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Comforting Picture Books + Giveaways

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Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of all five of these books.

We are living in serious and uncertain times. I watch the news once my daughter goes to bed since I am trying to shield her from the disasters, most of which are not created by nature. Everything she knows about the current state of the world goes through a mom filter first. I know I cannot protect her from the harsh realities of the world, but it’s my hope to help her hold onto her childhood just a little longer. After all, she is only seven.

I may shield my daughter from threats of nuclear war with North Korea and the Russia probe, but I do not shield her from social issues. We read picture books where she sees characters dealing with poverty, same-sex couples, and loss. I don’t shy away from books with tough topics since they are the kinds of windows she needs so she can understand lives of people who are different than she is.

Last week, Matt de la Pena penned an article in Time Magazine entitled “Why We Shouldn’t Shield Children From Darkness.” De la Pena made the case that picture books are a safe place to help children see and feel the world.  He asserted:

Maybe instead of anxiously trying to protect our children from every little hurt and heartache, our job is to simply support them through such experiences.

A few days later, Kate DiCamillo responded, also in Time, with “Why Children’s Books Should Be a Little Sad.” DiCamillo penned an open letter to de la Pena where she asked:

So that’s the question, I guess, for you and for me and for all of us trying to do this sacred task of telling stories for the young: How do we tell the truth and make that truth bearable?

A couple of weeks ago, I sat on the floor of my home office reading through stacks of newly-released picture books for an upcoming presentation on mentor texts. A small, odd pile formed by the end of the night. This pile was filled with books that weren’t just beautifully written, they that felt like books that sought to nourish and comfort young souls. Because, to paraphrase from DiCamillo, this world is filled with sorrow, heartbreak, and devastating beauty. So, today I share with you a collection of five books I’ve grouped together that aren’t going to just help your students write better. These picture books will serve as springboards into conversations about social issues and will hopefully provide children with comfort amidst the darkness of today’s world.

9781524740917Love by Matt de la Pena and Loren Long (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2018)

Publisher’s Summary: In this heartfelt celebration of love, Newbery Medal-winning author Matt de la Pena and bestselling illustrator Loren Long depict the many ways we experience this universal bond, which carries us from the day we are born throughout the years of our childhood and beyond. With a lyrical text that’s soothing and inspiring, this tender tale is a needed comfort and a new classic that will resonate with readers of every age.

Several Craft Moves You Can Teach Young Writers: advice to the reader ending, compound adjectives, dialogue, precise words, sensory details, varied sentence lengths, vivid verbs

TH_Most PeopleMost People by Michael Leannah and Jennifer E. Morris (Tilbury House Publishers, 2017)

Publisher’s Summary: The world can be a scary place. Anxious adults want children to be aware of dangers, but shouldn’t kids be aware of kindness too?

Michael Leannah wrote Most People as an antidote to the scary words and images kids hear and see every day. Jennifer Morris’s emotive, diverting characters provide the perfect complement to Leannah’s words, leading us through the crowded streets of an urban day in the company of two pairs of siblings (one of color). We see what they see: the hulking dude with tattoos and chains assisting an elderly lady onto the bus; the Goth teenager with piercings and purple Mohawk returning a lost wallet to its owner; and the myriad interactions of daily existence, most of them well intended. Most People is a courageous, constructive response to the dystopian world of the news media.

Several Craft Moves You Can Teach Young Writers: commas in lists, ellipses points, repetition (of a phrase), wraparound ending, speech bubbles, talking to the reader lead

9780763691547On the Night of the Shooting Star by Amy Hest and Jenni Desmond (Candlewick Press, 2017)

Publisher’s Summary: For solitary neighbors Bunny and Dog, reticence overcomes curiosity — until something extraordinary happens to nudge them into friendship. Bunny and Dog live on opposite sides of the fence. Every morning, first thing, Bunny looks through the fence and the tall grass at Dog. And every morning, first thing, Dog looks through the fence and the tall grass at Bunny. Yet neither one says hello. Or hi. Or nice to see you today. But then, one night, Bunny and Dog both see a shooting star zip through the sky. Could this shared moment be the start of a friendship? From storyteller Amy Hest and artist Jenni Desmond comes a lyrical, touching, and timely picture book about finding the courage to say “I could be your friend.”

