Top Ten Tuesday Back to School

The Broke and the Bookish host a weekly meme called Top Ten Tuesday.

Each week they nominate a topic to encourage those of us who love a good list to get all listy.
This week it’s all about back to school…except that it’s not back to school time for Australians.
Far from it – we’re currently half way through Term 3 of our four term school year.
And most of the kids are counting down the days until the September school holidays.

So instead, my schoolish top ten this week, will take us back to my preschool teaching days.

For 18 years I read so many picture books every day to so many children and classes that you’d think that they would have blurred together. But of course the gems stick out.
The really good ones always do.

This list focuses on my best books to read aloud to a group of children
For anyone who has done this, you will know exactly what I mean, because some books work better as a read aloud to a group than others.
Reading aloud to a group of children is a performance.
You need stories with drama and action.

The ten books below, worked every single time.

My Top Ten Read Aloud Books for Preschoolers


Titch by Pat Hutchins

This was my book choice for the first day of the new school year.
It’s all about change and growth and yearning to be ‘big’.

A classic that divides.
But it always generated fascinating discussions.
The nature of these discussions told me a lot about the class I had in front of me and guided my future book choices for them.


A Lion in the Meadow by Margaret Mahy

It’s fun to be scared whilst in a safe, secure environment.
The power of imagination let loose in this beautiful story had the ability to frighten and console at the same time.


The Spooky Old Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain

I can probably retell this story in my sleep.
One particular class insisted I read this book every day for 6 months. We made a board game of it and re-enacted it at every opportunity. It tapped into some deep need/fear that took 6 months to be sated.
With some classes I had to dial the scare factor down to zero, but other classes screamed for more and again, again!


Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll and Jan Pienkowski

This was my rainy day go-to sure fire hit.
I had a wonderful CD of the first four Meg and Mog books retold by Maureen Lipman.
The sound effects and tone were brilliant.
They captivated every single class (& teaching assistant that I ever worked with.)
I even had a black pair of shoes just like Meg!

The perfect book to celebrate being who you are.

The fear of getting in trouble and being lost drive this story about life on the Yangtze River.


Koala Lou by Mem Fox

A potent mix of fear of failure and love in the Australian bush.

Thanks to a full-on play day, Harry changes so much that his family does not recognise him any longer. How can Harry prove who he is and that he belongs?

The Deep by Tim Winton

I love this book so much.
The illustrations are truly beautiful and the language is lyrical and spot on.
I always saved this book for the end of the year. 
Term 4 usually saw the start of swimming lessons which meant that a number of children had to confront their fear of water and the deep.
Winton encourages us to trust and to embrace our worst fears.

The thing that all ten of these books have in common is fear.
Each and every one of these stories touches on a deep childhood fear – whether it’s being lost, scared of water, the dark, change, fear of failure or our own imaginations – these deeply held fears have created stories that are timeless and universal.

And there were so many more I could have added – like Make Way For the Ducklings, The Gingerbread Man, The Elephant and The Bad Baby, The Hobyahs, Dogger, Caps For Sale and Are You My Mother….
Back in the beginning, when this blog was more about children’s books, I compiled several lists about picture books to read with your preschooler. It seems like the right time to revisit them.

13 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday Back to School

  1. I used to love it when the teachers read to us at school, especially in the elementary grades when they'd read slightly longer books. This is a great list, I remember the Giving Tree and several of the different berenstain Bears books. Titch looks cute too.


  2. Great list! I had a red hardcover Meg and Mog book with different stories in it when I was little. According to my mum I was kind of obsessed with it and it would be the book I got her to read to me before bed every night for months! 😀


  3. The Deep and Koala Lou are particularly Australian. On my right sidebar is a link to all the picture books I've talked about on here – the Aussie ones have an (A) in front of them.


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