This list was a challenge. What I particularly like is that there are themes and threads running through the list and that I think for our pupils it challenges perspectives and narratives. Every book is worthy of your time, but together I think they work really well. This is probably my favourite list of books so far because of that.
Small in the City by Sydney Smith
It can be a little scary to be small in a big city, but this child has some good advice for a very special friend in need.
When you’re small in the city, people don’t see you, and loud sounds can scare you, and knowing what to do is sometimes hard. But this little kid knows what it’s like, and knows the neighborhood. That makes for some pretty good advice for an even smaller friend.
Like, alleys can be good shortcuts, but some are too dark.
Or, there are lots of good hiding places in the city, like under a mulberry bush or up a walnut tree.
And, if the city is too loud and scary, a small one can always just go back home, where it’s safe and quiet.
In his first author-illustrated picture book, Sydney Smith tells a contemplative, quiet story from the perspective of a child.
Definitely my favourite picturebook of last year, quite possibly my favourite picturebook ever. Small in the City is a almost a detective story that warrants rereading and and exploring. It’s a perfect text for Year 3 as it explores a child’s perspective, the story is hidden in plain sight and there will be a moment when realisation hits, at that point re-exploration is key. A book made for discussion and exploration as well as ripe for acting as a writing stimuli due to the astounding art which places us firmly in the world from the child’s viewpoint. A perfect book.
The Oldest student by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and Oge Mora
Imagine learning to read at the age of 116! Discover the true story of Mary Walker, the nation’s oldest student who did just that, in this picture book from a Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator and a rising star author.
In 1848, Mary Walker was born into slavery. At age 15, she was freed, and by age 20, she was married and had her first child. By age 68, she had worked numerous jobs, including cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and selling sandwiches to raise money for her church. At 114, she was the last remaining member of her family. And at 116, she learned to read. From Rita Lorraine Hubbard and rising star Oge Mora comes the inspirational story of Mary Walker, a woman whose long life spanned from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, and who–with perseverance and dedication–proved that you’re never too old to learn.
An amazing story of an amazing life. The Oldest student spans 1848-1969 and is both a story of perserverance and the value and importance of education but it also a story of huge cultural change that still resonates now. Just placing the story in its historical context allows huge discussion. A stunning book about a stunning life.
Teacup Rebecca Young and Matt Ottley
A boy must leave his home and find another. He brings with him a teacup full of earth from the place where he grew up, and sets off to sea. Some days, the journey is peaceful, and the skies are cloudless and bright. Some days, storms threaten to overturn his boat. And some days, the smallest amount of hope grows into something glorious. At last, the boy finds land, but it doesn’t feel complete . . . until another traveler joins him, bearing the seed to build a new home.
Possibly the most beautiful book I own. Teacup is a gentle, thoughtful story of migration and the importance of home. It is about the importance of hope and is an important story for these times. The artwork by Matt Ottley is worth hours of explortaion and in is utterly inspiring in starting children writing and exploring language and vocabulary. A wonderful caress of a book that gets its message across with smacking you across the head with it.
The Ocean Calls by Tina Cho and Jess X Snow
A breathtaking picture book featuring a Korean girl and her haenyeo (free diving) grandmother about intergenerational bonds, finding courage in the face of fear, and connecting with our natural world.
Dayeon wants to be a haenyeo just like Grandma. The haenyeo dive off the coast of Jeju Island to pluck treasures from the sea–generations of Korean women have done so for centuries. To Dayeon, the haenyeo are as strong and graceful as mermaids. To give her strength, Dayeon eats Grandma’s abalone porridge. She practices holding her breath while they do the dishes. And when Grandma suits up for her next dive, Dayeon grabs her suit, flippers, and goggles. A scary memory of the sea keeps Dayeon clinging to the shore, but with Grandma’s guidance, Dayeon comes to appreciate the ocean’s many gifts.
Tina Cho’s The Ocean Calls, with luminous illustrations by muralist Jess X. Snow, is a classic in the making.
A truly wonderful inter-generational story about overcoming fears and and embracing the natural world. The vibrant art jumps from the page. Brilliant for exploring and understanding other cultures and traditions and comparing to our life and childhoods. Breathtaking is definitely the word.
Du Iz Tak? By Carson Ellis
The creator of Home turns a droll eye to the natural world, with gorgeous art and a playful invented language.
Du iz tak? What is that? As a tiny shoot unfurls, two damselflies peer at it in wonder. When the plant grows taller and sprouts leaves, some young beetles arrive to gander, and soon—with the help of a pill bug named Icky—they wrangle a ladder and build a tree fort. But this is the wild world, after all, and something horrible is waiting to swoop down—booby voobeck!—only to be carried off in turn. Su! With exquisitely detailed illustrations and tragicomic flair, Carson Ellis invites readers to imagine the dramatic possibilities to be found in even the humblest backyard. Su!
A brilliant playful book that encourages interpretation. Perfect for sequencing and story-telling. The drama’s are left up to us. Having used it with a class the wildly different interpretations f the story are testament to how good a book it is. One tip don’t be tempted to tell the children your story as it works best when they find their own.
Birrarung Wilam by Aunty Joy Murphy, Andrew Kelly and Lisa Kennedy
Travel along Melbourne’s twisting Yarra River in a glorious celebration of Indigenous culture and Australia’s unique flora and fauna.
As ngua rises, Bunjil soars over mountain ash, flying higher and higher as the wind warms. Below, Birrarung begins its long winding path down to palem warreen.
