Picture Books For Middle Schoolers By: The Whimsical Teacher

Hello friendsies! 

 I'm so honored to be guest blogging for Courtney from Ramona Recommends, who I like to call the Madonna of Picture Books!

If you don't know me, my name is Jess, and I'm currently a middle school teacher (grades 6-8) transitioning into a digital literacy coach at my 1:1 middle school.  Before my middle school gig, I taught 5th grade for four years, and I subbed in grades K-12 for three years before becoming a bonafide teacher.  

I've always used picture books in my teachings, but I didn't realize that other middle school teachers didn't use them until I started the hashtag #picturebooksformiddleschool.  Since inventing the tag, I've received countless messages from middle school teachers, who are so excited to start using picture books in their lessons!  

If you're into picture books, but you aren't sure what will "fly" with sassy middle schoolers, I have a few recommendations for you down below.

Book 1: Blue Sky White Stars

written by Sarvinder Naberhaus
illustrated by Nadir Nelson

With just a couple words on each page and stunning Americana artwork, Blue Sky White Stars is a  good old fashioned picture book.  The statements are simple, but the pictures encourage the reader to look at America through a lens that ties its foundation to its growth.

Classroom Uses
Most middle schools have social studies classes which usually go over world history, current events, state history, and American history.  This book would be a great opener when discussing America and its changes or even the growth of a nation, patriotism, or diversity.

 Final Teacher Thoughts
I see every picture book as a journey, and this one takes me through a beautiful portrait of my America.  It also made me question the very definition of our United States.  I started to think that maybe I over-simplify what it means to be proud of one's country.  Perhaps being an American cannot be explained properly in words alone.
 I think it definitely needs a picture book.  

Book 2: Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets

written by Kwame Alexander
with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth
illustrated by Ekua Holmes

A group of poets wrote poems about their 20 favorite poets from ancient times to modern times.  They are beautiful dedications to these well known poets, and each page contains rich, colorful, collage style paintings!

Classroom Uses:
Poetry is a difficult unit for some teachers to conquer as it gets a lot of eye-rolls from teenagers.  This book is written in a way that appeals to teens though.  The first line on the first page says "Poets love to make up their own rules about writing: that's what makes it so much fun".  Aside from a poetry unit, this book could pave the way for unconventional journal writing or sketch style notes.

Final Teacher Thoughts
While reading this book, I kept feeling like I was in the movie Inception because I was reading poems written by poets about poets.  The poems were short, clever, and thought provoking. The writings made me want to get to know these famous poets more and go read their poetry.

Book 3: Not Quite Narwhal

by Jessie Sima

An adorable sea creature named Kelp doesn't quite fit in with his Narwhal friends.  There's a reason why, but I won't ruin it for you.

Classroom Uses:
In middle school, I would use this book in advisory classes, study hall, or even writing classes.  Every student at some point feels weird and different.  These feelings are a part of growing up, and sometimes kids need reassurance that what they're going through is normal.  This book could also help kids stuck between two families due to divorce.
There's an important lesson at the end of the book:
once we figure out who we really are, we don't have to choose a "side" to be on.  

Final Teacher Thoughts
This book is quirky and unique for any age group.  I've read it several times as an adult, and I still find it enjoyable.  While the book has a happy ending, it wasn't the ending I predicted, so it made me like the story even more.

Thank you for checking out these amazing picture books for middle school!  If you have any questions, please email me at thewhimsicalteacher@gmail.com or send me a message to @the_whimsical_teacher on Instagram!

If you find any cool picture books for middle school, please use #picturebooksformiddleschool, so I can see them too!

Take care friendsies!


 whimsical blog

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