Picture Books


Weatherford, C.B., & Nelson, K.  (2006). Moses.  New York: Hyperion Books for Children.

Biography/Picture Book

Reading Level: 3.5

Lexile Level: 660L

Interest Level: 2-5th Grades

In this Caldecott Honor Book and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winning this biography tells the story of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery.  Through dialog with God, Harriet finds the courage to make the journey to Philadelphia. Kadir Nelson’s illustrations provide an intimate glimpse into Harriet’s faith, strength and bravery. The foreword gives a brief history of slavery, that can be used in conjunction with a Social Studies lesson.  The Author’s Note provides additional facts about Harriet’s life, including her suffering as a slave, and her determination to return for her family.  This text can be included as an introduction to slavery, and the Underground Railroad, as the illustrations provide context for how slaves escaped.

Carole Boston Weatherford


Perez, A., I., & Gonzalez, M., C.  (2000). My very own room mi propio cuartito.   San Francisco, CA: Children’s Book Press.

Picture Book/Memoir

Reading Level: 2 grade

Lexile Level: AD 700L

Interest Level: K-5th

This memoir depicts the act of love and a family coming together make Amada’s dream come true of having a space of her own in the small house she shares with her parents and five younger brothers.  Written in both English and Spanish, this book tells the story of the Tomas Rivera Award winning author Amada Irma Perez.  The illustrations by Maya Christina Gonzalez vibrantly demonstrate the joy this family has for one another. Not only will this book fit in with young students who are learning to read English and Spanish, but this will serve as a spot-on mentor text for teaching the craft of memoir.

Amada Irma Perez


Santat, D. (2014).  The adventures of beekle the unimaginary friend. New York: Little, Brown and Company.

Picture Book

Reading Level: 2.3

Lexile Level: AD 480L

Interest Level: Pre-K-2nd

After being passed up time and time again, this book tells the story of an imaginary friend, Beekle, who takes the business of locating a friend into his own hands.  A journey into the real world leaves the little monster alone and helpless.  Dan Santat, a Caldecott winner’s, illustrations use bright colors and harmony to distinguish between everyday life and the life of make believe. He uses a mixture of ink, crayon, and watercolor that embodies childhood, and a fantasy land filled with imaginary friends. Pre-School students will appreciate the illustrations and stories, older students can use this book for a basis of retracing the steps of where their imaginary friend originated from.

Dan Santat


Lee, S., Lee, T., L., & Nelson, K.  (2005). Please, puppy, please.  New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.

Picture Book/Fiction

Reading Level: 1.9

Lexile Level: AD 620L

Interest Level: Pre-K-2nd

It is a tough choice between what is cuter in the picture book, the puppy or the two young children attempting to corral his nonstop shenanigans. The kids keep a close eye on their puppy, and take care and play with him.  Told with repetition throughout, this text can be used with beginning readers to introduce sequence, and parts of a story.  Nelson’s illustrations prominently place the puppy at the center of the pages in a way that represents delight from a child’s perspective.  This simple story and jubilant illustrations provide the reader with a return to childhood, or a reminder of how sweet it can be.


Nelson, K. (2014). Baby bear. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

Picture Book/Fiction

Reading Level: 2.4

Lexile Level: AD 600L

Interest Level: Pre-K- 6th

A little bear is lost, alone and uncertain of how to even start to get back home.  Depending on the advice and kindness of a variety of animals in the forest, he learns self-reliance and faith in himself.  This tender story and Nelson’s dynamic illustrations expose the loneliness the bear feels in the dark forest.  The illustrations are an intimate glimpse at some majestic wildlife.  This text will awe younger readers and will demonstrate to older students that if a situation seems helpless they can resolve it within themselves.  This text also demonstrates how kindness towards others can change someone’s direction.

Kadir Nelson


Good, J. & Krosoczka, J.  (2015).  Must push buttons.  New York: Bloomsbury.

