A few years ago I had the pleasure of working with a first grade teacher who introduced me to the world of Jan Brett. This teacher was one of those teachers that you wish your petites could have over and over again. Her passion for teaching literacy and her love of Jan Brett was so evident when she read the fantastic stories aloud. At the time I was a facilitator (for non-teacher folks, that means I didn’t have a classroom, I was able to move around and support students in all classes throughout the day); being a facilitator provided me an opportunity to spend time in the classroom and work with my students who were learning English and I often found myself in this teachers classroom for the literacy block. It almost seems silly to say it, but I sat patiently and quietly on the floor and fell madly in love with the Jan Brett stories that she read.
Jan Brett, has been writing and illustrating stories for years, she has over 40 million books in print, incredible! She publishes a new book just about every year, and when you take a moment to look at the incredible illustrations you will wonder how on earth she is able to do it; it’s quite possible she might have super powers.
So let’s dive into the books; there are a ton of them, so for this post, I am only going to cover my absolute favorites.
The Mitten (1996) is a Ukrainian classic about a young boy who has white mittens and happens to lose one in the snow, this story is all about how many animal friends can fit into this white mitten. This is a story of whimsy and delight. This is one of my personal favorites to share with little ones.
Town Mouse Country Mouse (2003) is the story of two mouse couples who are tired of the day to day mouse grind and want a change of scenery. This story switches back and forth with lovely lush greens of the country to the staggering beauty of the town. This is a beautiful story and the illustrations are some of my very favorite.
The Hat (1997) is a story of a little hedgehog who finds stocking that has blown off of a clothes line. Hedgie loves his new hat and all of the animals tease him for his new hat. However, in the end Hedgie gets the last laugh. Lisa, the owner of the stocking, has to track down all of her missing woolen things from all the silly animals. This story is sure to get a laugh.
Hedgie’s Surprise (2000) this is a tale set in Denmark, little Hedgie helps Henny protect her eggs from Tomten who is stealing them daily. She tries everything to trick Tomten by putting a berry, mushroom and finally a potato and nothing stops him from taking the eggs, until Hedgie comes to save the day. This is another story that will have petites rooting for Hedgie and Henny.
The Umbrella (2004) I absolutely love this book, it’s about Carlos a young boy who lives in the Costa Rican jungle and the adventure that embarks on. It is one brilliantly illustrated page after the other. The animals are amazing and petites have so much guessing what will happen next. Even though we as readers, see tons of animals Carlos doesn’t see a single one while they play with his umbrella.
Mossy (2012) I think this might be my absolute favorite of her books, the illustrations and the story are so lovely. This is the story of a scientist Dr. Carolina and her niece Tory. The two find this amazing little box turtle that has the most unusual garden growing on her back. They take Mossy to their museum and keep her there for a year for all the visitors to see; but in the end they realize Mossy is sad and belongs back at Lilypad Pond and so they reunite her with her pond and her love Scoot.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears (1987) this is the telling of the Goldilocks and the Three Bears. What I love best is the gorgeous illustrations, on the side panels there are little foreshadowing images of what it to come. We love books with little hints about what it to come.
Armadillo Rodeo (1995) Is a story about a little girl Harmony Jean and Bo the armadillo who just like Harmony Jean loves a good old Texas adventure. Bo is on a search for a red armadillo (which happens to be a cowboy boot, on Harmony Jeans foot) and in the midst of his search he encounters some new friends and some spicy eats. What I love most about this story is Bo’s amazing attitude and his mamas wonderful instincts for her baby.
The Three Snow Bears (2007) This is another take on the classic three little bears, but this time set far north with the Inuit. This is a stunning take on the three bears, with gorgeous illustrations.
Beauty and the Beast (1990) to be honest, I love this book the art is amazing. The side panels and tapestries in the background are lovely for foreshadowing. To be completely honest, my youngest (three years-old) thinks the illustrations are a little frightening. It is a stunning take on the classic Beauty and the Beast.
Honey…Honey…Lion! (2005) Is a story set in africa, with the honey badger and honeyguide bird. The two usually work together as a team, but one day the badger becomes greedy and refuses to share. Honeyguide has had enough and plays a rather elaborate trick to teach him a lesson.
The 3 Little Dassies (2010) this is the story of the three little pigs but with a twist. Set in Australia this is a darling take on a classic. I am sure three little piggy fans will adore this book.
Here is a really great book for teachers filled with all sorts of ways to start using Jan Brett books in your classroom. Teaching with Favorite Jan Brett Books
Teachers and parents often times Jan Brett books are part of the Scholastic catalog, even if they are not in the little fliers that come home with the petites the titles can be found online.
Here is my Pinterest page for all things Jan Brett.