The Author's Picks: Must-Read Books For Elementary Students
Are you looking for books to recommend to your elementary school students? Recently, Education World asked those in the know -- the authors of some of today's best-loved children's books -- to share their personal favorites with you. Whether the author's choices are fondly remembered childhood treasures or recently-discovered literary masterpieces, you and your students won't want to miss these hot picks for classroom reading! Included: Recommendations from authors Jane Yolen, Kenn Nesbitt, Jon Scieszka, and Linda Sue Park. Recently, the editors at Education World asked some of our favorite authors of children's books to share their reading highlights with you.
In response, Jane Yolen, Kenn Nesbitt, Jon Scieszka, and Linda Sue Park reveal their favorite books for elementary school children, discuss how they discovered those books, and explain each book's appeal to young readers. Who knows more, after all, about what will entertain children and motivate them to read than these literary experts?
Next week, Beverly Cleary, Jennifer Holm, Susan Katz, Lois Lowry, and Jean Craighead George share their best book picks for "young adult" readers.
Today, Yolen is herself the author of several books for children, including The Emperor and the Kite, a 1968 Caldecott Honor Book, and Owl Moon, the 1988 Caldecott winner. She still remembers The Red Fairy Book, however, and suggests that children check out the entire series of The Color Fairy Books edited by Andrew Lang.
"The stories come from all over the world, and they are filled with magic, wisdom and wonder," Yolen told Education World. "The drawings -- both in color and black-and-white -- are incredible too; they serve the magic of the stories well."
POETRY FOR KIDSChildren's poet Kenn Nesbitt is another author who knows what kids like; his latest book of poetry, The Aliens Have Landed!, features "kangaruplets," skunks in love, and antigravity machines! Another book Nesbitt encourages kids to read is Bubblegum Delicious by Canadian poet Dennis Lee.
"Whenever I'm in a bookstore I like to look through the children's poetry section to see what's new," said Nesbitt. "I was at a bookstore in Seattle, and found this collection that I had never seen before. I bought it, expecting it to be nothing special. Boy, was I ever wrong! It is an amazing book of children's poetry."
Nesbitt reports that this book is heartwarming, funny, and very well written. The poems range from bedtime lullabies to childhood fantasies to charming nonsense to humorous flights of fancy.
"This book literally had me laughing out loud on one page and crying on the next," Nesbitt stated. "Younger children will enjoy that it is mostly written from the world-view of a 4-year-old and is rich with lush, colorful illustrations. The poems include playful stories of hunting bad guys, whimsical daydreams of pollywogs in parachutes, tales of friendship and loneliness, and lots, lots more. If I could recommend only one book of poetry for younger children, this would be it."
THE BEST BOOK EVERAuthor Jon Scieszka, who has a special interest in finding excellent books that hold the attention of boys, reported that his "favorite children's book at the moment" is Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice, The Hidden Past by Jude Watson. The third book in a series of Star Wars tales, "The Hidden Past" is a paperback with a flashy cover -- "the familiar Star Wars logo in gold over a photo collage of two of the characters from the most recent movies," Scieszka explained. "The writing is workmanlike, the action heroic, and the dialogue brief. There are plenty of references to 'The Force,' and both an iron-on transfer picture and a mail-in book club offer are bound into the book."
The book, according to Scieszka, the author of the 1993 Caldecott Honor Book The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, Math Curse, and more, is not one he would ever have thought to buy and read. He did so, he said, because an 8-year-old boy wrote to him recommending it as "his best book ever."
"Ive been collecting just these kind of recommendations at my Web site GUYSREAD for about a year now," said Scieszka. "And I think the single most important thing Ive learned and remembered is that kids learn to read best by finding what they love to read. Heres to helping more kids find their 'best book ever'... no matter what it is."