Picture Book/Fiction

Reading Level: 1.5

Lexile Level:

Interest Level: Pre-K-1st

Prepare yourself for mad dash into a toddler’s rapidly changing thoughts and just try to keep up.  Bouncing from one thing to another on a normal day in the life of toddlers Good, precisely captures existence with one.  The illustrations by Krosoczka demonstrate the hasty zigs and zags of toddlerdom even if the child himself does not recognize the insanity of his choices. Younger children will connect to the impulsiveness, and older students may relate to the parents if they are used to spending time with toddlers.  Prominently placed technology, keep this text current and applicable to all while the struggle with juice boxes remains the true struggle.

Jason Good


Nolen, J. & Nelson, K. (2003). Thunder rose.  Orlando, FL: Silver Whistle Harcourt, Inc.

Picture Book/Tall Tale

Reading Level: 5.9

Lexile Level: AD 910L

Interest Level: K-5th

This Corretta Scott King Award tells the tale of the quick-witted and capable girl Rose, who may have met her match in a bad-tempered tornado.  Rose is charming and resourceful, and Nolen achieves her goal set in the Author’s Note of crafting an uplifting story of a determined young lady who takes most matters into her own hands.  Kadir Nelson’s illustrations capture frontier life with grit and fondness.  This text will work in Social Studies classes examining Texas History and Reconstruction after the Civil War. Additionally, this book will fit in with genre studies over tall tales and folktales.

Jerdine Nolen


Grimes, N. & Nelson, K.   (2002). Under the Christmas tree.  New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

Picture Book/Poetry

Reading Level:

Lexile Level:

Interest Level: Preschool – 5th grade

Experience Christmas again through the eyes of a child. The anticipation of finally getting to decorate the Christmas tree, searching for hidden gifts, and Christmas family feasts are all depicted in this book of poetry by Nikki Grimes.  Kadar Nelson’s illustrations reveal warm scenes centered around family traditions.  The book can be used to discuss traditions that students have during holidays, and as a mentor text for writing poetry.

Nikki Grimes


Adoff, A. & Desimini, L.  (1997).  Love letters.  New York: The Blue Sky Press.

Reading Level: 3rd

Lexile Level: 450L

Interest Level: 2nd – 5th grade

Love Letters is a book of poetry written in letters to a variety of classmates, teachers, and family members.  Not all the poems express mushy love, but are a mix of truthfulness and sentiment.  Lisa Desimini’s illustrations whimsical collages compliment the Adoff’s poems. This text can be used as a mentor text for how to write free verse in a style that creates a visual image on the page.  The illustrations provide students with a model on how to create collages that build on images to create one complete image.


big red and the little bitty wolf

Ransom, J. F. & Zivoin, J. (2015). Big red and the little bitty wolf A story about bullying.  Washington DC: Magination Press

Picture Book

Reading Level: 1st

Lexile Level: N/A

Interest Level: Preschool- 2nd grade

In this variant of Little Red Riding Hood the rolls are reversed and “Little Bitty” wolf is the one being terrorized by “Big Red”.  This picture book for younger students tells a story about bullying inside a familiar story.  The reader will follow the young wolf and his experiences with bullying from Big Red, and how he tries to figure out a way to stop her aggression.  There is an informative Note to Parents and Caregivers at the end written by an Associate Professor in School Psychology that explains how this text can be used with students and what to do if one’s child is experiencing bullying or is the bully.

Jeanie Franz Ransom


De Paola, T. (2002).  Adelita A Mexican cinderella story.  New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Picture Book

Reading Level: 3rd

Lexile Level: AD 660L

Interest Level: Preschool- 3rd

In this familiar tale of Cinderella, Tommie de Paola, tells the story of Adelita.  The reader learns that the “fairy god mother” in this story is a close family friend who has cared for all the babies in the family. This book is infused with Spanish words and phrases throughout.  The illustrations, also by de Paola, are bright and colorful showing details of a Mexican way of life. The pumpkin is missing, but readers will see the glass slipper. This text can be used with a fairy tale unit, and as book that highlights anyone can be the part of Cinderella.  A glossary of the Spanish phrases and words used in the book is included at the end.

