Ready for one of my favorite ways to teach students about writing, reading, creativity, and even kindness? It’s something that elementary teachers have known all along…it’s the picture book!
The picture book is a powerful instructional tool that can work in any classroom…and I thought I’d share some examples of my favorites with you today.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of my favorite picture books for any classroom.
First, I’m sharing a book that is great for the beginning of the year as you’re building a positive classroom community.
Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts taps into a child’s innate need to have what everyone else has. In this case, the main character longs for the “cool” shoes even though they are too expensive for his grandmother to purchase. After finding a pair that is much too small, the main character makes the ultimate sacrifice for a classmate. It’s a touching story that celebrates kindness and classmates…perfect for any time of year. (Click HERE to check out the book.)
Picture books are also wonderful examples of creativity. Since learning to be creative has shown to be one of the most powerful skills for helping students thrive in life, it’s important to celebrate creativity in the classroom.
These two books do just that…
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis is fairly simple at first glance. A box shape is turned into everything expect a box – a robot, a hot air balloon, even a rocket ship. It’s a fun example of “thinking outside of the box,” just imagine all the creative lessons you could do as an extension to this story. (Click HERE to check out the book.) The Three Pigs by David Wiesner is another example of creativity. This time students see how a traditional story can be flipped on its head and come to life with a little imagination. This book is the perfect springboard for lessons about thinking in new and creative ways. (Click HERE to check out the book.)
Picture books are wonderful for adding a little humor and whimsy into the classroom. You can keep these two books on your shelf for a rainy day and pull them out when students can use a laugh. And…as a major bonus, humor produces psychological and physiological benefits that help students learn.
One of my favorite funny books is The Book With No Picturesby B.J. Novak. While there are no pictures in the book, there are plenty of silly words and crazy sentences that you, the reader, must read out loud. Students love how “powerless” you become against the words Novak makes you say. You’ll all be laughing together with this book! (Click HERE to check out the book.) Another funny book filled with voice (and a sweet message) is Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea. Not only is the book funny as the goat laments about the new Unicorn in town, it’s also cleverly written. There’s a lesson in this book along with a few laughs. (Click HERE to check out the book.)
What about using picture books to teach critical ELA skills? That’s a genius idea.
For instance, if you’d like to teach theme, try The EmptyPot by Demi. It’s one of my favorite stories because the reader learns its themes of honesty and integrity along with the main character that shows up to a gardening challenge with an empty pot. Not only is it a great way to teach theme, it’s a lovely way to showcase important character traits too. (Click HERE to check out the book.) The next time you’re putting together a writing unit, have students begin by reading mentor texts in the form of pictures books. It’s a super engaging and quick way for students to learn about the critical elements of the genre. I always started my memoir writing unit with a review of several picture books like The Baby Sister by Tomie dePaola. (Click HERE to check out the book.) Want to each about figurative language? It’s easy with picture books. Send students on a figurative language hunt in a book like WhiteSnow Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt. The story has a poetic quality as it tells about the first snowfall of the year. (Click HERE to check out the book.)
Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope some picture books make an appearance in your classroom!
See you soon!
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