Site icon ELA Brave and True by Marilyn Yung

New Back-to-School First Day Activity

Share your favorite childhood storybook with students

One way to get to know your students is by sharing with them a glimpse into your own personality. Do exactly that by sharing with them your favorite childhood storybook. If you’re lucky enough to still have a copy of that favorite book (you’ve no doubt moved a few times since then!), pull it out, dust it off, and take it to school.

Think of it as a Day One show-and-tell activity that will resonate with sixth-graders through seniors. Share with your students what elements of the book resonated with you as a child. Read a few pages, or depending on the length of the book, you may want to read it in total. All ages enjoy a read-aloud.

As you hold up your book and pass it around the room…

In short, engage your students in the magic of reading and literature.

And, it might be a good idea to purchase an extra copy if you can. I have two copies of my favorite storybook just in case one ever becomes lost, since I always take a copy to keep and show in my classroom.

Here’s my favorite childhood storybook: Arm in Arm by Remy Charlip

Arm in Arm by Remy Charlip turned my childhood reading time on its head. The book is artistic-psychedelic-mystical-poetic and just plain weird. I loved it.

Arm in Arm by Remy Charlip helped me fall in love with reading. Every other page or so contains a fanciful little story that often involves repetition, rhyme, humor, and nonsense. The book contains about thirty of these whimsical tales that captivated me as a child and held me spellbound with their funky imagery, quirky conversations, and tricky wordplay.

Here’s a sneak peek:

This book taught me to dream. I would spend so much time looking at these strange, whimsical illustrations.

The facing page is shown in the next picture.

See what I mean?

Arm in Arm by Remy Charlip gave me a world of reading to fall into that didn’t always make sense, that was colorful, and full of possibility. And best of all… absurdity was allowed. @marilyn_yung

During the years since childhood, I’ve learned a little about Charlip. His work was so avant garde that it didn’t usually make the best-selling reading lists or the high-trafficked areas at the popular bookstore of the time, Walden Books. However, Arm in Arm did win designation as one of the Ten Best Picture Books of the Year in 1969 by the New York Times.

According to The Remy Charlip Estate website, Charlip (1929-2012) enjoyed a long, prolific career in the arts that earned him the titles of painter, dancer, calligrapher, author, illustrator, costume designer, and more. Other notable honors include:

I guarantee that if you share your favorite childhood book with your students, you’ll be well on your way to establishing strong relationships with your kids. In fact, if you ask volunteers to share their favorite childhood book (and hopefully bring in a copy of it as well), I bet your first day activity will carry over into the next.

Build on “Your Favorite Storybook” with these add-ons:

A fun add-on would be to make copies of students’ favorite book covers to post on a bulletin board with each student’s name written alongside their book. (If students don’t have copies of their books, have them print out a cover image they find online.)

Another fun add-on would be to have students do a little research on their book’s author. For this activity, I would be totally fine with students using Wikipedia to find the basic info. However, make sure they also investigate their author’s website, if they have one. Tell students to search, for example, “Remy Charlip author website”.

To finish off the activity, have students create Google Slide presentations of three to four slides, as follows:

Have students share their presentations with you and project them to the whole class. Kids can present either in front of the class or from their chairs if that’s more comfortable or more suitable this early in the year. That’s your call… you’ll know how to approach it when you get there.

Thanks for reading! Getting out favorite books and sharing them with students shows them a glimpse of your personality and those things and ideas you personally value. Use the first days of the semester to get to know your students with the help of your favorite books.

What’s your favorite childhood read? Leave a comment below or drop me a message at my Contact page.

Have a great first day of school!

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