Picture Book Month: Week Three-Book Tasting

The sounds of smooth jazz filled the air as students cued up outside the Resource Center..  It was our first book tasting of the year.

Let’s have a book tasting!

I greeted them at the door festooned with my chef hat and apron and a very corny French accent.  “Velcome to ze book cafe, I am your host, Monsieur Burleson. I have prepared for you some of the very best books. Please come in and find a seat at one of our finest tables.” 

My associate, Crystal, was all in and helped make this week’s book tasting a success.

At this point, many kids were totally amused and a bit put off, but I continued, dropping the French accent, to explain that we would be sampling some of the best books of the year and a few classics sprinkled in for flavor. Many of the books I chose also tied into our SEL focus. If you would like to look at the book list I used for this activity, you can access it HERE. I shared the placemat with them and explained that they would be exploring the large stack of books on the table and rating and making notes about why they rated the books the way they did. I used a simple timer with peaceful music to mark our rotations and set the kids off to enjoy their feast.  We did a couple of ten-minute rotations and then shared with partners at our table.

You know your ‘tasting’ is a success when students ask to check out picture books so that they can finish reading them! I thoroughly enjoyed sitting and reading beside students and having conversations about books.  This was a playful and fitting way to end our picture book month activities.  

Picture Book Month: Week Two (Identifying Author’s Purpose)

This is the graphic I used to help introduce author’s purpose.

Week two’s objective was to explore author’s purpose with students through picture books. I began by connecting author’s purpose to work that I knew students had done previously in their writer’s notebooks. We talked about how writing changes depending on the purpose and the audience. I then read a powerful new picture book Lubna and Pebble.

In this book, Lubna, a refugee child from a nondescript war torn country arrives on a beach and finds a pebble which becomes her best friend. The soft, dark illustrations set a tone of somber contemplation that begin and end with full page spread of the face of a child. Lubna shares her pebble as a way to give friendship and peace to a new immigrant. The cycle of kindness is a central theme of this rich and powerful book.


I shared this book with the students as an example of pure entertainment as the author’s purpose. I intentionally did not choose a humorous book because I wanted to show students that entertainment can be more than humor. They were fully engrossed as I read this book aloud to them.

After reading, we viewed this graphic I created in google drawings. We talked about the book and cited several pieces of evidence of the author’s purpose.

Next, the students, in teams of three, chose from a stack of books at their tables. I explained to them that the books they were choosing from would have the author’s purpose of persuade or inform. They would choose one, read it and give three pieces of evidence as to the author’s purpose.

We wrapped up the lesson by sharing out our titles and our evidence for the author’s purpose. Students and teachers enjoyed the process. I enjoyed the conversations students were having trying to justify their thinking!