Golden Oldies

By Margaret Allen, Strategic Education Manager

If you’ve read any of my recent blogs, you might have noticed that I believe picture books are vastly undervalued when it comes to the contribution they can make to supporting children’s reading development. So, as picture books appear to be a recurring theme as part of other blog topics, I thought it was about time I gave the ‘power of the picture’ book some dedicated ‘airtime’. With that in mind, I want to share with you ‘part one’ of my picture book series, where I’ve pulled together my top three list of ‘Golden Oldies’ along with some ideas as to how you could use them to support whole class reading.

As a teacher, mother and now grandmother, I’ve had my fair share of experience when it comes to picture books. So, when I came to try and whittle the list down to just three… it was quite a tall order! That said, when I started thinking about why I liked them, I was surprised to discover that they all had one thing in common – they encourage and educate children about the importance of ‘community’. This in itself is a huge tick in the box for the older, and possibly lesser well known picture books.

In a world where children are increasingly engaging in 1:1 app activities or games with tablet devices, the picture book is actually a wonderful way of helping them to imagine and experience a world which exists beyond their own perspective. For social development, this is quite powerful. From a reading development and creative thinking perspective, as a teacher these picture books equip you with some killer content. And here’s why:

Oi Get off Our Train – John Burningham

Accelerated Reader Quiz: 201396
Lower Years | Book Level: 2.4 | Points: 0.5

Oi! Get off Our Train
Why I love it
In spite of being an ‘oldie’, this book is actually an excellent basis for tackling topics such as global warming at a level children can understand.
My top tips for reading in class
This is a great example for showing children the structure of a story and how to build a journey. It has a very distinct ‘beginning’, ‘middle’ and ‘end’ which you can explore with the class as a group.


Giant Jam Sandwich — Janet Burroway & John Vernon Lord

Accelerated Reader Quiz: 200230
Lower Years | Book Level: 3.8 | Points: 0.5

The Giant Jam Sandwich
Why I love it
Even if children are not able to decode or fully comprehend text, the rhyming chant makes the story engaging and fun.
My top tips for reading in class
Use the book as a basis for supporting other classroom activities. For example, I read the book before working on a ‘design your own sandwich’ project.


Little Lumpty – Miko Imai

Accelerated Reader Quiz: 201402
Lower Years | Book Level: 2.2 | Points: 0.5

Little Lumpty

Why I love it
It builds on a well-known nursery rhyme (the importance of which is explored in this earlier post) and helps children to follow the journey of Humpty Dumpty a step further.
My top tips for reading in class
As part of the classroom discussion, this is a great book for encouraging children to learn about consequence and why it is important to listen – yet at the same time have the confidence to try new things.


Another beauty of these Golden Oldies is that you’ll probably be able to pick up copies of them in charity shops (which you can read more about in this post), so testing the potential of the picture book in class won’t even break the bank. Finally, don’t forget that you can use Accelerated Reader as a backdrop to whole class quizzing – all of the above have been quizzed (for ideas on whole class quizzing read this post).

Don’t forget to watch out for my top three ‘Golden Newbies’ list – I’ve already started work on compiling it!


Profile photo of Margaret Allen
Margaret Allen
Strategic Education Manager

Margaret Allen is Strategic Education Manager for Primary schools at Renaissance Learning. She uses practical experience from her time teaching in primary classrooms to help teachers across the UK to get the most out of Accelerated Reader.



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