Yarra Riverkeeper Andrew Kelly and Aboriginal Elder of the Wurundjeri people Aunty Joy Murphy join to tell the Indigenous and geographical story of Melbourne’s beautiful Yarra River — from its source to its mouth and from its prehistory to the present day. The writing dazzles with poetic descriptions of the trees, plants, and wildlife that thrive in harmony along the iconic waterway. Lush and vibrant acrylic paintings from Indigenous illustrator Lisa Kennedy make the mighty Yarra come to life — coursing under a starry sky, drawing people to its sunny shores, mirroring a searing orange sunset. Jewel-like details in the illustrations offer opportunities for discovery on every page. As gorgeous and powerful as the river itself, this stunner invites all to come to Wilam: home.
End matter includes an authors’ note and a glossary of the Woiwurrung words used in the story.
A wonderful poetic text that takes us on the journey of a river, a life giver. Gorgeous art takes us on a trip along the the Yarra river and helps us understand it’s importance in the indigenous history of the area. Full of historical, geographical and natural wonder the book is a lesson for all with so much to explore and learn on every page.
Look Up by Nathan Byron and Dapo Adeola
Meet Rocket–a plucky aspiring astronaut intent on getting her community to LOOK UP! from what they’re doing and reach for the stars in this auspicious debut picture book.
A comet will be visible tonight, and Rocket wants everyone to see it with her–even her big brother, Jamal, whose attention is usually trained on his phone or video games. Rocket’s enthusiasm brings neighbors and family together to witness a once-in-a-lifetime sighting. Perfect for fans of Ada Twist, Scientist and young science lovers excited about the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, Look Up! will inspire readers of all ages to dream big as it models Rocket’s passion for science and infectious curiosity.
Author Nathan Bryon, an actor and screenwriter, and Dapo Adeola, a community-minded freelance illustrator, bring their fresh talents, passion, and enthusiasm to the picture book medium.
A fantastic book about family, following your own path and engaging with the world around you. Rocket is just the most brilliant book character and the books taps into our knowledge of younger siblings. The relationship with Jamal is perfect and and the book is just threaded with family love. Full of science tidbits too this is just a great book. I’d also recommend Clean-up as well, which we’re going to use to encourage some environmental beach clean-ups and caring for our own space. (we are a seaside school)
Black Dog Levi Pinfold
An enormous black dog and a very tiny little girl star in this offbeat tale about confronting one’s fears.
When a huge black dog appears outside the Hope family home, each member of the household sees it and hides. Only Small, the youngest Hope, has the courage to face the black dog, who might not be as frightening as everyone else thinks.
Off-beat and slightly surreal, Black Dog is just a beautifully crafted story about how we create fears and how to deal with them. The Family are crying out for character descriptions and the arts perspective and scale is perfect for understanding the character emotion. It’s not to everyone’s taste but if you like it you love it.
How to Solve a Problem by Ashima Shiraishi and Yao Xiao
“There were twists and turns. There were places that looked as slick as glass. One part was arched like a question mark, another part stuck out like my father’s elbow in a photo I have seem of him dancing, and another was shaped like the bolts of fabric stacked in my mother’s sewing room. There were many parts, and none of them looked easy.”
“And there, at the top of the problem, I looked down at the bolts of fabric, the dot of the question mark, the bend of the elbow, and I waved hello at the memory of how hard the problem was.”
From Ashima Shiraishi, one of the world’s youngest and most skilled climbers, comes a true story of strength and perseverence–in rock-climbing and in life.
To a rock climber, a boulder is called a “problem,” and you solve it by climbing to the top. There are twists and turns, falls and scrapes, and obstacles that seem insurmountable until you learn to see the possibilities within them. And then there is the moment of triumph, when there’s nothing above you but sky and nothing below but a goal achieved.
Ashima Shiraishi draws on her experience as a world-class climber in this story that challenges readers to tackle the problems in their own lives and rise to greater heights than they would have ever thought possible.
A great biography of young rock climber Ashima Shiraishi. Brilliant for exploring challenges and how we overcome problems though planning and changing approach as well as a little courage. The art is in your face and jumps from the page. It has a vibrant graphic novel feel. Can’t wait to use this when we are back at school.
Counting on Katherine by Helen Becker and Dom Phumiruk
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman
The story of Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician who worked for NASA during the space race and was depicted in the book and film Hidden Figures.
You’ve likely heard of the historic Apollo 13 moon landing. But do you know about the mathematical genius who made sure that Apollo 13 returned safely home?
As a child, Katherine Johnson loved to count. She counted the steps on the road, the number of dishes and spoons she washed in the kitchen sink, everything! Boundless, curious, and excited by calculations, young Katherine longed to know as much as she could about math, about the universe.
From Katherine’s early beginnings as a gifted student to her heroic accomplishments as a prominent mathematician at NASA, this is the story of a groundbreaking American woman who not only calculated the course of moon landings but, in turn, saved lives and made enormous contributions to history.
Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were good at math…really good.
They participated in some of NASA’s greatest successes, like providing the calculations for America’s first journeys into space. And they did so during a time when being black and a woman limited what they could do. But they worked hard. They persisted. And they used their genius minds to change the world.
In this illustrated picture book edition, we explore the story of four female African American mathematicians at NASA, known as “colored computers,” and how they overcame gender and racial barriers to succeed in a highly challenging STEM-based career.
These final two books I would use together. These coupled with other books in the list challenge perspective and open up dialogue. The story of Katheribne Johnson itself is inspirational but I love how both books tackle it from differing perspectives that is why I would use them together as part of a space science topic. (I’d slip Look up in there as well)
Year 3 List 1
10 Picturebooks for Year 3…list 1
Picturebook Lists Year 1 -Year6
Year 4 list 2
10 more Picturebooks for Year 4…#PicturebookPage
Year 5 list 2
10 more Picturebooks for Year 5 (List 2)…#PicturebookPage
Year 6 list 2
More Picturebooks for Year 6 (list 2) …#PictureBookPage