Reading Without Limits

Maddie Witter

Picture Books in High School

One of my favorite picture books

One of my favorite picture books

Picture books in high school?

Yeah, right.

While teachers don’t say that outright to me, most often when I meet with high school English teachers and mention the power of picture books, I get the ‘yeah right’ look.  Why? Picture books aren’t advanced enough to teach the skills necessary for our young people to be ready for the careers and colleges of their choice.  And they surely won’t help us pass THE TEST.

My response?  Not true!   Picture books must become an integral part of every teacher’s toolkit, especially high school English teachers.

In “Slow Down and Look at the Pictures”, Deborah Page, director of Ezra Jack Keats Foundation writes, “Even gifted children benefit from time with picture books, learning how to get the most out of what they read.”  I couldn’t agree more.  All too often I find that as students become more confident, fluent readers, they tend to rush.  Myself included.  High interest picture books allow teachers to guide students through the nuanced language of picture books.  In the Common Core’s push for depth over breadth, you could use picture books as a shared text and reread it many times, each time capturing new meaning.

Here’s a list of my favorite picture books to use in high school, including nonfiction texts:

Three Pigs by David Wiesner

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein

The River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams by Jennifer Fisher Bryant

The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain by Peter Sis

Chair for My Mother by Vera Williams

What are your favorite picture books?

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