Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, Lois Ehlert (Illustrator)
The 26 characters in this rhythmic, rhyming baby book are a lowercase alphabet with attitude. "A told b, and b told c, 'I'll meet you at the top of the coconut tree'"--which probably seemed like a good idea until the other 23 members of the gang decided to follow suit. Lois Ehlert's chunky block illustrations show the luxuriant green palm standing straight and tall on the first page, but it begins to groan and bend under its alphabetical burden. First the coconuts fall off, then ("Chicka chicka... BOOM! BOOM!") all the letters also end up in a big heap underneath. A very simple board-book version stops there, but this original text goes on to introduce the helping hands of the 26 uppercase "mamas and papas and uncles and aunts."What's not to love about this book? I love it still.
Book that should be on hs/college required reading lists: I honestly don't know how to answer this question. People should read whatever they want. By forcing kids to read books we've deemed to be good I think a lot of teens associate reading with being a chore. I always preferred the assignment where I got to pick my own book. Yeah I'd like kids to read more diverse characters, but as long as they're reading something I'm happy.
Favorite book dealing with foreign culture: The Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry by J.D. McClatchy
From Pablo Neruda to Derek Walcott to Bei Dao, this lavish anthology showcases verse by 83 of the world's greatest contemporary poets. J.D. McClatchy, editor of The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry, has selected masterpieces from four continents and two dozen languages, translated by such distinguished poets as Elizabeth Bishop, W.S. Merwin, Ted Hughes, and Seamus Heaney.This may seem like an odd choice, but this book has really showed me so much. Though there are definitely some holes in this anthology, you can learn so much by just reading the poems and short little biographies in this book. We used this in my International lit class and it changed my opinion about poetry completely.