Any reader, no matter their age or reading level, can read a picture book time and again, and still find something new within those pages. Picture books deserve a place all classrooms including upper elementary and middle school grades. Here are a few positive reasons you might want to consider using more picture books in your classroom.
1. Picture Books provide a common knowledge background – Picture books provide an instant and complete shared experience, which can then be referenced by all students with equal understanding.
2. Picture Books make abstract concepts concrete – Picture books can play a large role in making abstract concepts concrete. Universal themes such as patience, empathy, teamwork, cooperation, forgiveness, fairness, and responsibility are among those traits we want all children to learn. Certain picture books can create a memorable model for children who still think and generalize in very concrete terms.
3. Picture books activate thinking on a visual level – Since illustrations are so often tied into the meaning of a picture book, students are required to shift their understanding from text to picture. Some of the best picture books will often provide illustrations that add meaning to the literal text.
4. Picture books build reading comprehension – Nonfiction picture books, tie complex ideas and vocabulary to illustrations. Defining unknown words through context clues becomes much easier when a picture provides the reader with clues.
5. Picture books are non-threatening – The very fact that nonfiction picture books are written on multiple levels makes them perfect for differentiating reading levels. Each student in the class will be able to gain access to background information at his/her individual level of readiness.
6. Picture books inspire creativity in children Picture books do such a wonderful job of inspiring young minds to think outside the box and color outside the lines.
7. Picture books are Fun – Along with all of the above, we should always remember the most important reason for choosing to use picture books are fun. Many picture books are just plain funny, making them a great choice to read. Laughing along with a child at the silliness of a good picture book is the best fun.
Here are some of my recommendations for upper elementary and middle school:
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Challenge – This week you should talk with your school librarian and ask them for picture book suggestions to support your students. You might just find this becomes a habit that both you and the students enjoy!
If you find some great picture books, please share below. The one thing I know about teachers … they love to share!