By Shari Maser, Off-Campus Program Advisor
Picture books seem to have gone out of fashion. Of course, they are still popular in early elementary education, but as soon as children are old enough to read, we tend to steer them away from illustrated books.
I’m not sure why. In fact, I find that many books designed for younger children have universal value and appeal. Children’s picture books frequently offer information and perspectives not found in books designed for more mature audiences. Picture books are generally written by passionate people who bring their subjects alive through storytelling; authors and illustrators combine visual and narrative techniques to tap into readers’ emotions and give them a reason to care.
Many picture books are directly or indirectly related to academic subjects and themes. These books can be used to introduce new information, to review familiar concepts and skills, to help students visualize abstract ideas, or to reinforce understanding. They can be fun, fascinating, thought-provoking, informational, and inspirational…often all at once!
Picture books also have some practical advantages. They are family-friendly—perfect for older and younger siblings (and parents) to enjoy reading together. They can be read in a short time—ideal for bedtime, lunchtime, or waiting-for-someone time. And they are portable—easy to take with you on hikes, car rides, or any kind of adventure.
I keep a running list of my family’s favorite picture books, as we like to revisit them year after year. We have also been inspired to write picture books of our own!
Below are some of my favorite picture books by subject area and resources for finding picture books for older students:
English Language Arts
- A Cache of Jewels
- Versions of Cinderella from around the world:
- The Korean Cinderella
- The Persian Cinderella
- Yeh-Shen: A Chinese Cinderella Story
- Jouanah: A Hmong Cinderella
- The Way Meat Loves Salt: A Cinderella Tale from the Jewish Tradition
- Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story
- Little Gold Star: A Spanish American Cinderella Tale
- The Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story
- The Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story
- Smoky Mountain Rose: An Appalachian Cinderella
- Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella
- Multiplying Menace: The Revenge of Rumpelstiltskin
- One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi
- Sir Cumference and the First Round Table (and the rest of the Sir Cumference series)
- Fractals, Googols, and Other Mathematical Tales (and the rest of the Penrose the Cat series)
- The Magpies’ Nest (the version by Joanna Foster)
- Red Knot: A Shorebird’s Incredible Journey
- The Magic Schoolbus series
- One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference
- Give a Goat
- Beatrice’s Goat
- Roughing It on the Oregon Trail (the Time-Traveling Twins series by Diane Stanley)
- Dadblamed Union Army Cow
- You Wouldn’t Want to Be at the Boston Tea Party
- You Forgot Your Skirt, Amelia Bloomer
- The Heroine of the Titanic
- The Scarlet Stockings Spy
- The Yellow Star: The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark
- Mao and Me
- How Are You Peeling? Foods With Moods
- Picasso and the Girl with a Ponytail (and the rest of the Anholt’s Artists series)
Resources for Finding Picture Books for Older Students
- Never Too Old: Picture Books to Share with Older Children and Teens
- Picture Books for Older Students (Doc)
What are some of your favorite picture books? Please share your recommendations.