Picture Books in High School! Yes, you read correctly. I love picture books, and I hope to share how effective they can be with teenagers and adults.
Background: I met a new friend at #RSCON3, Denise Krebs (@mrsdkrebs). Through blog reflections and tweets we have communicated about a number of things … then last night, I stumbled upon a tweet about a hashtag I did not recognize and an event that sounded quite interesting – “On Wed.RT @JennBrokofsky: @scottstp It is the 2nd annual #pb10for10 event. Educators share their 10 favorite picture books with each other.”
I direct messaged her, and she replied with a link to a blog – which opened several others. I go so excited because I love picture books, and I even use them in my adult trainings and high school classes. So .. I am going to participate and have a blast(!) sharing my 10 favorite picture books today. (To avoid copyright issues, I have linked each book title to the Amazon page where even more information can be found as well as, with some, previews of the book.)
Here’s to sharing! 🙂
1. The Dot by Peter Reynolds …Vashti is a little girl in a classroom, and at the end of art class her “paper is empty.” Her teacher, instead of reprimanding her, encourages her to put a dot on the page … then sign it. The next day, her “dot” is hanging on the wall in a gold frame. As a result of this teacher’s actions, Vashti becomes an artist of dots. At the end, another child is amazed at her “dot gallery,” and says “I can only draw a squiggly line.” Vashti, following her teacher’s model, asks her to show her, then asks her to “sign in.” I love this book because it shows the value of effective teaching. One teacher’s actions impacted a child so much that the child followed the model … and taught another child.
2. Ish by Peter Reynolds … Ramon is a boy who loves to draw, but his brother Leon makes fun of his art. As he crumbles one drawing, he catches someone taking it out of the trash. He chases the culprit, angry that this person is seeing his flaws … yet when he catches the theif, Ramon finds his drawing being hung. He wants to know why, and the person says, “it looks vase-ish.” As the “-ish” philosophy takes over Ramon’s thinking, he finds that he draw anything in -ish form/fashion. I love this book because it makes “everyone’s mistakes” actually art. It helps teach that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and -ish helps every artist find their own beauty.
3. An Undone Fairy Tale by Ian Lendler … This humorous book begins with the traditional fairy tale form (“Once upon a time …”) yet as the story unfolds, the illustrator can’t seem to keep up with the storyteller, so the traditional tale goes awry as the narrator and illustrator interact with the reader. (“You may have noticed the king’s unusual crown. Let me explain. You see that fellow painting the wall? That’s Ned. Wave hi, Ned! He’s making all the pictures for this story. But you’re reading so quickly that he hasn’t finished the painting or the costumes for this page yet. …”) The font alternates then between storyline and interaction with the reader. I love this book for struggling and younger readers simply because it verbally applauds their speed in reading as well as turns the traditional in a humorous tale of visual and verbal laughs.
4. I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont … Very cute and playful book. This one is great just to introduce the value of playing with words. You can read this book “to the tune of ‘It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More,’ [as] one creative kid floods his world with color.” Self-expression at its best … with rhymes and quick wit that students love to interact with … “Still, I just can’t rest till I paint me … / CHEST! Now I ain’t gonna paint no more. Guess there ain’t no harm if I paint my … / ” … You get the picture.
5. Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine, & a Miracle by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson, & Mary Nethery … I actually stumbled upon this book at a book store closing. As I picked it up, I realized how valuable it would be to students who have a parent serving in the military overseas. If they could see the good (in place of the news), it might make the separation more meaningful. This book tells the story of how Major Brian Dennis was adopted by Nubs – a lost dog in the desert of Iraq. Even more meaningful was the sacrifices Nubs made and the immigration that occured as a result of those sacrifices.
6. I See the Rhythm of Gospel by Toyomi Igus (text) and Michele Wood (paintings) … I originally bought this book for my son. We started homeschooling last year because he “hated learning.” As a struggling reader, he was frustrated in school, and I needed to save what we had left. I knew he loved music and working with Granddad, so we have spent the last year doing both. This book was used to connect reading to what he loved. Included was a Bonus CD, and the different fonts – colors, sizes, types – all made reading interesting. This book activates multiple senses in an effort to bring back and show the power of music.
7. Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg & Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and Susan L. Roth … I actually purchased this text as a result of a presentation in my DRI (Differentiated Reading Instruction) course for teachers. The teacher, presenting on Reader’s Workshop as a mega-strategy, showed how she used this picture book to create interest in reading Three Cups of Tea … she then discussed the culture for women in the Middle East. This book is great for introducing culture in 10th grade world literature – it promotes the idea that all people – men and women, eastern and western – deserve an education … a gift that can never be taken away from you.
8. The Beatitudes: From Slavery to Civil Rights by Carole Boston Weatherford … While teaching To Kill a Mockingbird with my 9th graders, I stumbled upon this gem of a book. It actually reminded me of a book telling I once heard, People Could Fly, that I used to teach slave literature in conjunction with the history teacher’s lessons on the Civil War. The book tracks – through pictures and words – the history of a patient people and what resources that they created to find blessings in life. Although there is a religious overtone to the text, the historical message is still true. “[Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy] I was with Booker T. Washington and Mary McLeod Bethune, who built colleges and lit the way for young minds. I was the lamp.”
9. When I was a Boy … I Dreamed by Justin Matott (Illustrated by Mark Ludy) … This story is from the perspective of an older, ordinary man with extraordinary stories to tell. Reading this text reminds me of those times when my grandfather would tell stories of his life – to him I am sure they were just incidents, points in his life that he may have just remembered, but to hear his voice tell them you would have thought he was larger than life itself. The illustrations in this book are just as breath-taking as the story. “I dreamed I roamed the lonesome plains, way out in the Old West. / In my cowboy jeans and fancy hat, and my official sheriff vest. / I showed up there right at high noon and stopped a robber cold …” It’s a fascinating story to inspire students to make their own stories larger than life and to dream of what kind of stories they would like to tell when they are old.
10. Terrible Things: An Allegory of the Holocaust by Eve Bunting (Illustrated by Stephen Gammell) … As part of the 8th grade curriculum, this book became part of my training kit for SpringBoard. Terrible Things introduces the unit on the Holocaust and it used to introduce the strategy of literature circles. I love this text because it uses imagination to the make the real, real. Animals encounter a black unknown that takes them away, one type at a time. As the final animal is swept away, he realizes too late what he needed to do. The power action from this text resembles the quote I found on the Boston Holocaust Memorial … They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
“Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up. —Martin Niemoeller
Thank you, Denise(@mrsdkerbs), for introducing me to this fabulous event. I can’t wait to see what others have posted and start my own wish list.
Do you see any books you might could use in your classroom?