The proficiency levels
reflect the amount of text per page, overall complexity of language and
vocabulary, and level of the story's concreteness (vs. abstractness).
These levels are meant to guide teachers, not limit them; therefore, teachers
are encouraged to try any of these books with any group of students, editing,
simplifying, or amplifying as needed.
Association of Children's Librarians of Northern California (ACL)
has a website that includes storytime ideas and a "BayViews"
section with news, annotated book lists, and articles concerning children's
services and programming. Articles and storytime suggestions are added
on a monthly basis.
Hoban, T. (1987).
26 letters and 99 cents. New York: Greenwillow Books. This book
is useful for basic literacy focusing on numbers and money, letters,
and pictures. Its large, clear pictures suggest many teaching applications.
See also other basic concept books by the author (e.g., I Read Signs,
Hoban, T. (1997).
Construction zone. New York: Greenwillow Books. This book is
simple and clear. There is a picture of one piece of construction machinery
and one word per two-page spread. More vocabulary for construction workers
is provided at the back of the book.
Pomeroy, D. (1996).
One potato. A counting book of potato prints. New York: Harcourt
Brace. Each number (1-10, 20, 30, etc.) is associated with attractive
food, and each two-page spread is illustrated by an appetizing potato
Siddals, M. K.
(1997). Tell me a season. Illustrated by P. Mathers. The vocabulary
of seasons, colors, and nouns from nature comprises the minimal text
in this simple book. This book can also be used to introduce adjectives.
Linden, A.M. (1992).
One smiling grandma. A Caribbean counting book. Illustrated by
L. Russell. New York: Dial. This is an intergenerational story that
would suit a family literacy class.
Low, W. (1997).
Chinatown. New York: Henry Holt. Simple sentences and descriptive
illustrations capture daily life in New York's Chinatown. Celebration
of Chinese New Year is highlighted. The author/artist is from Chinatown.
Miranda, A. (1997).
To market, to market. Illustrated by J. Stevens. New York: Harcourt
Brace. This adult spoof on the classic children's nursery rhyme has
a repeated refrain, rhyming words, and food and animal vocabulary.
Morris, A. (1992).
Houses and homes. Photographs by K. Heyman. New York: Lothrop,
Lee & Shepard. Stunning, color photographs and limited text present
homes around the world. See also Bread, bread, bread (1989),
by the same author, photographer, and publisher, done with the same
mature style and multicultural approach.
Cox, J. (1998).
Now we can have a wedding. Illustrated by D. DiSalvo-Ryan. New
York: Holiday House. An inter-ethnic wedding is planned, and friends
and fellow tenants in their apartment building prepare food from around
the world for the celebration.
Garland, S. (1993).
The lotus seed. Illustrated by T. Kiuchi. New York: Harcourt
Brace Jovanovich. A single lotus seed provides continuity for a Vietnamese
family. The granddaughter tells her grandmother's emotional and traumatic
story in one to two sentences per page in a semi-poetic format. Some
challenging language and vocabulary is included.
Garza. C.L. (1996).
In my family/En mi familia. San Francisco, CA: Children's Book
Press. These authentic vignettes of family life in south Texas, by the
author and illustrator, a famous Mexican-American artist, are simply
written, with one topic per page. This is the sequel to Family pictures
(1989), by the same author and publisher.
Sakai, K. (1990).
Sachiko means happiness. Illustrated by T. Arai. Emeryville,
CA: Children's Book Press. In this Japanese family, roles change, as
the grandmother begins to lose her memory and her granddaughter learns
to accept her as she now is.
Say, A. (1993).
Grandfather's journey. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. This story is
about the author's grandfather, who journeyed between his two cultures--Japanese
and American. The sparse text has some challenging vocabulary and syntax.
Spenser, E. (1993).
A flag for our country. New York: Steck-Vaughn. This simply told
story of Betsy Ross and the making of the American flag has some difficult
grammatical patterns. It is good for citizenship and American history
Bartone, E. (1996).
American too. Illustrated by T. Lewin. New York: Lothrop, Lee
& Shepard. An Italian-American adolescent girl bridges two cultures.
New York City in the early 20th century comes alive with Lewin's artistry.
See also Peppe the lamplighter (1993), by the same author and
publisher, about an Italian-American boy who proudly works in a menial
job to help his family.
R. (1992). Leaving for America. Illustrated by M. Reisberg. San
Francisco, CA: Children's Book Press. Based on a true story, this Russian-Jewish
immigration saga highlights the trauma of leaving home. The inter-generational
story has a detailed story line and some complex sentence patterns.
Bunting, E. (1991).
Fly away home. Illustrated by R. Himler. New York: Clarion Books.
This story about homelessness has some grammatical complexity. See also
The wall (1990), by the same author, illustrator, and publisher,
about the Vietnam memorial.
Kurtz, J., &
Kurtz, C. (1997). Only a pigeon. New York: Simon & Schuster.
This journey into the urban life of modern Addis Ababa is told through
the eyes of an Ethiopian adolescent boy who works, goes to school, and
proudly raises pigeons. The prose is enhanced by realistic, soft watercolor
Lewin, T. (1997).
Fair! New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard. Lewin's large, colorful
and detailed illustrations accompany text about an American cultural
experience, the county fair. This book introduces a lot of vocabulary
in a number of verb tenses.
Maestro, B. (1996).
Coming to America. The story of immigration. Illustrated by S.
Ryan. New York: Scholastic. This illustrated history of immigration
is historically accurate, yet simplified for a picture book format.
It provides additional information at the end of the book (e.g., a table
Orr, K. (1990).
My grandpa and the sea. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda Books. The
wisdom of a simple fisherman is honored in this story, set on the Caribbean
island of St. Lucia. The intergenerational conflict lends itself to
(1993). Still a nation of immigrants. Photographs by J. Ashabranner.
New York: Cobblehill/Dutton. This 125-page book explores the issues
of immigration today. It is divided into chapters and also smaller subsections,
so a teacher can easily select a 3-5-page passage for classroom use.
It highlights successful immigrants from a range of cultures. Black
and white photographs enhance the text.
Nye, N. S. (1996).
The same sky. A collection of poems from around the world. New
York: Alladin. This selection of short, original poems was written by
children and adults from all over the world. It is organized into topics
(e.g., families, dreams, and dreamers). Marketed as a children's book,
the poetry has appeal for all ages.