Picture Books

The Chicken Who Couldn't by Jan Thomas, 2020

Self-esteem, self-reliance, humor, farm animals

It has not been a good day for Chicken. He went to the fair with Farmer, but didn’t win even one ribbon. And on the way home, the road is so bumpy that Farmer’s truck knocks Chicken right out! He’s been left behind! It’s the end for Chicken. Surely, he can’t walk all the way home. Or avoid the hungry fox along the way. Or maybe…he can?

Lesson Ideas:

Activities about the life cycle of chickens

Hen to Home lesson plan 

Authors website

Lesson Plan from Publisher

Read Aloud (YouTube)

​​Read Alikes:

You Are (Not) Small - Anna Kang

We Will Rock Our Classmates - Ryan T. Higgins

Piggy Bunny – Rachel Vail

A Little Chicken – Tammi Sauer

​Shirley's Lesson Ideas:  How can the chicken get back to the farm?, How can the chicken get out of the hole?  Come up with slogan words that would describe you in positive words (3-5 words).

Cow Boy is not a Cowboy by Gregory Barrington, 2020

 Friendship, goats, cowboys, cows    

Goat Girl--an adventurous goat--lives on Humdrum Farm, a place where everything is ordinary, and she's looking for some excitement. When she meets Merle--a bull--she mistakes him for a cowboy since he's both a cow and a boy. Cowboys aren't ordinary so Goat Girl can't wait to introduce herself. "HOWDY COWBOY!" An annoyed Merle insists he's not a cowboy. But will this not-a-cowboy change his mind when his rootin'-tootin' dream has a chance to come true?

esson Ideas:

Cowboy Activities (Teacher Pay Teachers)

Activity from Publisher

Coloring Sheets for Merle and Goat Girl

Behind the Scene Advice from the Author

Awards: Colorado Book Award Winner


    Cowboy Slim – Julie DennebergAw

    Moo – David LaROchelle

     Cowy Cow – Christopher Raschka

     Cows – Jon S. Hutton

     Cows – Kate Riggs

Shirley's Lesson Ideas: How could you persuade Merle to be brave and take action?  Describe this story in one word.

Eat Pete! by Michael Rex 2018

Monsters, hunger, play

Pete couldn't be more thrilled when a monster shows up in his bedroom. Now Pete has someone to play with! And the hungry monster couldn't be more thrilled to be there, either. Now he can . . . EAT PETE!  But Pete has other ideas. And they are all good fun and quite distracting--things like playing cars and pirates. Well, we all know the course of playing together nicely never did run smoothly. So how much longer will the monster have to wait before he can . . . EAT PETE?

​Lesson Ideas: 

Teachers Pay Teachers Activities ($)

Don't Eat Pete Game Printable

​Missouri Book Awards Activities

Story Map Lesson

Michael Rex website

Eat Pete Puppet

Read Aloud (SchoolTube)


We Don’t Eat Our Classmates – Ryan T. Higgins   

Leonardo the Terrible Monster  - Mo Willems

Go to Bed Monster – Natasha Wing

I Just Ate My Friend – Heidi McKinnon

I Will Not Eat You – Adam Lehrhaupta

Quit Calling Me a Monster – Jory John

A Splendid Friend, Indeed – Suzanne Horn

I Need My Monster – Amanda Noll

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, 2021

Self-confidence, family, body positive, physical appearance

A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers'. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother’s, her grandmother's, and her little sister's. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future.

​Lesson Ideas:   

Inspire Me ASAP Lesson Plan

Literature Guide

Teachers Pay Teachers Lessons ($)

Lesson Plans and Activities from Clutter Free Classroom

Discussion Questions and Extension Activities from the Publisher

​Another Activity from the Publisher

Educators Guide

Resources from The Classroom Bookshelf

Authors Website

Read Aloud (YouTube)

Read Across America Lesson Ideas

Shirley's Lesson Ideas: Come up with two (or more) metaphors and two (or more) similes that describe a part of you that can be seen.

Fill in the blanks with your own descriptive word (s):

Eyes sparkling like_______.

Eyes That  ______in the corners and glow like_________.

Eyes filled________.

Sister's eyes gazing up like___________.

Eyes crinkle into _______________.  

