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I love when other teachers recommend books that they think are special, unique, and will have the kids LOVING reading. I have teamed up with Scholastic to bring you a few BACK TO SCHOOL picture books that are perfect for building community and building laughs within your classroom. 


I truly believe in the statement above. EVERY kid deserves the right to read. It hurts my heart when I hear educators say, "But, I don't have time to do a read aloud". Teaching our students that reading for fun is a priority is a common goal that I share in my classroom. If we want our kids to read academically, we must first give them opportunities to see themselves as a reader. They will not love reading if all they do is annotate passages. Give them REAL BOOKS and allow them to dive head first and learn about themselves.

I share the following with my parents to highlight the value of Scholastic Books

"Dear Parents of Awesome Readers,
       This year, I hope all of my students will bask in the glory of good books. I am a true believe that readers get to go on many free vacations and learn more about themselves through the eyes of book characters.  Scholastic Book Clubs is one of my favorite companies that does so much to support school libraries and teachers. The prices of all the books are quite reasonable and they give many free books to classrooms. The more the kids order the more free books I get to hand select for my classroom. Reading is one of my favorite moments each day because I see my students grow as people and readers. "

If you only get 5 books in the month of September for your classroom, here is what I recommend! Please note I am looking at all of these books with a 5th grade lens. I will read these books during OPEN THE MAGIC and to facilitate content. I have linked all about the books for you to easily find on Scholastic's website.

Adam Rex
Why I LOVE: I thought about how many kids say they do not like school and how I can fix that. I think when something is new many kids turn to frustration before trying. This book gives great examples on how to overcome the uncomfortable. It is great to teach multiple perspectives. 

Ame Dyckman
Why I LOVE: ALL teachers need this book in their classrooms! ALL. So many times kids are misunderstood or given titles from previous teachers. Real Talk: This book gave me a wake up call. I promised myself this year, I was going to see every kid with a new beginning no matter what I have heard before. This goes for kids as well. All kids deserve a new chance with each other. This book will be in my first 10 picture book reads this year during OPEN THE MAGIC. 

Nick Seluk
Why I LOVE: I am always looking for informational texts for Science that will intrigue the students. This one is perfect for our 5th grade planet unit. The illustrations are fun, but it is chalked full of great information about the Sun and planets. 

Brad Meltzer
Why I LOVE: Here is another informational text that is rich with information, but in a fun and artist way. Kids learn from these books because they are kid friendly. There are many more books in this series- definitely one to have in the classroom for our Native American unit.

The Bad Seed- Jory John
Why I LOVE: I mean when you see Aaron and Jory...that is enough. Anything by these two authors I just love and so do the kids. Both of these are great back to school reads. I plan to use both of these books when I talk about "new year new you". Kids need reminders not only from their teachers and parents, but also from books that you always have the power to change. Both of these books would be perfect also for characterization and how a character's actions change over time.

Do you use Scholastic Book Clubs in your classroom? If you don't, what are you waiting for?

I am so excited to be introducing MAGIC WEAR! My hope is you will wear this proudly as you OPEN THE MAGIC in your classrooms and spread the love of reading. Mia Reign Boutique and I have worked so hard to create the perfect pieces for your wardrobe. 

To order just click the MAGIC ORDER link

We are selling vneck tshirts, sweatshirts, tumblers, and tanks. Check out how I styled them below. Fun fact about me, I use to go into homes and style outfits for women with the clothes they had in their closet. Happy Shopping!

Open The Magic Crew-Neck Pullover $26
on back: #picturebooksaremyjam 
Comes in black, grey, navy blue, maroon, and military green
Sizes: S-2XL


Open The Magic Tank Top $20
on back: #picturebooksaremyjam 
Comes in black, white, heather grey, navy blue, red, and pink
Sizes: XS-2XL



Open The Magic V-Neck Tshirt $22
on back: #picturebooksaremyjam 
Comes in black, white, navy blue, gray, and maroon
Sizes: XS-2XL



Open The Magic Tumbler $8
Comes in black, pink, and blue

To order just click the MAGIC ORDER link.

