Picture Books Are Eggxactly What They Need

"There is a picture book for every reader, and there is reader for every picture book". This is one of my favorite quotes from Harvey and Goudvis. It sends a message to all teachers and parents that picture books are never going out of style. Did you know fanny packs are back on the fashion 411?


A picture is worth a thousand words. How many times have you heard that line? I think it is even more true today with social media, especially instagram. We look at pictures constantly, and in our heads we create this wonderful magical world through the shapes and people in the photographs. Picture books speak to children in the same way. They touch our emotions, delight our senses, appeal to our whimsy, and bring back memories of our childhood (Mitchell, 2003).

Picture books give us a sense of childhood. I can remember sitting on the couch in the family room cuddled up against my mom as she beautifully read picture book after picture book to me. The vibrant pictures and soft spoken words built such whimsical moments of pure happiness in my heart. Do you remember when you were little; did picture books soothe your soul as much as they did mine?

No matter what grade you teach, picture books should be your jam. Think back to my last paragraph. Did you feel joy while reading it? Think about your students for a minute~they have this SAME joy! Lets not deplete it by saying picture books are only for primary students. I challenge you to bust out The Little Engine that Could with your upper elementary students and see how many different answers you receive to this question: "What is the theme of this book?"

Are you a believer yet? Below I have listed just a few ideas that will make you a believer. No, I did not say "Belieber" #despacitoanyone

While I fully support having students infer, cite evidence, and learn from their reading, I think we are doing a disservice to our upper elementary, middle school, and high school students by not using more picture books. Many of my students tell me that their parents do not read to them nor buy picture books because they think chapter books have all the answers. Let me tell you, PICTURE BOOKS teach more life lessons than most chapter books. With the exception of WONDER! Wonder is the best chapter book I have read in years. OK, back to picture books.

You might wonder HOW DO I teach using a picture in an upper grade classroom? Debbie Miller, author of Reading with Meaning, and I both agree that children can learn from the reading while listening or engaging with a picture book. When teaching the TOUGH reading skills: synthesis, inferring, asking questions, or making connections, don't be afraid to USE picture books to preteach, teach, and reteach those skills. Picture books are not just for babies or little kids;they are for everyone. They send different messages depending on the reader's insight.

Have you ever had a student come up to you and share something that you were not ready to handle? Maybe a student had a death in the family, saw someone steal, did not have enough money for lunch, wants to know about political issues, or doesn't know how to make friends. Whether you are a newer or seasoned teacher, those conversations can be tough. Picture books open a window that help students see through different panes. 
Paul Meets Bernadette is about two fish with multiple perspectives of how they see the real world. Paul was a single fish, but then Bernadette swam in. She opens Paul's eyes to think outside the fish bowl. Look at the picture above. In the beginning of the story, Paul would have seen glasses. With Bernadette's  open mind, she has taught Paul to think deeper and see a lunetta butterfly. I think this story is great when teaching multiple perspectives.

That one book you read tomorrow in your classroom could change the world for your student. Help them OPEN THE MAGIC!
*Amazon affiliate links were used in this post 

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