Book Reviews - Books for Building Your Library

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Team Literacyhead brings you another spectacular collection of books for building your classroom library. This list offers rhyming books that have depth, giving you and your students a chance to think past the most common uses of rhyme.

All the World

This 2010 Caldecott Medal Honor Book is larger than your average picture book. Once you discover Marla Frazee's beautifully detailed double-page illustrations, you'll see why the larger format was essential. Though a young interracial family are the central characters, All the World includes loads of multigenerational characters and nontraditional families. Starting in the morning and ending in the evening, this book illustrates an ageless story showing what people have done together for eons: eating, going to the farmer's market, laughing, and playing music together. Frazee hand-lettered Liz Garton Scanlon's nine stanza poem that provides the text for All the World. The central theme of this book is our interconnectedness with each other and the world around us. You'll find that Scanlon's lyrical stanzas are simple yet outrageously profound. And I bet you'll find yourself repeating them to yourself as a meditation: "Hope and peace and love and trust, All is the world is all of us."

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Yesterday I Had the Blues

If you've ever had the blues, or the yellows, or the indigos, then this book is for you! Jeron Ashford Frame's colorful story is filled with metaphor and accompanied by the equally vivid art of R. Gregory Christie. This book uses different colors as metaphors for feelings, such as Frame's description of having the grays as "The don't ask for a new skateboard till tomorrow grays." This book is great as a mentor text, as an exploration of color, and as a prompt for discussions about feelings.

In the Tall, Tall Grass

Denise Fleming's simple yet insightful rhyming text offers students an up close and personal look at the many critters that live in the tall, tall, grass. This book is a nice way to introduce young students to scientific concepts about the animal kingdom. Descriptive rhyming words are featured with each new animal and when read aloud, are melodic.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Amazing Faces

This picture book anthology compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins comes to life with Chris Soentpiet's large, beautiful watercolor portraits of sixteen people of diverse age and ethnicity. Some of the poems gently rhyme, but not every one. What every poem does do is celebrate America's abundant diversity. Amazing Faces is an oversized book, which makes it easier to read the rich blend of feelings, background, and history in each exquisite likeness. The final and last poem is My People, by Langston Hughes, a fitting conclusion to a special book that celebrates the uniqueness of all people and the connections they have with the world.

Thank You, World

Beautifully illustrated with crayons, Thank You, World takes you through a typical day of different children all over the world. Laid out using eight quadrants on each two-page spread, you can simultaneously compare what each child is doing in eight different countries. The children experience the same moments but in very different surroundings and Wendy Anderson Halperin's illustrations are wonderfully detailed. Tree branches look very different in Saudi Arabia, Bolivia, and Mexico. Even something as common as bedrooms and blankets are dissimilar when comparing them in China, Mali, and India. Using gently rolling rhythm and rhyme, Alice B. McGinty's text helps explain in concrete terms the message that we as a human race are all connected and have common characteristics despite our cultural differences.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +


Wordplay begins this colorful picture book as we are introduced to the young boy, Art, who spends the book making art. Author and illustrator Patrick McDonnell was inspired by the classic book, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and one could view this as a tribute. Gentle rhyming is juxtaposed with brilliant and varied styles of art as Art doodles and noodles and splotches and blotches.

Poetry for Young People: Maya Angelou

From Sterling Publishing comes another collection of poetry for young people. Twenty-five poems written by Maya Angelou -- poems of hope, encouragement, and pride -- are beautifully compiled in this book. Two of Angelou's better-known poems about perseverance, "Still I Rise" and "Me and My Work," are among the collected works. Though many of Angelou's poems reflect upon African-American struggles, they offer all young readers themes of strength and hope. Each verse is accompanied by magnificent illustrations from Jerome Lagarrigue.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Heart to Heart

This book of New Poems Inspired by Twentieth-Century American Art is filled with beautiful artwork and a diversity of poetic forms. Edited by Jan Greenberg, Heart to Heart includes poems written by forty-three renowned American poets, commissioned especially for this project. The poems and the art in companion, offer a marriage of words and images that is truly unique. Not all of these poems suit a classroom audience, but many can serve as examples for writing in response to art. Use this book to support poetic explorations with students, particularly those stimulated by artwork.

This Place I Know

Edited by Georgia Heard, This Place I Know: Poems of Comfort lives up to its title. This anthology includes poems of hope and place, each accompanied with an illustration by one of eighteen famous children's illustrators. This Place I Know offers a simple, yet consistent voice of encouragement. With poetry from poets such as Karla Kuskin, Langston Hughes, and Eloise Greenfield, this is one of our favorite books of children's poetry. A portion of the profits from sales of This Place I Know goes to Save the Children.

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Click here to view this book in Amazon +

Mirriam Webster's Rhyming Dictionary

If you are going to experiment with rhyme, you will enjoy a good rhyming dictionary. You will be surprised how many rhymes for a given word you didn't consider. Words are rhymed alphabetically with long lists of rhymes and approximations. A rhyming dictionary is an indispensible poet's tool and will broaden your rhyming perspective!