An Autobiographical Account of a Penny

One of my most memorable experiences as a student teacher came from a regular math routine early in the school year in a second grade classroom. Each day the class came together for a morning meeting and part of that routine included tracking the number of days we’ve been in school. They kept track of this number by writing the number, collecting colored dots on the tens frame and also by collecting coins that equaled the total number of days. On the first day the teachers put a penny underneath the document camera for the class to see. They asked the students, “What do you notice about this coin?” A young boy named Jack raised his hand and instead of describing the shape of the coin or the color of the coin, as we’d all expected, he gave the lengthy history of the coin. This experience was so important to me as a future teacher, you never know what to expect from kids and what knowledge they bring with them into the classroom if you don’t ask.

One Proud Penny by Randy Siegel is an awesome picture book that presents historically accurate information about the penny. It is narrated as an autobiographical account by a penny. It begins with information about when this penny was “born” and where, in 1983 in Philadelphia. Then continues on to explore the different uses of a penny, from providing exact change to spinning and flipping out of boredom or for fun.

One Proud Penny hints at the argument of whether pennies should be banned, one we explore in my 4th grade classroom during our argument and persuasive writing unit. It also highlights some important change over time (pun intended). For example, a penny used to be enough to buy ice cream or a newspaper, but that’s no longer the case.

One Proud Penny even details the difference in the composition of pennies when they were originally minted and today.

One Proud Penny is a wonderful tribute to the penny. A small yet durable coin that at times is a nuisance in our pockets or taking up lots of space in our wallet, and other times, helping us make exact change. The illustrations by Serge Bloch blend simple line drawings with actual images of pennies, in a way that adds to the comedic tone of the text. Together they create an informative and exciting informational book.

This is a must have book for any classroom and school library as well as any home collection of a kid who loves facts and information about money and coins. Click here to purchase a copy of One Proud Penny (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Mr. Tweed and the Band in Need

Mr. Tweed is back! This time he is at the zoo to see his favorite 10-piece band perform, but Wollo the walrus and band leader, can’t seem to find any of his band members.

Join Mr. Tweed and Wollo as they explore the different animal exhibits for their friends. The illustrations are bright, colorful and super detailed. For example, can you find the banjo playing jellyfish?

Mr. Tweed and the Band in Need is more than an amazing hidden images picture book. It incorporates counting, colors, and animal and instrument recognition. Each creature is hidden in its habitat, for example Jimmy Toots the toucan is hidden in the tall trees. Readers can use different clues on each page to help them find the missing band member. This book teaches children to look carefully at illustrations as they hunt for the tiniest of details.

Mr. Tweed and the Band in Need written and illustrated by Jim Stoten is an engaging and fun read. It teaches about the importance of collaboration and helping others in need. This book is making it on my go to list of books to give young readers as a gift.

Click here to purchase a copy of Mr. Tweed and the Band in Need (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


What George Forgot

What George Forgot by Kathy Wolff is a fantastically hilarious book about a young boy who is great at remembering things, but he can’t seem to shake the feeling that there is something important he’s forgotten. He replays his day, retracing all his steps in order to ensure that he’s remembered everything.

For example, he didn’t forget to eat breakfast. He also remembered to eat his pre-breakfast and post-breakfast snacks. Don’t worry, he also remembered to shave. Just kidding! He only shaves on Tuesdays.

As George prepares to leave his house, he still can’t seem to remember what he is forgetting. Can you help him figure this out?

What George Forgot has a overall tone of seriousness with so many funny lines tucked in that make this book a delight to read for kids and adults. The illustrations complement the story perfectly, helping the reader visualize each part of George’s morning routine. This book is an awesome addition to any home library and will undoubtedly be requested over and over again for story time.

Click here to purchase a copy of What George Forgot (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.



Finding the Perfect Spot to Read

A Place to Read by Leigh Hodgkinson is a special picture book about a boy looking for just the right place to read. It should be comfy, but not itchy, fuzzy or even stinky. The young boy is very excited to read his book. Somewhere free of distraction, where he can become fully immersed in reading. On each page, he describes the ideal reading location and gathers another friend who is also interested in hearing the story.

Ultimately the boy learns that it doesn’t matter where he reads, the best book is a story that is shared with others.

A Place to Read is a fantastic picture book for children ages 2-6. The main character loves reading and is so excited about settling down with his book. The illustrations are whimsical and imaginative. They capture the worlds that we are ofter transported to by a good book. It is reminiscent of The Good Little Book by Kyo Maclear and A Child of Books by Oliver Jeffers.

Click here to purchase a copy of A Place to Read (affiliate link).

For more books that promote a love of the act of reading click here!

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Dare to Imagine

In the last year or so there has been an explosion of picture books that encourage young readers to imagine and dream. This is a niche that I just can’t get enough of. As an upper elementary school teacher, I work with students ages 9-11, who are experts at being in school and knowing how to navigate the day and what is expected of them. It is only now that I have a one-year old daughter, and I see how much she learns through hands-on exploration and being genuinely wonder about things, that I start to ask, “How do we hold on to imagination and curiosity in kids as they get older and begin to navigate school and the education system?”

Imagine That! by Yasmeen Ismail is a terrific book about the imagination of childhood. Lila’s mother is preparing for a visit to Grandpa’s house. Little Lila seems very distracted, in reality she is very busy quietly imagining the different adventures.

For example, instead of putting on her shoes, she’s struggling to tame the fearsome octopus so that it will become her faithful pet. The contrast between what the mother bear sees, and what Lila imagines is portrayed by flawless watercolors. In the everyday version, the story is set in realistic setting, and Lila fumbles with her shoes under a table. The text consists of simple dialogue and short answers. In the pages that represent Lila’s imagination, color is everywhere, the text is written in delightful rhyme, and even the font dances across the pages.

