recommended picture books, winter of first grade edition

Monster Bones: The Story of a Dinosaur Fossil: An excellent introduction to fossilization and paleontology, following a single dinosaur’s path from living creature to museum exhibit. Clearly written and engaging. Also, three cheers for referring to the dinosaur and other fossilized creatures as “it” rather than “he,” making the lead scientist and about half the humans in the images women, and including a significant proportion of people of color, all without making a fuss over it. Much-recommended!

Barnum’s Bones: Another awesome dinosaur-and-paleontology book! This one’s a more traditional, narrative picture book.

Best Ever Paper Planes and The Flying Machine Book: Loads of fun stuff to make and throw in these two. Creative options, with easy-to-follow instructions.

The Bobbin Girl: An accessible and engaging invitation to conversations about labor history, socioeconomic class, sexism, and the power of long-term grassroots political struggle. I love that this is a moving and basically upbeat picture book about a protest that doesn’t achieve the desired results.

She’s Wearing a Dead Bird on Her Head!: Another good way into conversations about gender history. Noah particularly loved this book and read it many times on his own after the initial read-aloud. Great, colorful pictures and a good historical note at the end.

The Christmas Magic: A beautiful Christmas book with an unusual representation of Santa Claus.

Hanna’s Cold Winter: I loved this one so much! During WWII, the people of Budapest come together to keep the zoo’s hippopotami from starving.

Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein: Approaches Einstein’s life and work by starting with his childhood, when he was a little peculiar (who among us is not, I ask you?) and had quite a temper. Very accessible.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream Speech in Translation: What It Really Means and March On! The Day My Brother Changed the World: Moving and thoughtful accounts of King’s most famous speech, these two focus on his message, life, and cultural moment rather than on his death, which Noah knows about but doesn’t love dwelling on. Unlike some school/popular accounts of King’s legacy, the ‘speech in translation’ book presents the entire speech and doesn’t soften King’s message.

Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins: Even Eric, who’s a US historian and is rarely impressed by picture books of any kind, really really liked this one. A personal and accessible approach to the Civil Rights movement, racism, and activism.

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  1. Erin
    Posted 30 March 2013 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

    We are staunchly anti-SAnta Claus in our household (okay, we aren’t “against” him, but we do not promote him or receive gifts from him) but I do love The Christmas Magic, gifted to us from a friend. The pictures are so beautiful.

    • Molly
      Posted 30 March 2013 at 9:20 PM | Permalink

      We don’t do Santa either, but this year we’re learning about lots of holidays as part of school. The bummer is that there’s no good history-of-Santa/cross-cultural-Santas book for young children, because I guess they’re all meant to believe he’s real. A pity, because it could be really interesting.

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