Ten books to read on Zoom

Like many of you, I’ve been reading to kids on Zoom this year. I discovered that my favorite way to share books is by turning them into Google slideshows. I’ve done about 200 books, so I’ve had a chance to perfect the process! There’s been a lot of trial and error, but I’m happy to share what I’ve learned if you want to contact me (jkdawson115@gmail.com). It’s a strange feeling to read this way, though, as often the kids are muted, and I can’t see all–or sometimes any–of their faces.

I’ve found that the books that the kids and I have enjoyed the most are the ones that are most interactive. There’s a bit of a learning curve to figure out how to read the book and also be able to see the kids, but it’s worth it to be able to have a conversation with your students. (I know many teachers use more than one screen to facilitate this, but so far I’ve just been on my laptop.) I’ve put together this list of the ten books that have worked the best for me and have brought me some much-needed joy in this crazy year of remote education.

Journey by Aaron Becker

Published by Candlewick

Amazon.com: Journey (Aaron Becker's Wordless Trilogy) (9780763660536):  Becker, Aaron, Becker, Aaron: Books

I’m starting with the one book I haven’t actually tried on Zoom yet. I have it in my plans to do in a couple of weeks. Creating a story for this amazing wordless book has always been a popular activity. I start by having the kids come up with names for the girl, the boy, and the bird. I’m hoping to either write or type the story as the kids make it up, then go back and read it again with their words. I’ll be trying this out with second grade.

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

Published by Candlewick

Du Iz Tak? (E. B. White Read-Aloud Award. Picture Books): Ellis, Carson,  Ellis, Carson: 9780763665302: Amazon.com: Books

I’ve never felt an inclination to read this book in person, but it was perfect for Zoom. Together we puzzled out the insects’ language, and Zoom made it easier to see the illustrations up close and to flip back to past pages to see how different words had been used. Second grade.

Take Away the A by Michal Escoffier

Published by Enchanted Lion Press

Take Away the A: Escoffier, Michaël, Di Giacomo, Kris: 9781592701568: Amazon.com:  Books

I inserted my own slides to have the kids guess before showing the illustrations. So before the first page, I had a slide that said “Take the A away from BEAST” with all the letters in black except for two red A’s. The kids would figure out that it would be “best”, then I’d go to the next slide which had the word and the illustration. I got some positive teacher feedback on this one. Second grade.

Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do by by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook, illustrated by Andy Robert Davies

Published by Charlesbridge

Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do: Heling, Kathryn, Hembrook, Deborah,  Davies, Andy Robert: 9781580892520: Amazon.com: Books

This cute book has rhyming text and a picture of different workers’ clothes on a clothesline. Kids guess who those clothes belong to, then you turn the page to see if they’re right. This team has also created similar books about sports and the first day of school. Kindergarten.

A Children’s Zoo by Tana Hoban

Published by Greenwillow Books

A Children's Zoo: Hoban, Tana, Hoban, Tana: 9780688052027: Amazon.com: Books

An oldie but a goodie that I’ve used for years. Each page has a photo of a zoo animal and three words that describe it. I give the three words and the kids have to guess the animal before I show the picture. I didn’t use Google Slides for this one, just held up the book to the camera, but if I had it to do again, I would. You could insert slides with the three word between the illustrations. If you have time, kids can make up their own when you’re done reading. First and second grades.

Biggest, Strongest, Fastest by Steve Jenkins

Published by HMH Books for Young Readers

Biggest, Strongest, Fastest: Jenkins, Steve: 0046442861366: Amazon.com:  Books

One of my all-time favorites, this book also required me to insert slides with the record for each animal (e.g., the strongest animal for its size), then have the kids guess before going to the slide with the book page (ant). Kids and teachers loved this; my assistant principal observed this lesson and said she was shouting the answers to her computer screen (fortunately, she was muted). First and second grades.

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

Published by Candlewick

Amazon.com: I Want My Hat Back (9780763655983): Klassen, Jon, Klassen, Jon:  Books

I’m happy to report that yes, readers’ theater is possible on Zoom. I typed up a script from this book and color-coded the different parts to help kids recognize their lines, then shared my screen so everyone could read from it. The book also has color-coded lines, and I read it before we did the play. It was a big hit with second graders!

Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons by Sara Levine, illustrated by T. S. Spookytooth

Published by Millbrook Press

Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons: Levine, Sara, Spookytooth, T.S:  9780761384649: Amazon.com: Books

Another book that allows kids to guess before you turn the page. What kind of animal would you be if you had extra long leg bones and short arm bones? (A kangaroo or a rabbit). I got some positive teacher feedback on this one, as they had just completed a science unit on animal body parts. First grade.

Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar

Published by HarperCollins

Amazon.com: Sideways Stories from Wayside School: Louis Sachar, Adam  McCauley, Julie Brincklo: Books

One of my readers’ theater go-to books. I got the scripts from Aaron Shepard long ago, which I have edited and added to over the years Again, I created a color-coded script, and did four of the chapters with third grade enrichment groups.

Small in the City by Sydney Smith

Published by Neal Porter Books

Small in the City: Smith, Sydney: 9780823442614: Amazon.com: Books

This is a great book for inferencing and predicting. Zoom allowed the kids to get a close look at the illustrations which are key to figuring out what is going on in the story. First and second grades.

I still have seven more weeks of school, so I could use some more ideas! Feel free to share your best Zoom books in the comments.

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