Several Craft Moves You Can Teach Young Writers: commas (i.e., for introductory phrases, in lists), internal thinking, meeting the characters + setting lead, sensory details, surprise ending, varied sentence lengths, turning point, vivid verbs

9781250107145_FC

Stay: A Girl, a Dog, a Bucket List by Katie Klise and M. Sarah Klise (Feiwel and Friends, 2017)

Publisher’s Summary: Eli the dog has been with Astrid since her parents brought her home from the hospital as a baby. Now Astrid is getting older, and so is Eli. Before he slows down too much, Astrid wants to make fun memories with him. So she makes a bucket list for Eli, which includes experiences such as eating with him in a restaurant, and taking him down a slide at the playground.

But in the end, what is most important to Eli is the time he spends with Astrid, whom he loves dearly. Sisters Kate and M. Sarah Klise have created a story that reminds readers of all ages that time with our loved ones is the most precious gift of all.

Several Craft Moves You Can Teach Young Writers: commas (i.e., for introductory phrases, in lists), connecting with the reader ending, dialogue, internal thinking, meeting the characters lead, turning point, varied sentence lengths

THE PINK HATThe Pink Hat by Andrew Joyner (Schwartz & Wade, 2017)

Publisher’s Summary: Here is a clever story that follows the journey of a pink hat that is swiped out of a knitting basket by a pesky kitten, blown into a tree by a strong wind, and used as a cozy blanket for a new baby, then finally makes its way onto the head of a young girl marching for women’s equality.Inspired by the 5 million people (many of them children) in 82 countries who participated in the 2017 Women’s March, Andrew Joyner has given us a book that celebrates girls and women and equal rights for all. With themes of empathy, equality, and solidarity, The Pink Hat is a timeless and timely story that will empower readers and promote strength in the diverse and active feminist community.

Several Craft Moves You Can Teach Young Writers: compound adjectives, ellipsis points, repetition, surprise ending, varied sentence lengths, vivid verbs

{All of the craft moves listed above are explained in Craft Moves: Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts.}

Another exquisite picture book that feels like it fits with the above-mentioned titles is Come With Me by Holly M. McGhee and Pascal LeMaitre. Click here to read an interview with author Holly McGhee, which was originally posted in August 2017.

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

  • This giveaway is for a copy of  each of the following books: Love, Most People, On the Night of the Shooting Star, Stay: A Girl, a Dog, a Bucket List, and The Pink Hat. Many thanks to Candlewick Press, MacMillan, Penguin Random House, and Tilbury House Publishers, for donating a copy of each of these books for one lucky reader.
  • For a chance to win these five books, please leave a comment about this post by Wednesday, January 24th at 11:59 p.m. EST. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Friday, January 26th.NOTE: You must have a U.S. mailing address to enter this giveaway.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, my contacts at each of the above-mentioned publishers will ship your books out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
  • If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – COMFORTING PICTURE BOOKS. Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.

Comments are now closed.

Thank you to everyone who left a comment. Donna Franczek’s commenter number was pulled so she’ll receive these five books.

Stacey Shubitz View All

Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.

157 thoughts on “Comforting Picture Books + Giveaways Leave a comment

  1. Beautiful. As an ELL teacher who studies writing, I am always looking at ways to meld the struggles, and unique perspectives my students have while encouraging them to grow as writers. These books all done that. I have already added them to my ”to buy” list and shared the two articles with my social worker.

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  2. Thank you for this short list of wonderful titles! I teach high school, but I love to use children’s books to show them a simplified, yet elegant, form of writing.

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  3. What a great list of books! These books sound like the perfect addition to my classroom library, as well as my children’s book shelf. Thanks for the sharing!

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  4. Like all other blog posts from this team, it’s a keeper!! I have to figure out a way to organize all the blogs I’ve saved for easy access. 🙂

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  5. I’ve read Most People several times this year to my students. I have not seen the other, yet. I would love to win them! If not, I’ll be shopping for them soon. Thanks for your thoughts on these books.

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  6. Thank you so much for this post and all your posts about mentor texts! I teach overseas so your blog is one way I don’t miss out on beautiful, meaningful texts that I can share with my students.

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  7. Thank you for the opportunity to win these amazing books.