Looking for great Valentine's books? Come hang out with me on Teachers Who Love Amazon as I share some of my LOVES.


There is something magical about a well told story. Every word read is a sparkle in the air about to touch your heart. Memories of Rakestraw Books in Danville, California, multiple trips to the local library, and tons of nights laying in my parents bed as my mom read every picture book from the well loved stack has developed me into a reader. The story I just told isn't the gift that every child unwraps.

The strong push for complex texts, common core, non-fiction, annotation, AR tests, vocabulary development, fluency, phonics, dibels, standardized tests...the list could go on forever has diminished the love of reading all over the world.  While I understand the importance of former reading lingo, I am afraid the love of reading will continue to loose sight in the eyes of children.  Now, don't get me wrong; there are still plenty of students who love to read, but there are TOO many who are still on the side of caution.

Did you know as a kid I did not like to read? It was hard, the words jumbled, my head felt foggy, and I just wanted to give up. BUT! I had parents and teachers who modeled what reading does for a child. Read alouds, libraries, books all around, English teachers, book lovers, magazines, book stores, and book celebrations showed me reading a book can be a special gem. This is one of the main reasons I feel so passionate about opening the magic in a classroom.

OPEN THE MAGIC is my way of sharing with my students that reading is a magical gift that we all deserve no matter how many pages. There are many layers to my vision of Open the Magic. Any time I use a picture book we are opening the magic. My choice is to use picture books, but maybe in your classroom you use chapter books or magazines. You can create OPEN THE MAGIC how you see best fit for your readers. When my students see OPEN THE MAGIC on the schedule, there have been sightings of dance parties at their seats. Room 20 loves picture books. Why? Because I have made it a PRIORITY in my classroom to share that picture books can ignite magic inside a reader.

What is Open The Magic with some FUN?
It is my way of spreading my love for reading and picture books in hopes my students will in turn find themselves to be a reader. A special set time where Miss Hinshaw (that's me) reads a picture book to her class just because. NO strings attached. Just 30 fifth graders and me hanging out reading a picture book. Whether you believe me or not, THIS develops readers! THIS develops students who LOVE to read. The more your students see you reading, the more they will be intrigued to pick up a picture book, a chapter book, a magazine, an owner's manual, a recipe card or a textbook. Honestly, I use picture books for everything! When I am teaching adjectives, you bet I have found a picture book to help me guide the lesson.

What is the PURPOSE of OTM?
To spread my love of reading, I take this time to connect with my students. This is such a special time in my room where I reach all students.  I want them to see themselves inside each picture book that I read. Every picture book I select there is a lesson. Not an academic lesson, but a life lesson.

 As the kids listen to the story, I know they are creating connections inside their brains, filing away words for their next narrative writing piece, or remembering a favorite part to share with their families when they get home. If you are still on the fence about the power of a picture book, share this with your students, teacher friends, and parents. What can a picture book do is a blog post I wrote sharing a picture book can be for every human. 

It is not a time to make the students do annotations, take a test, ask a million in one reading comprehension questions, or write a reading reflection.Please know that I do believe annotating texts and learning from text is very important and crucial in today's world. I just worry (I seriously do) that the love reading is losing, lets get it to become an equal!  *Don't worry; I still do this with other picture books during academic lessons. Pretty much whenever I am reading a picture book for any reason, the kids and I call it Open the Magic. #Truth- One day I read a picture book for every lesson. It was epic!

If you are interested in how I use picture books in my academic lessons, click the following blog posts to learn more:

What books I use for Open The Magic:
Before you continue to read, check out my post on how to get books for free or at a reduced price! I know; I want all books too. {Where to get Books}. Below here are some of my new 2018 reads that I will share during Open the Magic....
There are many educators who share their love reading through picture books. Check how they open the magic:

 Jillian Heise, creator of the hashtag #classroombookoftheday, encourages you to read 1 picture book every day for 180. Yes, please do this!!! I think it is so awesome and a great way to OPEN THE MAGIC in your classroom. Check out her post! I love that we both think the power of a picture book for older kids is a must do!