Change "eyes" to fingers, nose, mouth, ears.


Golden Kite Award for Picture Book Text 

ALSC Notable Children’s Books 1995-2015

CCBC Choice Award

Charlotte Zolotow Award

SLJ Best Book of the Year 2021

California Golden Poppy Award 2021

Chicago Public Library Best Picture Book 2021

Kirkus Best Book 2021


Eyes That Speak to the Stars – Joanna Ho

Where Are You From? – Yamile Saied Mendez

Shine Bright – Kheris Rogers

Black Gold – Laura Obuobi

Laxmi’s Mooch – Shelly Anand

I Am Everything Good – Derrick Barnes

I Am Golden – Eva Chen

Looking for Smile by Ellen Tarlow, 2020

Bears, smiles/smiling, lost and found

Waking up one morning to discover that the smile which has always been with him is nowhere to be found, Bear enlists the help of his woodland friends to recover his smile again.

Lesson Ideas: 

Publisher Website

Smile Activities

​Read Aloud (YouTube)

Feeling Cards

Book Journey

Illustrator website


Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year selection title We Found a H

Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading Elementary Book Award reading list


Velveteen Rabbit – Margary Williams

Come Home Already – Jory John

Wintercake – Lynne Rae Perkins

Henry & Leo – Pamela Zagarenski

We Found a Hat – Jon Klassen

Magnificent Homespun Brown: a Celebration by Samra Cole Coyon 2020

Self-confidence, , self-esteem, human skin color, family life

Magnificent Homespun Brown is a song, a poem and a celebration about feeling at home in one’s own beloved skin; celebration of the love of family and oneself.

​Lesson Ideas:

Teaching Books

Teachers Pay Teachers ($)

Teaching Guide

Coretta Scott King Discussion Guide (see page 10)

Making Self-Portraits

Shirley's lesson ideas: What color are your eyes?  compare to an inanimate object.  Describe your lashes, compare to an inanimate object.  Describe your hair, compare to an inanimate object.  Describe your skin, compare to an inanimate object.  Describe two non-physical things about you and compare to inanimate objects.  Draw the blocks of a quilt; in each block share a memory of someone in your family - parent(s), sibling(s), grandparents, uncles/aunts, cousins or share good memories of you with important people in your life if not your relatives.


Coretta Scott King 2021 Honoree

ILA 2021 Children’s & Young Adults’ Book Awards winner

NCSS 2021 Notable Social Studies book

Maine Lupine Award winner

CBC Recommended book

SLJ Best Book of the Year

New York Public Library Best Picture Book 2021


Magic Like That – Samara Cole Doyon

Skin Like Mine – Latashia M. Perry

I Am Brown – Ashok Banker

Black is a Rainbow Color – Angela Joy

I Am Everything Good – Derrick Barnes

Shades of People – Shelley Rotner

I Am Enough – Grace Byers

Colors of Us – Karen Katz

We’re Different, We’re the Same – Bobbi Jane Kates

Amazing Faces – Lee Bennett Hopkins

A Girl Like Me – Angela Johnson

I Am Brown – Ashok Banker

Eyes That Kiss in the Corners – Joanne Ho

Sulwe – Lupita Nyong’o

Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor 2021

Flying, self-confidence, baby birds, flight

Turn the book sideways and upside down to follow courageous kingfisher Mel on her journey from downward fall to triumphant flight in this tale of self-confidence and taking a leap of faith in learning how to fly without help.

Lesson Ideas:

Author website

Teachers Pay Teachers ($)

Activities from Publisher

Teaching Books

Read Aloud (YouTube)

Meet The Illustrator

Shirley's Lesson ideas:  Compare to "Flight School" by Lita Judge and/or "Calvin Can't Fly by Jennifer Berne, who else could help Mel?