The mother bear remains unaware of what Lila is actually doing. She is focused on getting her daughter safely to meet Grandpa.

It is Grandpa who takes the time to notice and ask Lila what she is doing. Though imagining alone is fun, having opportunities to be creative and involve others is even better.Will she find a companion to imagine along with?

Imagine That! is a great picture book for encouraging young children to imagine and playful. The energy and excitement are contagious. It teaches grown ups to also be aware of the power of imagination and to leave room for it despite our tendencies to want to remain on a schedule.

Click here to purchase a copy of Imagine That! (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

A Delightful Counting Picture Book

Counting with Barefoot Critters by Teagan White is a visually stunning picture book that infuses counting and numbers within the daily activities of a cast of forest creatures. It begins with a single fox enjoying solitary activities, including reading a good book in one’s own home. Once she finishes her story, it’s time to bake pancakes as a pair.

One page flows to the next with lovely rhymes, that prepare the reader to say the next number. The characters participate in a variety of outdoorsy activities that involve imagination and collaboration. They are inclusive and playful, all while having lots of fun. This is the perfect picture book for encouraging young kids to play with one another and to welcome others in their games and activities.

The story comes full circle, after a day of adventure fox returns home to her bed and has the opportunity to reflect on the events of the day.

Counting with Barefoot Critters is a about so much more than numbers, though that part I love too. It’s about making the most out of each day and being a positive, inspirational, good friend. This book teaches resilience, collaboration and independence simultaneously, all in a wonderful way!

Click here to purchase a copy of Counting with Barefoot Critters (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Building a Community Garden

Green Green: A Community Gardening Story by Marie Lamba and Baldev Lamba is a wonderful picture book for promoting environmental awareness for young readers ages 2-6. Written in simple, poetic form and accompanied by vibrant, dynamic illustrations, Green Green follows the transformation of the land and the way a group of community members work together to restore some elements of nature.

The story starts with a group of kids playing in an expansive field, filled with beautiful flowers and butterflies.

Gradually, the natural landscape evolves into a cityscape and the green and brown are replaced by browns and grays of digging and construction. The green in each scene is reduced to a small potted plant here and there or a solitary tree.

The members of the community see the potential for creating a community garden on a small plot of land. They work hard to remove litter and garbage to restore a small piece of nature among the hustle and bustle of the busy city.

Green Green is the perfect picture book for exposing young children to the concept of environmentalism and showing them some simple ways that they can feel empowered to make a difference. The illustrations by Sonia Sanchez are breathtakingly beautiful, subtle yet powerful. They bring the simple yet impactful text to life and give readers a lot to talk about.

Click here to purchase a copy of Green Green A Community Gardening Story (affiliate link).

*I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Wildlife Coloring Book

Wildlife: A Map Coloring Book by Natalie Hughes is the perfect gift for budding artists who love to learn about animals and different places in the world. Each map is jam-packed with different creatures that live in that particular part of the world as well as interesting facts about each. It would be fun to have kids compare and contrast the creatures they see across the pages and to draw bigger generalizations.

Wildlife is the perfect way to engage kids in learning about different species and places in the world. This book invites many great conversations about protecting the environment and the consequences of human actions on the well-being of Earth’s creatures.

Click here to purchase a copy of Wildlife: A Map Coloring Book (affiliate link).


A Wonderful Picture Book about Ramadan

Lailah’s Lunchbox is the perfect introduction to Ramadan for young students. Lailah is finally old enough to participate in fasting during Ramadan and she is very excited. Her mother writes a note to her teacher, Mrs. Penworth, explaining that Lailah should be excused from lunch in observation Ramadan. Lailah is worried that her teacher and classmates will think that she is strange for fasting or that they won’t know what Ramadan is, so she keeps the note to herself and acts as if she has forgotten her lunch. When her friend Anna offers to share her cream rolls with Lailah, she sits quietly and begins to second-guess her decision to fast.

Lailah asks to go to the library, where she confides in the librarian Mrs. Carman all that is on her mind. Together they come up with the perfect way for Lailah to open up to her teacher and to share with her all about Ramadan.

Lailah’s Lunchbox is a fantastic story based on Reem Faruqi’s own life experience moving to the United States and explaining what Ramadan is to classmates and friends in Peachtree City, Georgia. This story captures many different and important social issues, including moving somewhere new and different religions. This story emphasizes the humanity of the children and their experiences and promotes understanding and empathy of others.

Lailah’s Lunchbox is a must-have in every classroom library. It is the perfect read for kids ages 6-9. This year, Ramadan begins May 26 and lasts until June 25.

Click here to purchase a copy of Lailah’s Lunchbox (affiliate link).


Interactive Picture Books for Young Readers

I discovered Fly! by Xavier Deneux in the recent arrival section of our local public library branch. It is a stunning board book with movable pieces that complements the story perfectly. Bird arrives at the foot of a tree after a long journey. Time passes and a friend arrives and joins her in the tree. Together they build a nest and raise two baby chicks. Fly! is a sweet story perfect for the youngest of readers. The smallest of hands will enjoy manipulative and maneuvering the pieces from one page to the next in order to help the story develop.


Press Here by Herve Tullet is another delightful read. Follow the directions presented on each page to embark an adventure of fun and imagination. Begin by pressing a single yellow dot and on the next page discover two yellow dots. Press the dot again and now there are three! Press Here is a great read. Even as an adult I enjoyed reading it and seeing the cause and effect relationships that spanned the pages. Let’s Play! is the third book of the series and captures the same whimsy as the first two books with even more movement and unexpected outcomes.

Click here to purchase copies of Fly!, Press Here and Let’s Play! (affiliate links).