Lauren from @happily.ever.elephants

Michelle from @the.book.report

Amazon Affiliate Links were used in this post to help me purchase more books to share with you!

Join Ramona Recommends and many educators all around the world to celebrate OPEN THE MAGIC day on September 25th. Picture books are for all readers. ALL READERS include every human. All you have to do is read a picture book to your class. The more we promote the love of reading the more students will celebrate with us. If you are on social media, snap a picture of this joyous moment in your classroom and use the hashtag #openthemagicday.

Hello teachers! I’m here to talk about how we, as middle and high school ELA teachers, can incorporate children’s books into our classroom.  Specifically, I am going to discuss five ways you can use BabyLit picture books to teach literary classics!  If you are hesitant, stick with me and you’ll find some simple tricks that can elevate these incredibly designed books into a learning tool for teens.

First, let’s talk a bit about these BabyLit books you’ll see in the photos throughout this post. The authors, Alison Oliver and Jennifer Adams, take literary classics and simplify them for younger ages.  Think of a classic and I’m willing to bet they have it! While at Barnes & Noble, I had the most challenging time selecting which ones I wanted to use, but I ended up with: Romeo & Juliet, Alice in Wonderland, Sense & Sensibility, The Secret Garden, and The Odyssey.  I’ll definitely be back to purchase A Christmas Carol, Little Women, and a few of the other 26 options they have available, too! So, now that we have the books, how can we teach them? 

Reading some of these challenging classics can be difficult even for your most experienced readers. Therefore, using these children’s books to teach literary elements is a great way to help your students develop a better understanding of the events taking place throughout the story.  Some literary elements I would use include: theme, main idea, imagery, conflict, and symbolism.  For example, in the BabyLit version of Romeo & Juliet, the authors use numbers to describe key events in the tragic comedy. ACTIVITY: Ask students to describe the symbolism behind each of the pages using textual evidence from Shakespeare’s original.

Using the BabyLit novels to teach plot structure is probably one of the most effective ways to use these books! After reading the original classic, use the children’s version to recap the key events that occurred by labeling the pages: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.  For instance, in BabyLit version of The Odyssey, the characters and major events are all included! Students will be able to visualize the plot structure with the graphics and text on each of the pages.  ACTIVITY: ask students to fill in the missing pieces of the picture book by designing their own graphics and elements from the text.

If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or TpT, you know that I am a HUGE proponent of independent reading assignments.  As soon as I saw these BabyLit books in the store, my mind immediately went to assigning students individual classics based on their interests.  ACTIVITY: Choose 7 classics, split your class into 7 groups, and assign each group an original version of the classic paired with the BabyLit version of the classic.  Before reading the original, ask students to read the BabyLit classic and foreshadow the events that may occur throughout the text!

One of my favorite things about the BabyLit children’s books is the illustrator’s ability to capture the appearance of the characters and symbols of the original without appearing too childish.  They are actually quite accurate—specifically in Sense & Sensibility, Romeo & Juliet, and The Secret Garden.  You can easily use these books to teach characterization and quote analysis.  For example, in The Secret Garden, each page has an important quote from the novel paired with a visual.  ACTIVITY: Ask students to describe the importance/relevance of each quote provided in the BabyLit version using evidence from the text in the original!

This is my favorite way to use children’s books of any kind (not just BabyLit) in the classroom.  After reading a novel with your class, ask students to become authors of their own by assigning a DIY children’s book activity. Using this FREE resource I created, prompt your students to choose a literary element and design a children’s book based on the original text.  You can download the free DIY Children’s Book for Middle and HighSchool English here! You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how creative your students can be and how simplifying a classic can truly impact the level of comprehension.  Be sure to use a BabyLit book as an example of expectations.
If you’re interested in more hands-on interactive resources for reading literature, please visit my Instagram, Facebook, or Teachers pay Teachers store! 

