Out of This World Literacy : Tips for Using Picture Books in Upper Elementary and Even Middle School!
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Tips for Using Picture Books in Upper Elementary and Even Middle School!

Well, hello again friends!  Thanks for stopping by during the bright ideas blog hop!!  There are so many fabulous ideas from my blogging friends, so I'm going to keep this short and sweet.

I wanted to share a few of my favorite tips for using picture books with older kids.  I have taught grades 3-6 and found that students in all these grades enjoy listening to reading, even shorter texts the we may think only younger kids can enjoy!

I have found that shorter picture books, rich in meaning, can offer great reading and writing learning opportunities for older kids.

Tip #1: 

Before introducing the text to the class, read it over and decide on 3-5 teaching objectives you can focus on before, during, and after reading the text to the class.

Tip #2: 

Share your thinking that focuses on teaching objectives by stopping during reading and modeling what you are thinking.

Tip #3: 

Invite students to share their thinking before, during, and after reading by having them turn and talk with a partner about what they are thinking as they are listening to you reading. (This way, everyone has a chance to share their thinking, not just the one or two students that always raise their hands and answer for the class.)

Tip #4: 

LISTEN to students' thinking as they share with the class.  Let their thinking direct your instruction.  Take notes on the things they are noticing/thinking during reading.  The things they are thinking about will lead you to create intentional future teaching that is highly engaging and appropriate.

Do NOT be afraid to get those big kids on the carpet!!  It's a great way to keep them focused and making time to talk with partners quick and easy!!

*** Here are just a few of my favorites short texts to read aloud with older kids.  Check out the list of teaching objectives that would be great to use to develop deep meaning.

Ira Sleeps Over

 1. Build a sense of classroom community by having each student share items they have slept with when they were younger.  Or have them share something their brother, sister, cousin sleeps with.

2. Recognize rising and falling tension in a story.

3. Judge the main characters based on the things they do and say in a story.

4. Identify problems and solutions in stories.

5. Analyze how characters attempt, but fail, to solve problems.

6. Compare how the main characters are alike and different.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers 

1. Form opinions about real people in biographies, using evidence from the text to support your opinions.

2. Consider how illustrations in a text add to the meaning of the words.

3. Identify the setting (time and place) and consider how the events would be different if the time in which the events occurred were different.

4. Infer the reasons behind the main characters' actions.

5. Identify the author's purpose and message

6.  Consider different possible solutions to problems in a story.

As you can imagine, the list of teaching objectives from just these two books could go on and on!

So, the next time you see a picture book, don't think it is too easy for your students.  And don't even worry if they have read it before.  They are older now; they will look at the book with a new perspective.  If you look closely and keep an open mind, you will likely find countless teaching opportunities!!

If not, just read it to the class and ask them what they are thinking.  Their ideas will spark so many teaching opportunities you won't have enough time in the day to cover them all!

Next up on the blog hop is Elizabeth from Fun in Room 4B. Elizabeth has a great post for
you all about getting all those task cards organized! Just click on the button below to check it out!

Alternatively, you can search by topic using the link-up below and move along to any
other blog on the blog hop!

An InLinkz Link-up

Best wishes to all and happy teaching!!!


  1. I love the richness of the vocabulary in picture books. Many of them have AR reading levels of 3 and 4, or even beyond. Even Dr. Seuss books have higher reading levels (Bartholomew and 500 Hats, Horton Hatches and Egg, Yertle the Turtle to name a few) and are GREAT concept books. It is a wonderful way to introduce new vocabulary to students. One of my favorites is Nature's Paintbox by Patricia Thomas. They make wonderful mentor texts too for writing skills. Can you tell LOVE picture books too? I used them all the time when I taught 3rrd and 4th grade.

    Terri Izatt

  2. Picture books are some of my favorite teaching tools. These are great tips for using them in the classroom!

    Buzzing with Ms. B

  3. Hey Jen!
    I'm just now getting a chance to hop through this wonderful blog hop! What a great tip! I am teaching three periods of math and still try to pull in some great mentor texts to read aloud to my students. I really need to do it more often than I do. Thanks for the great tips!
    Fun in Room 4B

  4. Hey there! Wow, great minds must think alike! I posted about using picture books/mentor texts this week, too! I invite you to see my blog at www.readingteacherwrites.com. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Wonderful! I used picture books to teach story elements (plot, character, setting, etc.) to 9th graders. It clicked with them so much better than their grade level material.

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