Hi friends! This blog is for teachers and families- all for the sheer joy of literacy. When we are enthusiastic about reading and writing our students and our own kids become excited to read and write. I hope that we all can be models for those in our care- how did you show your passion for reading, writing, learning, language, or words today?? It's in those small, daily moments that we teach kids to love literacy.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Goodness of Patricia Polacco's Books

Patricia Polacco has to be my all time favorite children's book author. I was introduced to her in my teaching credential program, and each year I discover that she has (yet another) book that is perfect to share with my students (and my toddler) for a myriad of reasons.

Reasons why I love her books:
1) Vocabulary: Her books are rich with challenging, beautiful, and imaginative vocabulary.
2) Her characters: My students (and admittedly, myself) connect to the struggles and hopes of her characters.
3) Perspective: She lived a great part of her life in urban Oakland (my home turf), and now lives on a farm in Ohio (or Michigan?).
4) Plot: She knows how to tell a good story.

Her books range from board books for babies to books for an elementary student or the young adult. And despite the diversity in subject matter and content of her books- all are high quality literature that I choose to read to my students time and time again.

Here are some of my favorites:
January's Sparrow is about a family fleeing Kentucky and heading for Michigan on the Underground Railroad. This book would be excellent for students in 4-8th grades. It is a picture book with amazing imagery, but the content is for more mature readers. I am currently reading this to several of my reading intervention groups at school- they beg for me to read it weekly. They love it. It's almost 100 pages, so it takes a bit of time to read it and to discuss historical background with the students.

I bought G is for Goat for my 1-yr-old! It is one of my favorite books to read her and has alliteration, rhyming, and an interesting plot. The plot is a bonus, because I don't expect a plot from an A-B-C book- but this one has good one (of course!).

In Chicken Sunday, a group of kids (including Patricia herself) learn a lesson about empathy and responsibility. I love that this book is set in Oakland. It also has a good message about respecting your elders, and working together as a community to make a positive impact on others. 

I read Thank You, Mr. Falker to my students at the beginning of every year. This book chronicles Patricia's struggle to learn how to read. My students, all struggling readers, identify with Patricia in the book. And I love that it brings them hope- that they will not always struggle with reading (and they may be an author just like Patricia someday!!). 

 The Keeping Quilt was the first book I was introduced to by Patricia Polacco. It tells the story of one quilt passed down generation after generation- revealing traditions and customs of Patricia's own Russian roots. This is an heartwarming story with strong themes of immigration and family.

 Who is your favorite children's book author?


  1. I read a lot of Patricia Polacco to Quinn during my times there. Also, another favorite was Jan Brett who has a great and generous web-site. Quinn's aunt made onesies for her with Jan Brett story characters on them from transfers provided on the website. They were a GREAT success.

  2. @ FE- Hello, hello! Yes, Jan Brett is great as well...I love her illustrations. I also love that she always writes about the natural world (animals, etc...). What's your favorite PP and JB book?

  3. I can't pick just one!

    For PP: Thunder Cake -- Tikva Means Hope -- Ginger & Petunia -- Thank You, Mr Falker.

    For JB: Hedgie's Surprise -- The Mitten -- The Umbrella -- Town Mouse, Country Mouse

    Even though she is way into chapter books we gave QEP The Twelve Days of Christmas (JB) this year. The illustrations are great for any age.

  4. I can't believe I forgot Thunder Cake! I love that book! I gave it to my mom for xmas last year (as a gma gift). Thanks for sharing FE!


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