Learn how to use children's books in other grades here:

Looking for more engaging reading literature resources for middle & high school English? Check out The SuperHERO Teacher's blog, Instagram, and Facebook page! 

All the best, 
Brittany Wheaton
The SuperHERO Teacher

Hi y'all!  I am Katie King from Queen of the First Grade Jungle! I taught first grade for seven years and second grade for three years.  I am currently on a teaching hiatus to take care of two year old son, but this does not mean I have stopped loving #allthebooks!  In fact I think my obsession has only grown as I closely watch my three children partake in their journey with books and reading. Here is a peek at my at home library: 

And that's only about half!  Okay, enough chatter I would love to talk to you about five books that I think are essential to EVERY classroom!

Book #1Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles Illustrated by: Rod Clement

Why you need it: BE WHO YOU AREBesides having some of the best illustrations of ANY book I have ever read, I also love the message within the pages.  I chose to read the book on the first day of school every year for the last seven school years, because I want my students to know that who they are deep inside, is exactly who they are supposed to be! This book helps me to set that tone right off the bat!

Summary:  Edward envies the attention that other animals receive in the zoo so he hops from exhibit to exhibit trying to change who he is.  Students sit in suspense as they try to guess which animal Edward will imitate next. A surprise ending will send the kids into a fit of giggles.  If your kids fall for Edward, do not worry! There is a SEQUEL! 

Book #2Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson Illustrated by: E.B. Lewis

Why you need it: WORDS MATTER.  In a world where people type hateful comments or say things without thinking of the repercussions, we need to instill in our children that words are important and that they matter. While saying you are "sorry" can help things get back on the right track, we can't ever fully take away the pain we cause with hurtful words.

Summary: Maya is a new girl in the class. Her clothes are very worn and her toys are old.  She becomes an easy target for the girls at school.  After Maya leaves to go to another new school. Chloe realizes all too late the damage she has caused.  There is no mushy ending to this tale, and I think that was an excellent choice by Woodson. 

Book #3
Iggy Peck by Andrea Beaty  Illustrated by: David Roberts

Why you need it: STEM.  If you have not been living under a rock, you have heard the new push for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) resources in the classroom.  Andrea Beaty is an absolute wizard with words and David Roberts' quirky drawings pull kids into the text.  After reading Iggy Peck, make sure to visit with Rosie Revere and Ada Twist as well! 

Summary: Iggy Peck LOVES to build.  He will use any and all materials to make the most amazing of creations.  He arrives to 2nd grade and immediately feels stifled by his teacher who hates architecture. The horror! She has a change of heart when Iggy uses his engineering skills to rescue his class from a sticky situation!

Book #4:  Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwell  

Why you need it: REPRESENTATION MATTERS.  For a long time I didn't pay attention to the skin color of the characters in my classroom library.  BIG mistake on my part. All of our students deserve to see themselves represented in the pages of picture books (and not just by athletes and social justice leaders either).  Taking that into account, I love the storyline as well! The lesson of the book would serve as a nice analogy about trying new things in life.  Just jump on in the water!

Summary: Jabari is SO excited about jumping off the high dive.  As he begins the long climb up the ladder he begins to doubt himself.  With encouragement from his dad he finds the necessary courage and doesn't regret it!  Cornwell does a wonderful jump off walking you through the range of emotions that Jabari experiences on his adventure. 

Book #5:  I Dissent by Debbie Levy Illustrated by: Elizabeth Baddeley  

Why you need it: ROLE MODELS.  Picture books allow our young students access to people who can serve as wonderful role models in their lives. I also love how the author highlighted Ginsburg's friendship Justice Scalia, who Ginsburg frequently disagreed with on big issues. 

Summary: In 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the first Jewish woman justice of the Supreme Court.  The author takes us on a journey through her childhood, college years, and marriage.   We learn that Ginsburg was very different from other girls her age and that that's not a bad thing!  

I hope you enjoyed by book selections and consider adding all five books to your classroom library if you haven't already!

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