Spanish.  It ends with a somber message.  The boy is grown and all of his people are gone or have adopted the ways of the intruders.

Many students will “know” about Christopher Columbus, but this shows them how they need to remember that there are two sides to history.  Usually they learn about what happened from the winners.  David Shannon’s illustrations are perfect for analyzing illustrations and their connection to the text.  Jane Yolen’s language is so rich with its use of similes, metaphors and personification.

An amazing book cover to cover.  Check out the full lesson plan and activities HERE

The Librarian of Basra

Book 6: The Librarian of Basra by Jeanette Winter (Available in Spanish)

I read this book on the recommendation of my school library assistant who was re-shelving it.  She’s been helping me find books to read for this challenge.

It tells the true story of Alia Muhammad Baker who was the librarian of the central library of Basra.  In 2003 when war came to Iraq, she moved as many of the the books as she could to her home with the help of her friends.  She did all of this to protect the books despite being told not to move the books.  At the end of the story it says that she is waiting for the war to end and for a new library to be built.

This book is great for teaching kids how it’s important to follow your heart and do what’s right even if it’s hard or scary.

Check out the full lesson plan and activities HERE


Book 7: Stellaluna by Janell Cannon (Available in Spanish)

The final book that I read this week was Stellaluna. It’s one of my all time favorite Halloween read alouds.  This book is an absolute classic.  I would almost call it a fractured fairytale or alternative fairytale with its similarities to The Ugly Duckling.

Stellaluna is a baby fruit bat when she is separated from her mother.  She lives with a family of birds and is forced to adapt to life as a bird.  She eventually learns to fly like her bird brothers and sisters, but she meets a group of bats.  The bats tell her that she is doing things all wrong and finds that adapting to living with the bats is much easier than adapting to bird life.

She introduces both her bird family and bat family, and they realize that even though they’re both really different, they’re still really similar.

If you want a lesson and activities in English and Spanish for this book, sign up below!

Check out the full lesson plan and activities HERE

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 Salamander Room by Anne Mazer

Rainbow Fish and the Big Blue Whale by Marcus Pfister

Memoirs of a Hamster by Devin Scillian

The Itchy Book by LeUyen Pham

I Am a Unicorn by Michaela Schuett

Planting the Wild Garden by Kathryn Galbraith

From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer

What picture book are you reading?

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

Looking for more information about doing a Picture Book a Day Challenge?

Check out Heise Reads for more information about A Picture Book a Day! She has tons of information about the benefits and the reasons why to read a picture book a day with your students.

Feeling inspired to try a Picture Book a Day yourself?

Check out my curated lists of books about HUNDREDS of topics HERE

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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!

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