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…
- Show your students the drawings or photographs.
- Tell them about where you remember reading the book.
- Under a blanket with a flashlight?
- At a grandparent’s house?
- Was there a particular illustration that you remember poring over?
- Was there a page you quickly sped past in fear?
- Was there a particular character you cheered for or despised?
- Explain how you connected with your book.
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 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_yungTweet
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:
- Guggenheim Fellowship (2005)
- Lifetime Achievement Award from the San Francisco Bay Guardian (2001)
- Founding member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company
- Traveling Artist to Kyoto from the Japan/U.S. Commission on the Arts
- Creator of Air Mail Dances, an interpretive form of choreography
- Library of Congress Exhibition (1997): A Celebration of Remy Charlip
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:
- Build a student-made bulletin board
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.)
- Assign “author study mini-presentations“
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:
- Slide one: cover image of the book
- Slide two: author’s biographical info
- Slide three: career info
- Slide four: recap or summary of the student’s favorite book
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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