    I give my books to the Hawthorne School Library, which is a school with many shelter children and disadvantaged families. These would be wonderful for them.

    I listened to Matt and Loren talk about LOVE on NPR last week. It was heartfelt and refreshing. I have it on my list.

    This is a great posting.

    Sharon

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  8. I had just read Kate’s interview with Time since I don’t like sad picture books. Using The Stranded Whale in grade 5 UOS Writing for Literary Essays is always a hard text for me to include. However, I loved what Kate had to say. Thanks for sharing these book titles and the craft moves. What a great resource! I love comfort….

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  9. Thank you for sharing this list of great resources! I appreciate you including craft moves for each text! (I am not sure if my first reply went through. If it did, I am sorry for the repeat!)

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  10. What a wonderful post on a topic that I’ve never seen touched upon. I work at the middle school level but find that my students often act tough when inside they are more uncertain and afraid than their younger brothers and sisters. Thanks for the great list.

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  11. What a timely post Stacey. I LOVE Matt de la Pena’s new book Love! And I shared Stay not long ago with my 4th grade readers. Haven’t read the others on your list. We live in crazy times but we are also incredibly lucky that there are gifted writers who are weaving hard and reality into their beautiful stories. These texts give us opportunities with the children we love, teach, and support.

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  12. I just started writing workshop this year. I am always on the lookout for mentor texts for instruction. Thanks for the recommendations and ideas for writing instruction.

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  13. I have always believed in the power of words…to inspire, to comfort, and to heal. They resonate in the head and in the heart. Picture books are the ideal forum for this.

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  14. What a beautiful opportunity. Picture books speak to the souls of learners at any age. What a great way to open dialogue, heal hearts and grow lives.

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  15. As an early career teacher, I am always looking for more resources on social/emotional learning and these are great! Excited to pass this along to my colleagues.

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  16. I always love finding new books to share with my first graders! So much character building happening at a young age. Thank you for giving me some new titles to make sure I share with my class!

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  17. What a fabulous list! I am always looking for new titles to use as mentor texts in reading and in writing. I love to use picture books to introduce Beers and Probst’s signposts, too! Thank you!

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  18. True words! We can see students’ need to think about and process difficult topics in their writing. How wonderful that they are books they show students how to do this kind of thinking and writing in a productive, powerful way. Great list!

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    • I am so grateful for this post! I just had a conversation with a colleague yesterday about having those tough conversations in a developmentally appropriate way. I am so excited to have resources that will help me do just that. Thank you!

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  19. Stacey – Thanks for this important post sharing ways to help our young students in these troubling times. Picture books have such an impact on our youngest kids as well as our older students. Conversations that can take place after reading these will resonate with all children. The craft moves listed are an additional bonus!! dgrohman@somsd.k12.nj.us

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  20. I love a great stack of comforting books. And, yes, our world is in need of more of them to grlp us begin and navigate conversations. These titles sound like a perfect match! I’m also glad you mentioned McGhee’s book as well. So powerful and comforting to know we can make a difference — even children too! Thanks for sharing!

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  21. As I’m doing #classroombookaday with my group of 5th graders who desperately want to be adults (and don’t realize how lucky they are to still be kids), it’s books like these that fuel our conversations and keep strengthening our community. Thanks for sharing these titles!

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  22. At the suggestion of our school librarian, I have joined the #classroombookaday challenge and I’ve been sharing a picture book every day with my fourth grade class. It’s been one of the simplest but most valuable teaching moves ive ever made. I’d love to add these books to my collection

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  23. Thanks for this post and the book recs. We (kids and adults alike) need all the comfort we can get these days. I’m most looking forward to reading LOVE, but the others look good, too. I was especially interested to see you recommend THE PINK HAT. When I first heard about it I was caught by the fact that it’s written by a man and am wondering how that will come across. Eager to read it to find out.

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  24. I have found picture books to be the perfect way to encourage talking about anything! This has held true with my own children, my students, and now, my grandchildren. I love your list of five.

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  25. This post!!
    Thank you so much for sharing, I strongly believe that is not our job, or in our kids best interest, to shield them from the outside world. Instead we owe it to them to be a guide as they navigate their way through and try to make meaning of what is happening around them. Picture books are such a powerful way to address tough topics and inspire conversation. I would love to add these amazing titles to our school library!

