Everybody Needs a Rock

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by Byrd Baylor. Illustrated by Peter Parnall. Picture Book. 32 pages. Grades 1-4.
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Review

cover art

With her spare, poetic prose, the author gives us ten rules for picking our own special rocks, leading us through smell, taste, feel and sight. Her locale is southwestern United States and Peter Parnall's illustrations match it well. His lines trail off into the vast spaces and his figures, especially the rocks, seem to grow out of that space.

Baylor's ten rules, stated with a deadpan humor and delight in the beauty inherent in those rocks, lead the reader to look more carefully at them, using all their senses to make those observations.

This is an indispensable book for classroom units on rocks and minerals, of course. It's also a great example text for writing projects about other natural objects based on Baylor's writing structure or for any unit studying the senses. This book also stands beautifully on its own as a lovely read aloud.

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Activities

  • Rocks and Minerals, Classifying, Sets: Start a classroom rock and mineral collection. Each morning, have someone sort the rocks into at least three groups and explain what the sets have in common

  • Writing: If there are ten rules for choosing the perfect rock, there can be ten rules for choosing other things like shells, leaves, friends, paintings, and the like. Make up ten rules for choosing something worth having.
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Related Books

  • cover art If you find a rock by Peggy Christian. Illustrated by Barbara Hirsch Lember. (2000, Harcourt. ISBN 9780152393397. Order Info.) Picture Book. 32 pages. Gr PreK-3.
    In this photo essay style picture book we see children finding different kinds of rocks. These aren't classified by mineral or structure but rather by use: skipping rocks, splashing rocks, climbing rocks, resting rocks. This is an accessible meditation on interacting with one element of nature.

  • cover art Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig. (2010, Atheneum. ISBN 9781442416673. Order Info.) Picture Book. 42 pages. Gr K-3.
    In this Caldecott Award winner, we find Sylvester collecting pebbles as a hobby. One day he finds an extraordinary red one. Finding it will grant his every wish, he is delighted. When he foolishly wishes to be a rock, he cannot hold on to the pebble to wish himself back. He remains a rock while his father and mother search and then mourn for him. One day, quite by accident, his father places the pebble on him just as his mother wishes he would return to them.

  • cover art Rocks in His Head by Carol Otis Hurst. Illustrated by James Stevenson. (2001, Greenwillow. ISBN 9780060294038. Order Info.) Picture Book. 32 pages. Gr PreK-3.
    Some people collect stamps. Other people collect coins. Carol Otis Hurst's father collected rocks. Nobody ever thought his obsession would amount to anything. They said, "You've got rocks in your head" and "There's no money in rocks." But year after year he kept on collecting, trading, displaying, and labeling his rocks. The Depression forced the family to sell their gas station and their house, but his interest in rocks never wavered. And in the end the science museum he had visited so often realized that a person with rocks in his head was just what was needed. Read More.

  • cover art I'm in Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor. Illustrated by Peter Parnall. (1995, Aladdin. ISBN 9780689806209. Order Info.) Picture Book. 32 pages. Gr 1-6.
    A desert dweller, asked if she is lonely, explains her love of the desert and the many wonders she sees there. With obvious delight she names and carefully describes events in the desert she has been privileged to witness: Dust Devil Day, a triple rainbow, Green Cloud Day, Coyote Day, Time of the Falling Stars, and New Year Day. Read More.

  • cover art Guess Who My Favorite Person Is by Byrd Baylor. Illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker. (1985, Simon and Schuster. ISBN 0689710526. Order Info.) Picture Book. 32 pages. Gr 2-4.
    A young man and a little girl play a game of choosing and describing their favorite things while resting in an alfalfa field. The girl is the leader and she is a harsh critic of his choices when they are not specific enough. With choosing favorite colors, for instance, she demands that he not just declare his choice to be blue, but that he tell exactly which kind of blue, seen where. Read More.

  • cover art The Table Where Rich People Sit by Byrd Baylor. Illustrated by Parnall, Peter. (1998, Aladdin. ISBN 9780689820083. Order Info.) Picture Book. 32 pages. Gr 1-12.
    A young girl insists that her family gather around their homemade table and discuss money. She says they don't have enough. They meet and make a list of their valuables and find that most are not monetary at all. This is a funny story with a serious message and the idea that money is an arbitrary and usually inadequate value system should be apparent to many readers. Read More.
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