Did you know that picture books are for big kids too? Some educators may not agree and think that picture books are “too simple” or “babyish” for big kids but I am here to tell you that picture books are in fact for big kids too!
Why should you use Picture Books for speech therapy with big kids?
- Picture books are a great jumping off point for introducing a new topic of study or a theme.
- Picture books make the information more accessible, as well as offer examples of more basic literary devices.
- Picture books are also shorter and can help you cover/ discover a topic much quicker than a novel. For example-if you are teaching about figurative language, it would be much easier to target what you’re talking about with a picture book rather than a novel.
Never Too Old
I used picture books with my middle school students fairly often. Most middle school libraries have a section with some if you have a smaller collection of picture books. My middle school students actually LOVED when I used picture books with gorgeous images in them, rather than a chapter book with too many words for them to count on a page. They typically got very excited when we used picture books to cover a topic that we were learning.
In the article, Never Too Old: Embracing Picture Books to Teach Older Students from the School Library Journal website, school librarian Mary Zdrojewski was surprised when she asked her class of teens what they were wanting to see in the library class and they responded that they wanted her to read to them. She tried short stories at first because of their age but it turns out that the students really wanted pictures to look at.
In the same article, Wendy Lukehart, youth collections coordinator at the District of Columbia’s Public Library’s Penn Center, states it best: “People of all ages have always responded well to pictures,” she says. For centuries, she notes, humans spent quite a bit of time gazing at art, and, in the 20th century, flipping through photography-centric magazines, such as Life, to engage with current events and culture. She also infers that the social media-driven world that we live in today may also explain why our youth is drawn towards pictures.
Great for ELL and Special Education
Picture books are especially great for ELL students and students with disabilities. For ELL students and students in special education, picture books can level the playing field between these students and their peers. They don’t need to rely only on auditory information from the read-aloud. They need some guidance in visualizing the story; the pictures give them that. The pictures also provide a place to focus. They’re less distracted. Some students who may not have the strongest vocabulary either from lack of exposure to a wide range of texts, or because English is not their first language, can do deep inference and interpretation when a book is read to them, Eighth grade literacy teacher Christina DiZebba reminds us. “I’m doing the decoding and making the ‘music’ of the text, which helps students who struggle with fluency, vocabulary, and prosody [making the text sound like what it means].” Plus, in a 40 minute period, educators can read a whole text and have a discussion about it. You simply cannot do that with a chapter book.
Set Big Kids up for Success
The article above states-”The way that educators introduce picture books to older kids can impact how fully students embrace and ultimately learn from them. For those who encounter resistance from students who think a picture book is “babyish,” a good offense can be the best defense.”
“The educator needs to take the book seriously and present the reason for sharing it, just as they would with a science experiment or anything else,” says Lukehart. “If an educator believes [a book] presents a compelling perspective on a topic in a manner that will resonate with older students, there will be few problems.”
Book Ideas for Big Kids
Here are some relevant picture books to use with big kids that are sure to win them over! You don’t have to use picture books MEANT for older kids. Read them anything! But these have been some of my favorites!
Here’s my current “Big Kids” picture book stack! Here’s a look at just a few favorites! I’ll write a post soon with details on each of these!
1. Mr. Ferris and his Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis (Author), Gilbert Ford (Illustrator)
Capturing an engineer’s creative vision and mind for detail, this fully illustrated picture book biography sheds light on how the American inventor George Ferris defied gravity and seemingly impossible odds to invent the world’s most iconic amusement park attraction, the Ferris wheel. A fun, fact-filled text by Kathryn Gibbs Davis combines with Gilbert Ford’s dazzling full-color illustrations to transport readers to the 1893 World’s Fair, where George Ferris and his big, wonderful wheel lifted passengers to the skies for the first time.
2. Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles
Joe and John Henry are a lot alike. They both like shooting marbles, they both want to be firemen, and they both love to swim. But there’s one important way they’re different: Joe is white and John Henry is black, and in the South in 1964, that means John Henry isn’t allowed to do everything his best friend is. Then a law is passed that forbids segregation and opens the town pool to everyone. Joe and John Henry are so excited they race each other there…only to discover that it takes more than a new law to change people’s hearts.
3. Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting
A homeless boy who lives in an airport with his father, moving from terminal to terminal trying not to be noticed, is given hope when a trapped bird finally finds its freedom.
4. Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts
All Jeremy wants is a pair of those shoes, the ones everyone at school seems to be wearing. Though Jeremy’s grandma says they don’t have room for “want,” just “need,” when his old shoes fall apart at school, he is more determined than ever to have those shoes, even a thrift-shop pair that are much too small. But sore feet aren’t much fun, and Jeremy soon sees that the things he has — warm boots, a loving grandma, and the chance to help a friend — are worth more than the things he wants.
Educator Jullian Heise was inspired by Donalyn Miller’s (@donalynbooks) #bookaday challenge. With a goal to read aloud a picture book every day of the school year with her 7th & 8th grade students, 180 complete texts were shared that helped grow classroom community and reading engagement. After Jullian shared it at #nErDcampMI during the summer of 2015, other teachers wanted to try it. It was coined #ClassroomBookADay so there would be a hashtag specifically about these daily picture book read alouds. Six years later, thousands of educators across the country are utilizing #ClassroomBookADay to positively affect student learning in schools, classrooms, and libraries. Join in by learning more from Jillian Heise in the facebook group and commit to taking the challenge this school year!
Are you using picture books with your big kids?
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