Must Have Picture Books-Skill Alignment!

I have a serious book addiction… it's one my hubs isn't too fond of, but has learned to love me anyways ;)

I am linking up with Deanna, from Mrs. Jump's Class, to share with you some books that I use in the beginning of the year, and tell you what I use them for!

I use these books in the first 2 months of school to introduce new skills. I love that they allow me to do a quick mini lesson on a skill in a whole class setting, and then extend the lesson in small groups! They are short enough to use for a mini lesson, but meaty enough to still be challenging and engaging for my fourthies!

This book is such a wonderful story that my students LOVE! There are SO many skills you can cover with this book. My favorite thing to do is teach about characterization and interaction. I found this amazing FREE pack last year, and loved the discussion questions for small group follow up and journaling. 

I'm sure many of you are familiar with this fun spin off of the traditional fairy tale. In 4th grade I use this to teach comparing points of view. We talk about how every story has two sides, and I always give an example of one of the kiddos in my class getting in a fight with their sibling, and telling their parent all about it. We talk about how each story would be different. I then give them this venn diagram (freebie) and create a large one on chart paper, and we read the story and compare points of view together. 

I found this book at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale last year, and knew just by the beautifully illustrated cover I had to have it! I was so excited when I found out that it was PERFECT to teach inferring. It is a wonderful book about a older man who is a loner and keeps to himself. He receives an unexpected surprise and Old Jake begins to change his ways. As we read, we talk about what "dialogue" is, and write down important dialogue from the book in our journals. I have them skip a few lines in between each. Then, I have students infer what the dialogue tells them about the character and write a few sentences explaining their inference. At the end, they write a journal entry about the character development of Jake, and relate it to a similar experience that they have had.

Another classic, this is always a HUGE hit with my kiddos! I usually use this book at the very beginning of the year as a character lesson about friendship, and also to teach about adjectives. Here's a great free lesson plan that has all sorts of activities and ideas for teaching this book that I always use. 

Another book that caught my eye immediately the first time I saw it, this book is simply amazing. I love the connection to history, and the beautiful illustrations. I use this to review questioning/predicting as we are reading, but also for other skills. I love this free lesson plan from Scholastic and use it each year. I am able to do a whole week's worth of activities with this book using these lessons!

I used this book for the first time last year, and immediately fell in love! Most of my students hadn't heard it before, and I loved how into the story they became. I also use this during the 2nd week of school to launch writer's workshop. I have a great freebie to guide you through how I do this available in my TPT store! Click here to download!

Those are just a few of my favorite books for the beginning of the year! The list goes on and on, but hopefully this gives you some good ideas for introducing skills and some great free resources. Head on over to Deanna's blog and link up! :)


  1. I love Enemy Pie too! They also have that on Storybook Online too! My kiddos always love to hear that book read to them!!


  2. Thank you for sharing! I just added Old Jake's Shirts to my Wishlist! What a wonderful list of books. :)

  3. What a great post! Thanks for sharing all the links and freebies!

  4. Happily, I found your June 10th post via the best little middle school librarian in Texas, Marcia Riebe! I wrote Old Jake's Skirts and am so delighted that you have found a creative use for it in your classroom. Thank you for leading children to it and for helping keep it alive. I just retired from teaching English and plan to write more children's books. Your wonderful post encourages me to get back to the writing a little faster. Best of luck in your literary and teaching endeavors, and I will definitely check back on your blog. Joy! from C. Anne Scott