Picture Books

Nonfiction Picture BooksIt’s been years since I’ve been in the classroom as a teacher, but when I read children’s and young adult books I still think about which students I’d recommend them to. I think about how they might be useful in teaching or introducing one subject or another. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think of books primarily as teaching tools, but I do think that a great book is a wonderful way to open readers up to new information, insights, and experiences.

For the last few years I’ve been wondering whether nonfiction picture books could be used in classrooms for middle school and high school students. Would they be a good way to introduce a new topic, or would the kids just shut down because it seemed babyish and they were embarrassed?

I have a fair number of friends who have become middle school and high school teachers, but none of them have tried using picture books with their classes. So the question has been simmering in the back of my mind until recently.

Pernille Ripp is a teacher from Wisconsin. I’ve been following her blog for about a year. She’s forthright and honest about the joys and struggles of teaching. She questions everything, and she’s not afraid to get student opinions to make sure that her teaching methods are working for them. I just love her sensibilities.

Last year Ms. Ripp moved from teaching elementary school to teaching seventh grade English. This summer she’s written a couple of great posts on using picture books in the classroom. Here is her excellent post on why picture books belong in every classroom. And here is a post on her current 10 favorite nonfiction picture books.

She’s convinced me that picture books can have an important place in a classroom of older kids. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ll know that I do occasionally review nonfiction picture books. Since Ms. Ripp has confirmed my belief, I’m going to add nonfiction picture book reviews as a regular feature on the blog. I’ll post them on Tuesdays, so watch this space!

Are you a teacher or librarian who uses picture books with kids in middle school or above? I’d love to know about your experiences!

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