Tommie DePaola

beauty and the beast

Mayer, M. & Mayer, M.  (1978). Beauty and the beast.  New York: Sea Star Books

Picture Book

Reading Level: 4.6

Lexile Level: 740L

Interest Level: K-5th

In this version of Beauty and the Beast, the reader will discover an alternate version of the story about Beauty, her family and how she came to live with Beast in the castle. This story does not examine the backstory of Beast, but his generosity and kindness towards Beauty continues. Mercer Mayer’s illustrations are beautiful watercolor and ink, and they demonstrate the terribleness of the Beast before his transformation. Students who are familiar with this story can use this text to analyze the differences in the fairy tale versus more popular versions. Some elements are similar and present and some are absent from Mayer’s story.

Marianna Mayer

hansel and gretel)

Gaiman, N. & Mattotti, L.  (2014).  Hansel and Gretel. New York: Toon Graphics

Picture Book

Reading Level: 5th – 8th

Lexile Level: 1030L

Interest Level: 4th – 8th

Inspired by Lorenzo Mattotti’s images in an exhibit, Neil Gaiman’s take on Hansel and Gretel is eerie and unnerving. The illustrations by Mattotti are of black ink on wood free paper and alternate every other page with the text this allows for the illustrations to saturate the pages. The illustrations depict the creepy and wicked story. This text can be used as a mentor text for creating imagery with writing and how word choice can impact writing. While the story is simple and familiar the vocabulary is, sophisticated and expresses even a darker story. The combination of illustrations and the story will capture readers. A detailed history of Wihelm and Jacob Grimm is included at the end of the book along with a bibliography of additional Grimm fairy tales.

Neil Gaiman


Grimm, W. & Sendak, M.  (1988).  Dear mili.  New York: Michael di Capua Books

Picture Book

Reading Level: 3rd

Lexile Level: N/A

Interest Level: 3rd – 6th

Five years after the discovery of a new tale from Wihlem Grimm this text was published. Murice Sendak’s illustrations accompany the story for an experience young readers will enjoy. The illustrates are elaborate and intricate with detail.   Dear Mili tells the story of a little girl who is sent away from her home to flee a war. She is taken in by an old man, she thinks she stays with him, but when she makes her way back home she learns it has been thirty years.  This tale can be used with a fairy tale genre study to analyze similarities and differences within the genre.

Grimm Brothers


Meister, C. (2015).  Cinderella stories around the world: 4 beloved tales.  North Mankato, Minnesota: Capstone.

Picture Book

Reading Level: 2nd

Lexile Level: 600L

Interest Level: Kindergarten-3rd grade

This book offers four variations of the Cinderella tale from France, Egypt, China, and Canada. Each tale is illustrated uniquely by a different artist.  There is a glossary at the end of the book with specific words defined along with activity suggestions for the use of the book.  Young readers can use this book to compare similarities and differences among the same story. Readers can also describe how setting, and details can contribute to a text. Finally, students can research the variations of the tales from the different countries, and additional countries.

Cari Meister

Legend of the persian carpet_

De Pola, T. & Ewart, C.  (1993).  The legend of the Persian carpet. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Picture Book

Reading Level: 3rd

Lexile Level:780 L

Interest Level: Pre-K- 3rd grade

In the Legend of the Persian Carpet the story of the origin of the Persian rug is told. The king’s precious diamond has been stolen and he cannot overcome the sadness of missing the beauty that the diamond made with the light in his palace. A young boy and the people of the kingdom make him an equally beautiful rug so that king will return to the palace. This book will fit into a genre study about legends, and with studies of world cultures and customs.  The illustrations by Claire Ewart are a first for Tomie De Paola, and are bright and colorful.

Tommie De Paola


Duffy, C. (2013). Fairy tale comics: Classic tales told by extraordinary cartoonists. New York: First Second.

Picture Book

Reading Level: 1st

Lexile Level: N/A

Interest Level: 1st- 8th

This text is an anthology of seventeen fairy tales written by comic strip and graphic novel artists. There is most familiar fairy tales, along with some unfamiliar choices. This text can be an introduction to the genre of graphic novels, and how traditional stories can be retold with this genre. Each artist’s interpretation of the fairy tales includes unique illustrations that contribute to story. Students who prefer the genre of graphic novels will appreciate this text. And this text can accompany the traditional fairy tale to analyze and compare different interpretations of the same story. Additionally, students can simply analyze the different types of illustrations and decide how to impact the overall mood of the individual fairy tales.

