Picture Books Sana Grew Up Reading In School


A lot of kids and adults alike ask me which books impacted me the most. I don’t know if it is my crazy imagination, my quirky humor, or a combination of both, but I haven’t been a stranger to this sort of curiosity since my school years. Today it is especially adorable to watch and talk to kids who read for pleasure and ask me for book recommendations.

As a book lover growing up in Pakistan, I was no stranger to books from Europe (especially British authors) and American literature. If someone would ask which “type” of literature I preferred at the time, I would say British. Even prior to the Harry Potter Series (See HERE) Era, British literature contained some of the wildest and imaginative stories. American literature, on the other hand, I called more “realistic” and relatable. In college, I continued my love for European literature by reading authors from European influences. Other personal selections of mine can be accessed HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

My Memories That Will Help You Select Picture Book Titles

I know my reading behavior in school was largely impacted by my school teachers and my friends. Our group of 15 pretty much went to the same school (Beacon House Public School) even though it had many branches scattered within major cities. We were avid book lovers enough to form a secret book club. Each morning (and sometimes during lunch) or after school, we would get together and discuss the books we were reading and recommended books to read. Since there more boys than girls, there were plenty of discussions of Hardy Boys, while I pressured the rest of the gang to read Enid Blyton.

Some of my best memories were from Kindergarten – 2nd grade. The teachers from the rest of the grades focused mostly on math and sciences, which I (but not the rest of my friends) was very upset about at the time. But by those grades, I was reading on my own so it made sense they utilize classroom time in other ways. I just read on my own the rest of the time.

We had one teacher for all 3 years. The school did that looping on purpose because not only this way the teacher is able to focus on other skills (instead of teaching students how to adjust all the time), but she could plan and teach overlapping curriculum across three years and scaffold each student developmentally. Needless to say, this forward-thinking teacher of mine was and is my favorite teacher of all times (even though I would call almost all of them my favorite).

Some of the best memories I had were about her teaching us how to read. While the curriculum dictated we learn grammar and writing, she was the one who made reading “fun” by letting us focus on pictures during “Read Aloud” time. I remember I was so into these “Read Aloud” moments that she let me choose picture books before school. I would either pick a pile or select a book one at a time to ask her if they/it were appropriate. Depending on what skill or lesson she was trying to teach us that day she would say yes or no. We would tease each other a lot during this time. I may have learned my wit from these cherished moments. While the rest of the students (except my friends) weren’t interested in reading, I would relish the time. It was a joke between us and her because whenever she would say time for reading aloud my face would light up and my friends would laugh. Even though the school had a library she had her own personal collection in the classroom which can be accessed online (See HERE). This teacher was a friend of hers. On the days my teacher was the one selecting book titles she would pick the same books over and over again because according to her we would find new stuff each time in books. A great life lesson I taught my 4th-grade students as well in my elementary school classroom.

From the list, the book “I Went Walking” (See HERE) she had me think about. I looked through the pictures and decided no because we weren’t ready for it. She asked me why. I replied because it has a picture of a pig in it and that I don’t know how the rest of the students would react to that. So we figured if I was uncomfortable the rest of the students will be uncomfortable too so she told me to put it back. Other books I remember on her bookshelf for various reading levels were “Where’s Spot?” (See HERE), “Dear Mr. Henshaw” (See HERE), and “The Secret Garden” (See HERE).

Picture Book Titles On My Teacher’s Classroom Shelf

The following book titles were available in Pakistan much sooner than the United States because they were published there first. Due to their popularity, the United States decided to publish these books themselves after getting copyrights so the publication dates mentioned are much much later than the original European publishing dates. Books my teacher read to us were “But Not The Hippopotamus” (See HERE), “The Going To Bed Book” (See HERE), “Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book (See HERE), “The Very Busy Spider” (See HERE), this “The Magic School Bus” Book (See HERE), “Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Diary” (See HERE), “Where’s My Teddy?” (See HERE), “Animalia” (See HERE), “The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery” (See HERE),  Mister Magnolia (See HERE), Franklin In The Dark (See HERE), “Hattie And The Fox (See HERE), “Possum Magic” (See HERE), “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” (See HERE), “Edwina The Emu” (See HERE) (See HERE), Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (See HERE), “I Love You, Stinky Face” (See HERE), “The Paper Bag Princess” (See HERE), “Mouse Paint” (See HERE), “The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear” (See HERE). Surprisingly, I didn’t read “Owl Moon” or “Polar Express” which were brand new titles at the time. They are some of my top favorite picture books for children today.

I am so grateful to this teacher because she really instilled a love of reading in me. I learned how to read because of her, began making personal and worldly connections, and generally learned some of the most important life lessons from her. A big thanks to her to get us where we are today.

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