[#pb10for10] Picture Books, Picture Books, Everywhere Are Picture Books

I heard about the 10 for 10 Picture Book event a few times today and finally, just now, realized I needed to get off of my tookus and add my own in.  Here are my 10 favorite, can’t-live-without picture books.

Poetry and Art
1. Life Doesn’t Frighten Me by Maya Angelou (art by Jean-Michele Basquiat)

Jean Michele Basquiat illustrates this poem by Angelou. The poem stands on its own as a strong mentor text for a variety of writer’s craft tools–my favorites are juxtaposition and repetition for effect, but is augmented beautifully by Basquiat’s art.  This is a great springboard for an artist study as well–and a possible model for a writing assignment linking a poem (existing or student-written) and the work of a particular artist.

2. Jabberwocky  by Lewis Carroll (art by Christopher Myers)

I imagine you might be sensing a theme already in the kind of picture books I’m drawn to. Again, Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll stands alone as a mentor text. I’ve used it often as a word study springboard. Add the art of Christopher Myers, and the link to the origins of the game of basketball and link to current athletes, and you’ve got a winner! I’ve used the author’s explanation of the book as a mentor text in middle grades in a variety of lessons.  The first two paragraphs give you a hint:

3. If by Sarah Perry and from the Getty Trust

A series of “What if’s” accompanied by gorgeous art.  Yes… I have a distinct style of favorite.

4. Imagine a Day by Sarah L. Thomson (art by Rob Gonzalves)

I used this book and others by Magic Realism artist Rob Gonsalves in lessons focused on incorporating Magic Realism in writing in class, in writing camp, and for my own writing.  I wrote about in this post here.


This book is new to me, but quickly earned a spot on my favorites list. I heard about it on the NPR show A Way With Words. Co-host Grant Barrett talked about how his son was comforted by the message in this biography that sometimes, as artists or wordsmiths, we have a vision in our mind and it is so difficult to get it on paper in a way that matches the image in our head, or the models we have seen in our lives.  That is a message our young writers need to hear.

6. Frida by Jonah Winter

This book also explores the idea of an artists mind while sharing biograpical information about Frida Kahlo.  I love the rich and colorful illustrations and the story of Frida’s childhood and how she turned to art to help her deal with her own health issues and pain.


Monsters and math? This book explores the math concepts of factoring and prime and composite numbers using monsters and bold illustrations. What more could you ask for? Here is an illustration from early in the book:

Hee hee.  Math and Steinbeck. That just speaks to me. THis books explores math by looking for patterns, symmetries, andnumber combinations and guides students through an inquiry into how math works.

Just Because–I just love the stories, illustrations, authors, concepts, and overall amazingness of both of these books.  This is just pure books love.

10. Albert by Donna Jo Napoli

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