I have cheated a bit with my list though. I feel like that person who hops on the express lane at the grocery store arguing that they are not really over the # of items. If I use other works by an author, I add the titles, but don't count them toward the ten. So, in no particular order:
1. Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson. Penguin Group (USA) September, 2005.
When I read this one aloud to students in grade 4 through grade 8, it was pin-drop quiet. Invariably, someone in each class asked, "Is this a true story?" I was thrilled when Jacqueline Woodson won a Newbery Honor for it, but was also hoping that Hudson Talbot got some Caldecott love for the stunning illustrations.
This book and one other inspired me to create an Underground Railroad web quest and I hooked the fourth grade social studies teacher into a collaboration. A language arts teacher could use it to focus on a unit of family lore or memoir.
2. Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems. Hyperion Books for Children, Sept. 2004.
Nearly everyone has a lost comfort object story, whether it be their own or a sibling. What an effortless story prompt this one is. Eagle-eyed listeners will look for pigeon. Pigeon? Well, perhaps I should have led off with Willems' first picture book foray, which also won him his first Caldecott Honor (note the medal on Knuffle Bunny). Knuffle Bunny, Too is equally hysterical and I hear that the final installment in the Knuffle Bunny saga is due out soon and is sure to cause a few cases of weepies.
Pigeon is irrepressible, whether he's asking to drive the bus, avoiding sharing a hot dog, avoiding going to sleep or begging for a puppy. A great story prompt after reading this one is, "Don't Let the Pigeon..." and have the students create a scenario. I believe it was Judy Freeman who suggested this activity.3. Duck for President by Doreen Cronen, illustrated by Betsy Lewin. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2004.
This book has an immediate social studies connection and is a must-have for any unit on the electoral process. It's also a hysterical introduction to the concept of allusion and so has a language arts connection as well. I was able to find the photographs alluded to in the book pretty easily on the web. I also modeled attribution when using these found images.
This isn't the first Duck book, however. That would be Click, Clack Moo, Cows That Type and that one illustrates the union movement beautifully.
4. And the Dish Ran Away with the Spoon by Janet Stevens, illustrated by Susan Stevens Crummel. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May, 2001.
Review nursery rhymes and fairy tales with middle grade and middle school students with this fun, fun story in which the dish and spoon fail to return after running away. The cat, dog and cow search high and low for them from Little Miss Muffet to Humpty Dumpty.
The Great Fuzz Frenzy by Janet Stevens and Susan Stevens Crummel. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, September, 2005.
Alliteration, the law of supply and demand and a highly entertaining view of "mob mentality."
5. Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson. Scholastic Inc., January, 2007.
The gut-wrenching sadness of Henry Brown is achingly conveyed through Kadir Nelson's gorgeous art. This is another book that inspires pin-drop quiet and can be used as an introduction to a unit on the Underground Railroad.
6. Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey. Scholastic Inc., October, 1990.
This adaptation of Clement Moore's poem isn't perfect, but it sure is fun. There's slapstick and visual humor and allusion, some of which may need to explained to popular culture and high art. Where else can you get a mild dig at McDonalds along with references to some of the kings of slapstick and Starry Night?
7. John, Paul, George & Ben by Lane Smith. Hyperion Books for Children, April, 2006.
Some more history with hilarity, this time by the formidable Lane Smith, with allusions to the Beatles! Crank up your iTunes to share some of the songs.
8. An Interview with Harry the Tarantula by Leigh Ann Tyson, illustrated by Henrik Drescher. National Geographic Society, August, 2003.
Read this hilarious but informative book to challenge students to spice up the dreaded insect/ animal report by setting up an interview with a pair of predator and prey.
9. For Liberty: the Story of the Boston Massacre by Timothy Decker. Boyds Mills Press, September 2009.
This stunning and riveting account of the events leading up to the Boston Massacre was the inspiration for a project-based assignment in seventh grade social studies.
10. The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, September, 2009.
I absolutely adore this luscious, wordless "retelling" of the Aesop fable, The Lion and the Mouse and so rooted for Jerry Pinkney to finally, finally nab the Caldecott Medal. Using wordless picture books in the language arts or ESL classroom is a great way to help students practice narrative writing.