On what may well be the last Friday of school for most students, I thought I’d share books about cleaning up…and hope it inspires some kids to clean their rooms and find all those lost library books to return! (I know we still have one hiding out somewhere!) Good luck, and happy reading!
Baby Max and Ruby Clean-Up Time, by Rosemary Wells (infant/toddler): Max and Ruby work together to put everything away at the end of the day in this short, rhymed board book (or online through We Give Books). The illustrations are the older style Max and Ruby and are peppered with collage elements.
Max Cleans Up, by Rosemary Wells (toddler/preschool): Max is slightly less cooperative in this longer clean-up story. Ruby keeps wanting him to throw away or put away things with which he isn’t ready to part, so he tucks this and that into his pocket. When Ruby pronounces the room neat and orderly (“A place for everything, and everything in its place!”), she notices Max’s bulging pocket where he has put, in his words, “Everything!” These are the more current illustrations, but they still have collage elements. Also available on We Give Books.
How Do Dinosaurs Clean Their Rooms?, by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague (preschool/early elementary): Following the pattern of all the other “How Do Dinosaurs” series books, this book gives the bad examples of dinosaur cleaning behaviors (in the question format) followed by the appropriate cleaning behaviors (as responses to the questions that suggest poor choices). These books are great for a laugh both because of the silly way the dinosaurs behave in the “bad idea” section and because the dinosaurs have human parents and settings, so they are absurdly large and awkward in the illustrations.
Just a Mess, by Mercer Mayer (preschool/early elementary): I love the Little Critter books! In this title, Little Critter can’t find his baseball glove, so he’s forced to “clean” his room to look for it. “Clean” because, well, he really doesn’t have the proper technique, you know? He shoves things into the closet and stuffs them under the bed, but he ends up finding the mitt despite his haphazard methods. Although this definitely isn’t one of those books where the main character is a shining example of what to do, what child hasn’t tried this strategy for cleaning up a room?
Jillian Jiggs, by Phoebe Gilman (early elementary): “Jillian, Jillian, Jillian Jiggs! It looks like your room has been lived in by pigs!” Although this book originally came out in 1985 (and I probably read it shortly thereafter), I can still remember that repeated line. Jillian’s mom wants her to clean up, but she and her friends keep getting distracted by opportunities for play. Jillian is the star in several other books by this author as well.
Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom, by Eric Wight (elementary): Frankie is a fourth-grader with a big imagination in this part traditional book (the real events), part graphic novel (the parts he imagines) title that starts the Frankie Pickle series. Like Jillian, his forays into play just add to the mess that he’s supposed to be tackling. Although I’ve not read this series, it looks like a really fun read for the middle elementary crowd. (It also appears to be one of those high interest/low reading level type books…I could have seen my fifth grade boys wanting to read it, and it would have been accessible to almost all of them.)
“Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out,” Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein (elementary): I loved this poem as a kid, so much so that I used it as my example performance piece when I used to have my fifth graders do Poetry Café every semester! Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout will do all manner of chores…but she draws the line at taking out the garbage. She finally gives in, but it’s too late! (The MP3 is apparently read by the author and was recorded back in 1969!)
This is just a small sampling of the multitudinous books on messy rooms and cleaning up! For what’s available at your own library, try the subject heading “Orderliness – Fiction” as your search term.