September Epic Book Recommendations

September Epic Book Recommendations

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With National Read a Book Day on September 6th, International Literacy Day on September 8th, and Read an Ebook Day on September 18th, it’s a great month to jump for the joy of reading! Here are our September Epic Book recommendations to get you started.

Delightfully Different Dilly

Everyone—students and staff alike—feels a bit nervous at the start of a new school year. There’s so much uncertainty, and the desire to belong is powerful. For the students on our caseloads, the nerves can be even more intense after years of feeling different. Dilly to the rescue!

In Elizabeth Dale’s endearing picture book, Dilly, a young penguin born with one leg, learns that her difference is a valuable part of her identity. Liam Darcy’s illustrations are adorable, and preschool and elementary age students will enjoy cheering for Dilly on her journey to self-acceptance. 

Therapy ideas and skills to target:

  • Alliteration: Your younger students might not have goals related to literary devices, but wordplay can be a surprisingly effective way to engage reluctant readers! Students could even create their own alliterative phrases and sentences.
  • Discussion: This book provides plenty of material to inspire “get to know you” discussions at the beginning of the school year. Students could share what makes them unique and talk about whether or not they relate to Dilly’s experiences.  
  • Draw penguins: The amazing Art for Kids Hub has a darling cartoon penguin tutorial, giving students an opportunity to practice following directions (and celebrate National Coloring Day on September 14th!).

Grab a hardcover copy of this delightful book on Amazon.

Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Look out! September 13th is National Kids Take Over the Kitchen Day, but if you’re not quite ready for a speech cooking extravaganza, reading this book from Joanne Mattern is a good alternative. (It might also inspire you to celebrate Eat an Extra Dessert Day on September 4th!) 

This early elementary nonfiction option explores facts about this classic dessert and shares basic recipes as well as ideas for creative variations (strawberry white chocolate chip cookies, anyone?). 

Therapy ideas and skills to target:

  • Articulation: Any discussion of chocolate chip cookies is full of opportunities to produce “ch” and /k/!
  • Personal narrative: Students could talk about their favorite dessert and why they like it. 
  • Sequencing: After reading this book with your students, you might be inclined to let them take over the kitchen after all, but even if you aren’t, they could practice sequencing by studying the recipes and then explaining the steps in order. 

Octopus Stew

In this vibrant, multilingual book, author and illustrator Eric Velasquez shares pride in his Afro-Latino culture, and Ramsey, the imaginative main character, saves his grandmother from a giant octopus. Or does he? Either way, this story is a perfect option for honoring Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins September 15th.

This tale is simple enough for elementary school students, but cool enough for middle school students, and it also pairs well with Grandparents Day on September 10th!

Therapy ideas and skills to target:

  • Compare and contrast: Students could share the similarities and differences they notice between Ramsey’s grandmother and their own grandparents (or other important adults in their lives). 
  • Emotions: One of the many charming elements of this book is the tiny dog that appears on almost every page, with a facial expression to match whatever is happening in the plot. Students could make inferences about the dog’s feelings, or even create thought bubbles to write out its inner dialogue! 
  • Predicting: Octopus Stew offers many opportunities to pause before turning the page and use clues from the dialogue and illustrations to infer what might happen next. (If you and your students need help with any of the book’s Spanish phrases along the way, there’s a handy glossary in the back.) 

This beautifully illustrated picture book is also available in hardcover.

Peace, World

If there’s one thing we could all use more of (in addition to chocolate chip cookies), it’s peace! The United Nations has designated September 21st as the International Day of Peace, making this month the ideal time to read Aleksandra Szmidt’s sweet picture book. 

Each colorful page features an animal sharing how to say the word “peace” in its home country’s language, and the straightforward structure makes this book an inviting option for preschool and early elementary students. 

Therapy ideas and skills to target:

  • Describing: Although Peace, World’s text is minimal in this book, there’s plenty for students to say about the detailed illustrations of animals in their natural habitats. 
  • Discussion: The theme of this year’s International Day of Peace is “Actions for Peace,” and students could brainstorm ideas for how to promote peace at school and at home. They could also talk about what helps them feel peaceful. 
  • Extension: Students could learn more about any of the animals, countries, or languages featured in the book. 

Grab a copy of the adorable book in board version.

The Secret Life of the Sea Otter

It’s hard to imagine any animal more instantly lovable than sea otters—but these coastal cuties haven’t had it easy! After fighting their way back from near-extinction, their numbers are steadily increasing.

The final full week of September is Sea Otter Awareness Week, so why not dive in (see what I did there?) to Laurence Pringle’s stunning book The Secret Life of the Sea Otter? It follows Lutris as she naps in a kelp forest, hides from a shark, and cares for her tiny pup. Kate Garchinsky’s illustrations are beautifully lifelike, and animal-loving students of almost any age will find something to enjoy in this book. 

Therapy ideas and skills to target:

  • Articulation: Students will use /s/ repeatedly as they discuss sea otters!
  • Context clues and vocabulary: This book introduces multiple Tier II and III vocabulary words, and most of them are accompanied by helpful context clues—e.g., “Since Lutris is a predator, she has favorite animals to eat.” 
  • Research and extension: The Monterey Bay Aquarium has many resources focused on sea otters, including their beloved Sea Otter Cam.

Click here for a kindle or hardcover version of this super cute picture book.

All of these books are available for free through Epic when you sign up for an educator account, or you could request them from your local library. I hope you enjoy our September Epic Book recommendations!

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