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  26. I’ve been lucky enough to read ‘Most People’ already, which has a lot of good reminders for my 35 year old self, much less the students I work with. I am excited to read the others on the list. Thank you for the opportunity!

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  27. I love books that help children of all ages (and adults!) understand and navigate the world around them while in the safety of meaningful words and beautiful illustrations. Thanks for this list! Can’t wait to share it with my colleagues!

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  28. Hmmm, there is a category for comfort books now? I don’t know what that says about our world, but I’ve always found comfort in any kind of book! I’d love to win these to read aloud to my second graders, who at any given moment seem to need some sort of comfort – a snack, a nap, a listening ear AND a good book. 🙂

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  29. What a perfect way to share conversation with students and loved ones. These books open up our minds to the world and give us courage to do what’s right.
    Thank you!

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  30. This is interesting! Agreed children need to realize that the world is not all lollipops and toys and we need to support them to navigate uncomfortable situations.

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  31. I needed to read such a post today, with all the bad news in the world. It is always wonderful to hear about and value together words of encouragement and love. Thank you. And also thanks for sharing the links to the essays by Matt and Kate. I recommend that all lovers of children and children’s literature read these. I will share them with the teachers with whom I work. Persist, everyone!!

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  32. I am so excited to read t his post. I was listening to NPR just yesterday and de la Pena was being interviewed about his book Love. I was so moved at his interpretation as he read parts of it and his explanation of why he wrote this moving book, to help explain the world to his young daughter that I wanted to buy it to share with my students and grand children! The entire collection seems comforting and reassuring for children of all ages!

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  33. I love the post and will be sharing this post with other teachers. I am looking forward to sharing these beautiful books with my students. Thank You!

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  34. Thank you for this post. It helps to find new engaging books to use to not only teach craft moves, but also to discuss important topics with kids.

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  35. Using picture books to expose children to complex social issues is an amazingly age-appropriate strategy. Teaching kids how to navigate the highs and lows of their world and the world around them can make them more socially strong adolescents and adults.

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  36. Love the comment on how children’s books should be a little sad. Would love to win these and would make sure they get into the hands of children.

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  37. I LOVE the craft teaching ideas. As an instructional coach we are focusing right now on building writing lessons using trade books that fit across grades. I also love that these would be great books to use for reading mini lessons. As I was reading your craft moves ideas were popping in my head as ways to use them with reading also. I would love to add these books to our resources and to use to model lessons for my teachers. THANKS!

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  38. Thank you for sharing these books – I’m always on the lookout for books that can help students learn more about writer’s craft, but even more importantly, about important topics.

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  39. What a great selection of books! In addition to discussing style of writing, I’m always looking for books with a message….these books offer both. Thank you!

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  40. Thank you for the tips for craft moves with these beautiful stories! I always love getting a new list of books recommended so I have an excuse to read in the kid’s section.

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  41. What a great list, Stacey. As you know, I read Love to Maddie and Katie recently. They were so captivated by the illustrations. Like you, I try to read them books that show a diverse (and sometimes sad) world. I read Kate DiCamillo’s post the other day and loved every word.

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  42. Stacey, such a timely post to remind us to be mindful all along the way. I would love to share all of these books with my students. Needed now more than ever.

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  43. Three of these titles are new to me. Thanks for sharing. You cost me a lot of money, Ms. Shubitz! I’m with you…the social justice issues can’t be ignored. I think home is the perfect place to discuss these so I can filter them through our own family values before my kids hear about them at school.

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  44. I am excited about these books and more likes these to come. Books like these have been around, but not popular. As a parent and educator, I love books like this. They help me tackle important issues and feelings with my daughter so that society doesn’t have to feed some skewed truths.

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  45. I just copied this post and will be sharing it in 14 two-day summer literacy workshops, “Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing through Picture Books.” This post will fit beautifully with the two reference books I used while constructing that workshop: “Craft Moves – Lesson Sets for Teaching Writing with Mentor Texts” by you, Stacey Shubitz, and “Mentor Texts – Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature, K-6” by Lynne Dorfman & Rose Cappelli.