Chris Duffy


Van Allsburg, C. (1983). The wreck of the zephyr. New York: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children.

Picture Book

Reading Level: 3.9

Lexile Level: 500L

Interest Level: Pre-K-5th

A curious old sail boat is wrecked on top of a hill near a small fishing village. A traveler discovers the sailboat and strikes up a conversation with an old man also at the top, and he tells the tale of how the boat, The Zephyr, came to be abandoned on top of the hill. The story is of an ambitious little boy who wants to be the best sailor in the world. This beautifully illustrated story includes a flying boat.  Students can use this text to pair with story writing, and can rework possible endings for the young sailor.  Young writers can also predict what connections they believe the old man has to the boat.

Chris Van Allsburg


Yorinks, A. (1986). Hey, Al. (Ill. Richard Egielski). Toronto, Canada: Collins Publishers.

Picture Book

Reading Level: 3rd

Lexile Level: 320L

Interest Level: Pre-K- 3rd

Al, a janitor and his buddy Eddie the dog, live a humble and simple life in a small studio apartment.  Quarters are tight, and Eddie demands more, an opportunity of a life time presents itself to the duo. They are transported to a mysterious island inhabited by birds, things become strange and they decide they must abandon paradise. This Caldecott winner has rich illustrations by Richard Egielski, and is filled with descriptive vocabulary.  Readers can use this text for a lesson is finding the joy in what one has. This text can also be used with writing instruction with adding details and narrative.

Arthur Yorinks


Dipucchio, K. & Myers, M. (2011). Clink. New York: Balzer and Bray.

Picture Book:

Reading Level: 3rd

Lexile Level: N/A

Interest Level: Pre-K- 3


Clink is a robot, who is not so modern anymore, and is feeling a bit embarrassed of his primary functions of making burned toast and playing music.  He sits in the robot store while all the others get picked to go home with people. Clink eventually loses hope, and decides to stop trying until a little boy named, Milton, walks in who might just be a perfect fit. The illustrations by Myers are humorous and whimsical. This text can be used with lessons on self-acceptance and appreciating one’s own strengths. Extension activities could be to create a robot with certain skills.  Writing extension activities could be to continue the story between Milton and Clink.

Kelly Dipucchio


Wiesner, D. (2013).  Mr. Wuffles! Boston, MA: Clarion Books

Picture Book

Reading Level: N/A

Lexile Level: N/A

Interest Level: Pre-K- 4th

Mr. Wuffles is the classic cat story who has zero interest in the toys his owners select for him. He does however discover a tiny spacecraft, and becomes obsessed playing with it. The “little green men” inside must abandon the spacecraft to find materials to fix it.  They are spotted by Mr. Wuffles and seek shelter with some ants and ladybugs underneath the radiator. The creatures work together and find a solution to the broken space ship.  There are very few little dialog as only the owners can speak. Wisner’s illustrations are intricate and filled with details.

David Wiesner

space dog

Grey, M. (2015). Space dog.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Picture Book

Reading Level: 3rd

Lexile Level:

Interest Level: Kindergarten- 3rd

Space Dog is content exploring space on his own.  He seizes the opportunity to rescue his rival Astro Cat and they become fast friends and companions. Then together the duo saves Moustronaut, and the trio are all surprised about how great a team they are. This book is fast with action and adventure, young readers who like space travel will appreciate their challenges. The broader theme of unlikely friends can be woven into a lesson on how people are more alike that it seems.

Mini Grey


Henkes, K. & Dronzek, L. (2016). When spring comes.  New York: Harper Collins Children’s Books.

Picture Book

Reading Level: 2nd

Lexile Level: 500L

Interest Level: Preschool-2nd grade.

This delightful book pairs contrasting pages between the seasons winter and spring. Henkes’ picture book describes the aspects of the season along with guiding readers to make observations of their own.  This text has repetition throughout.  This text would work well with repeated readings for reader’s theater. And would fit in with a Science unit on the changing seasons. The illustrations by Dronzek, are crisp and sweet.  Extension activities could be allowing students a chance to describe what spring is like in their community, and pair their descriptions with drawings.

Kevin Henkes