FOR PRIMARY AND JUNIOR GRADES
"The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs" by Jon Scieszka
Most kids are already familiar with the story of the 3 Little Pigs, and they love this twist on the old favourite.
"Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" by Judi Barrett
This crazy, hilarious story becomes an instant favourite. The story is imaginative and unique. The pictures are amazingly detailed. It is nice to let the students look at this book up close, one at a time, after it has been read, so they can get a better look at the pictures. This story keeps even the busiest of classes quiet!
"A Bad Case of Stripes" by David Shannon
Although this book has been a little controversial, most kids love it. It deals with the pressure of conformity in a fun and silly way, and can be used for great discussions afterwards. Some younger kids find some of the pictures a little creepy.
"The Hickory Chair" by Lisa Rowe Fraustino and Benny Andrews
A very touching story about a boy who is blind and his relationship with his Grandmother. This book has a sense of adventure and amazingly detailed pictures. A very well written book and a kid favourite!
"The Balloon Tree" by Phoebe Gilman
This book is imaginative and colourful. It can also be good for starting a class discussion or written activity on what else the students wish could grow on trees.
"Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak
An old favourite. Can be enjoyed by children and adults alike. The illustrations are wonderful.
"Alligator Pie" by Dennis Lee and Frank Newfeld
A collection of memorable stories and poems, with great illustrations.
"Pigs in the Mud in the Middle of the Rud" by Lynn Plourde
A rhyming story about pigs that block the road. Works best with primary grades.
"The Dumb Bunnies" by Dav Pilkey
This book really gets primary grades laughing! It is quite hilarious, so make sure to follow up with a higher energy activity afterwards because they will be wound up! It is a quick, short read, so best with grades K - 2.
"Contrary Bear" by Phyllis Root
This is a story about a little girl who claims her teddy bear does mischevious things, not her! Kids get a kick out of the story, and they can relate. Best for primary grades.
"The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales" by Jon Scieszka
This book is full of hilariously silly versions of popular stories and fairy tales. Primary and Junior grades alike will enjoy the crazy stories. They are short stories, so you can read one, or many, depending on how much time is available.
"Matthew and the Midnight Money Van" by Allen Martchenko
This is a longer book that is great for classes that enjoy being read to, grades 2 - 4. A lot of crazy stuff happens, so it keeps the students' attention. It also involves lots and lots of money, which kids seem to enjoy! The pictures are great, and reminiscent of Robert Munsch books, specifically because it uses the same artist.
"The Short Tree and the Bird that Could Not Sing" by Dennis Foon
This book can be hard to find, but it is a real gem! It is a crazy story about friendship between a tree and a bird. Can even be related to curriculum - bird flies south for the winter and the tree loses all its leaves - for primary grades. The pictures are charming.
FOR INTERMEDIATE AND SENIOR GRADES
"Ripleys Believe it or Not" books, or "Guinness Book of World Records"
These books are great to bring along when substituting in late junior, intermediate or senior grade levels. It is hard to find books to read to these grade levels, since the books at their level are too long to read in a day. These books are full of interesting and weird facts and stories that really keep the older students attention. And, there is enough information in them that you can read for whatever length of time you choose.
"Strange But True Stories" by Janice Greene
Choose one or two of the strange but true short stories from this book to read to the class.
"Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul", "Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul", "Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul" by Jack Canfield
Any of the Chicken Soup books are full of great short stories and poems. The books are age specific. These are perfect for reading to the class during transitions or if there is extra time in a period.
"Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel" by Leslie Connor
This story is about a young woman who leaves her family and country behind to go to America in 1856. It is a picture book, so it can be read through from start to finish.
"Pink and Say" by Patricia Pollaco
This book, based on a true story, is about two men who meet and become friends during the Civil War. The story becomes sad and extremely moving.