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  46. Thinking how compassion, tenderness, and empathy can temper hard truths – not to get comfortable with them, but to create the space to endure and eventually the strength to change them. It all begins with comforting and being truthful,employing both wisdom and grace. I loved the de la Pena article.

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  47. Using picture books to connect to real life issues is overlooked. I use picture books all the time with my middle school students and it’s amazing the deeper connections and inferences they can make. I love the idea of all these picture books and they could be used for both young and old.

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  48. I am looking forward to sharing these books with my first graders. Thank you for taking the time to make a list of books that will help my students grow and better understand our world and the people in it.

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  49. I love hearing about new books to read with my students, especially ones that can have such powerful messages during these trying times. We teach a reading unit on social issues in the spring and these would be great for that as well.

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  50. The mommy filter is an important one. I considered writing a slice about how I realized I am intentionally not bringing up things like MLK Day that would bring the US to the forefront of our classroom conversation. Sigh. Books like these, on the other hand, are welcome conversation starters!

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  51. I agree that books are a safe way for readers to experience the world around them in a safe place. It is also important for students to see that there is so many positive things in our world that do bring people together.

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  52. Picture books have been great for our co-taught 6th grade English/ENL class.They are accessible to all, the kids love the pictures, and they still love to be read to! Thank you for the list of new titles and teaching points.

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  53. Every time I read a post like this, I think I need to do better with using picture books in my classroom. I bought Love and After the Fall to help me get started on this goal for 2018. Your post will help me look closely for craft moves and ideas that my students can glean. Thanks.

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  54. I’ve read Some People with my second graders and they really understood it. We have a responsibility as teachers to help our students understand how to find the light in these troubled times. And to use in conjunction with writing- well all the better!!

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  55. How wonderful for us adults to have these special books to share with our children . These are truly uncertain times and we need to to sometimes see things through the lense of a child. I love all these titles! Thank you for sharing them!

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  56. Beautiful picture books which bring awareness and empathy to the world of children in an unbiased way. These authors have taken on challenging topics and are at the forefront of impacting the future generations in a positive way.

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  57. Thanks so much for sharing these comforting and inspiring books that can be shared with our students during these troubling times in which we live today. They will be very helpful. I really appreciate it.

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  58. All of these picture book titles sound wonderful and I would love to be reading them soon with my students. Thanks for the opportunity in your contest!

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  59. Although my third graders are excited to read “chapter books” independently, they still adore picture books. Ialways point out that these books require deep thinking to enjoy and that they’re not only for younger kids!

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  60. I too read both the Matt de la Pena piece and the Kate diCamillo piece over the weekend and found their words so beautiful and powerful. I’m so thankful that there are authors like them in this world, creating books and telling stories that we need to hear.

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  61. This article came at the perfect time. Teaching 5th graders to dig deep in their reading and writing is an amazing way to see them grow as thinkers and doers. In the real classroom, my students are not all in the same level. By using mentor texts that comfort them, I can draw comparisons to the novels we read as as a class, but reach them on their own level. There is nothing better than having a touching story read to you.

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  62. A friend of mine who teaches statistics and research methods at the university level once said, “Children’s books are the last bastion of truth in this fast-paced world we live in.” He reads picture books, juvenile novels and YA novels, and he will like this post as much as I do! Thank you!

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  63. Picture books are very useful in middle school as well as the elementary grades. I have used them to teach grammar, to introduce a topic, and to help students empathize with others. These books sound like wonderful tools and enjoyable reads.

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  64. Your opening line about protecting your daughter brought me to tears this morning. As a new grandma (Meme) to 4 in the past 2 years, I share your thoughts about wanting to protect while fostering compassion. I realize that our careful selection of books on all levels can make a difference. Thank you for sharing.

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  65. Thanks for the chance to win these awesome books, and for the teaching opportunities in each. I need to do that with each book I pull for read alouds from now on, and make a spreadsheet!

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  66. Thank you so much for highlighting this collection of great books! I always look forward to reading these recommendations and appreciate you taking the time to compile these lists of great reads! I will definitely be adding these books to my WISHLIST!!!!

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  67. Stacey, what a great post! I love how you curated this collection of comforting picture books. Not only have you introduced some new-to-me titles, you’ve offered ideas on how to use them in the classroom. A feast for teachers! Thanks!

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