  Caldecott Honor Book 2022

  Barnes & Noble Children & Young Adult Shortlist honoree

  ALA Notable Book of the Year

  Vermont Red Clover Book Award nominee

  New Hampshire Ladybug Award nominee 2022

  Geisel Award winner

  Publishers’ Weekly Best Books 2021


Bluebird – Lindsey Yankey

Egg Drop  - Mini Grey

Wings – Cheryl B. Klein

The Bird That Couldn’t Fly – Raquel Arrechea

My Brother the Duck – Pat Zietlow Miller

A Round of Robins – Katie Hesterman

 Flight School – Lita Judge

Sugar in Milk by Thrity N. Umrigar 2020

Family, culture, India, folklore, immigration, Social Studies

 Loneliness engulfs a young girl in her new life in America, where a loving aunt and uncle do little to dispel her homesickness. One day, her aunt tells her a folktale about Persians forced from their homeland seeking refuge in India. The Indian king, hesitant to host foreigners, pours a glass of milk and fills it to the brim to indicate that his kingdom is full. Disappointment ripples through the weary travelers. But their clever leader adds a spoonful of sugar to the glass and mixes it without spilling a drop, silently conveying the message that "just like sugar in milk, we will sweeten your lives with our presence." Having won over the king, the travelers, known as Parsis, are welcomed to their new home. 

​Lesson Ideas:

Teaching Books Story Map

Teaching Books Cultural Map

YouTube Video on Book

Summary of book and tags

Parsi's Folklore

Shirley's Lesson idea:  What is a folk tale?  Where is Persia? What is the country called now?  Tell/share a folk tale from your culture- written or aloud.  Sugar = Persians, Milk = Indians (mixed together, the sugar dissolves to become one and enriches the "country/mixture".


ALSC Notable Children’s Book of 2021

Kirkus Best Books of 2020

SLJ Best Books of 2020

Ohioana Book Award 2021

Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Award 2022


The Day Saida Arrived – Susana Gomez Redondo

What is a Refugee? – Elise Gravel

Marwan’s Journey – Patricia de Arias

Here I Am – Patti Kim

From Far Away – Robert Munsch

I’m New Here – Annie Sibley O’Brien

This is a Taco! by Andrew Cangelose 2018

 Squirrel, tacos. humor

Taco the squirrel agrees to be in a book only because he was promised tacos, but when the story displeases him he simply rewrites it--with tacos.

Lesson Ideas:

Reading Rumpus Lesson Ideas

Read Aloud (YouTube)

Lesson Plan

Shirley's Lesson Ideas:  Why does the squirrel say his name is Taco?  If you were to change your name to your favorite food, what would your new name be?  The story is fiction, but has facts in it:  Squirrels are some of the cleanest rodents in the wild. Squirrels have silky, soft fur squirrels eat nuts, acorns and bark.  Flying squirrels can glide through the air for over 150 feet.  Prairie dogs eat garbage because they love the taste.  Prairie dogs can pack large amounts of food into their cheeks to take back to their homes.  Prairie dogs can rotate their ankles completely backwards.  Prairie dogs can climb in any direction.  Prairie dogs are great climbers and can jump from branches.  Hawks are natural predators.  Hawks are great eaters; they can eat their body weight of food in a week.  Compare to "Chester" by Melanie Watt; Chester uses his red marker to change his story.


ILA Children’s Choices Reading List 2015-2020


Dragons Love Tacos – Adam Rubin

The Three Pigs – David Wiesner

Z is for Moose – Kelly Bingham

Chester – Melanie Watt

This is a Birthday Cake – Andrew Cangelose

This is a Whoopsie – Andrew Cangelose

We Disagree by Bethanie Deeney Murguia 2020

Mice, squirrels, friendship, quarreling

Mouse likes figs. Squirrel prefers twigs. Mouse likes blue and polka dots. Squirrel likes red and does not like spots. It seems that they disagree on everything! Is there any way they can be friends, despite their differences?

​ ​Lesson Ideas:

Five Ways to Handle Disagreements

Author website

Shirley's lesson ideas:  Divide paper on both sides into six (or less or more) squares. Label each square with a favorite: color, fruit, animal, musical instrument, stripes or dots, vegetables, etc.  Students fill in both sides- one for likes, other for dislikes; students then find others who have some likes/dislikes.  


Beware – Bob Raczka

Duck, Duck, Porcupine – Salina Yoon

Rabbit’s Bad Habits – Julian Gough

Too Many Carrots – Katy Hudson

Friends Forever – Derek Anderson

Without You – Genevieve Cote

Clark and Shark – Bruce Hale

Hedgehog Needs a Hug – Jen Betton

Pigs Make Me Sneeze – Mo Willems