Classroom Community

Book Reviews - Books for Building Your Library

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This week, we bring you a diverse selection of books with themes of friendship, hope, inclusion, cooperation, tolerance, and community. Introduce them at the beginning of the year to weave a fabric of community in your classroom, or read them during the year to revisit and strengthen those important ties.

The Story Blanket

This week's feature book is about a tight-knit community in a tiny mountain village. A group of children sit together on the story blanket until the blanket's yarn must fill other needs in the community. This sweet tale of generosity isa great book for establishing communities and sharing stories.

Click here to view this book in Amazon +
Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Into the Woods: John James Audubon Lives His Dream

Next week's feature book is the highlight of our first author study: "The Robert Burleigh Issue." Burleigh writes an imagined letter from the famed naturalist Audubon to his father. In gentle rhymed couplets, Audubon explains his desire to "hold to his dreams" and become an artist, despite his father's misgivings. This beautifully illustratedbiography includes excerpts from Audubon's journal as well as several of Audubon's own paintings.

The Wonderful Towers of Watts

This book tells the true story ofone man'sartistic creation in the center of Watts, an impoverished Los Angeles neighborhood. Over a period of 30 years, Italian immigrant Simon Rodia uses salvaged materials to build glittering, multi-colored towers that become a symbol of hope in the community.Click here for excellent community-building activities related to this book.

Click here to view this book in Amazon +
Click here to view this book in Amazon +

The New Kid on the Block

This ALA Notable Book includes over 100 playful poems by Jack Prelutsky. Reading these poems aloud will build community in the classroom as children laugh together and delight in the easily-relatable topics. The title poem can be used to open discussions about welcoming new students into the community, getting along, and bullying.


Mattland is a bookreminiscent of Roxaboxen, the much-loved story of a make-believe community built by children. A boy named Matt has movedto yet another new place where he has no friends. Alone, he begins building a miniature world using the mud and landscape of his backyard. This colorful book touches on themes of new friendship and teamwork.

Click here to view this book in Amazon +
Click here to view this book in Amazon +

One Green Apple

Eve Bunting brings us thisstory of a Muslim girl who has moved to the United States. Speaking no English, she is isolated and alone on her second day of school. This book will helpchildren empathize with those who feel different, and appreciatethe unique contributions that everyone can bring to the community.


This slim novel of vignettes tellsthe heart-warming story of adiverseurban community. A young girl starts a garden in a vacant and trash-filled lot. Soon, the garden becomes a collaborative project that transforms the neighborhood and brings individuals together.

Click here to view this book in Amazon +
Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Dear Mr. Rosenwald

Set in the rural south in the 1920s, this book is told from the viewpoint of a 10-year-old girl who attends a rough one-room schoolhouse when not working in the fields. The community comes together, black and white, to build a new school for African Americans with seed money from the Julius Rosenwald Fund.

It's Mine!

Endless bickering is what three frogs do all day long in this tale by Caldecott Medalist Leo Lionni. "It's mine!" they claim about everything from the water, to a rock, to a butterfly. It takes a wise toad and a disastrous flood to help the frogs learnthe value of sharing and cooperation.

Click here to view this book in Amazon +
Click here to view this book in Amazon +

The Morning Meeting Book

In this resource book, teachers will find powerful and practical tools for building classroom community. Learn how to launch each day with a Morning Meeting that supports academic and social needs throughgreetings, morning messages,sharing, and group activities.