Picture Book Month
Well it is that time again. Picture Book month has arrived. Each day I plan to use a picture book to model lessons, thinking, build discussion and well just enjoy. I look at picture books as a great way to reach my students because they are engaging in both their short stories but also their illustrations and powerful messages can be delivered in a relatively short period of time. My students are sceptical that I will stick to the (at least) one picture book a day schedule. Today is down and we have already exceeded our goal using Your Alien for a writing prompt and the wonderful Pete and Pickles as we look at SWBST as a strategy for summarizing, we also stopped to notice different signposts along the way.
I know that at times I can be a bit of a drag when it comes to those who value computerized products that test kids for knowledge based comprehension and I will not turn this post into another call for that to stop (for real though talking with a class about a book, sitting one on one talking about the best parts, doesn't that sound so much more fun?). I do though want to just take a moment and talk about why reading aloud and talking about picture books is so important, even when they are all grown up and "too big" for it.
Picture books are great for teaching lessons on a variety of life subjects. You have students that are having a hard time dealing with friends try Enemy Pie or the Invisible Boy. Creativity look no further than the wonderful Peter Reynolds Creatrilogy There are so many wonderful books out their to learn from.
There is some great discussions that can come from picture books. I think of Desmond and the Very Mean Word and the lessons it teaches about forgiveness "When you forgive someone you free yourself from what they have said or done" what a lesson that is for anyone. Both stories by Kobi Yamada, What do you do with an Idea and What do you do with a Problem bring great discussion to any class and hopefully a shift in mindset. Speaking of mindset the wonderful After the Fall and Nope! are great additions to any lesson when trying to help students realize they "can" do anything maybe just not yet.
Notice and Note and Disrupting Thinking
However you feel about these methods to foster thinking and discussion in your classroom Picture Books are a great tool to help students build these thinking and observation skills. Deeper thinking is easily achieved in the pages of a picture book. Lists can be found all over but for Notice and Note book suggestions my go to are quite often found on the very excellent blog by Pernille Ripp just search for Notice and Note signpost books and the treasures you will find...Awesome. As for Disrupting Thinking I am still collecting books for that journey but have found books that address tougher subjects like That Squeak or I am Not a Number have been very helpful in my learning journey.
Growing up too fast
Kids are asked to grow up too fast these days. Media all around them forces them to see the world around them in a particular light, while important, they also need some time to breathe. Breathe in the fantasy world that you can enter in a picture book, the silly adventures of a Paper Bag Princess or the Adventures of an Unimaginary friend named Beekle looking for belonging. Take the time, read to your students even if they are in Grade 12. Introduce them to Frog Belly Ratbone or the Wonderfully kind Wilfred. It will be worth the discussions, the laughs and most importantly the joy of just being a kid again for a moment.
Most important of all...just read and enjoy it.