Sunday, August 19, 2012

Guest Post: Picture Books in a High School Classroom? Absolutely!

In thinking about the hundreds of participants who read thousands of books for #summerthrowdown Librarians vs. Teachers, we (Brian, Kathy, Sherry, and myself) wanted to hear about and share some of the favorites that people read, so we asked for volunteers to do a "Top Ten Books Read" guest post on our four blogs this week after the second round ended and we all headed back to school for a new year.
My first guest post is from all-around awesome person (and my convention buddy) Sarah Andersen from YA Love blog. If you haven't "met" her online yet, you really should. She's a fantastic high school teacher and blogger who works tirelessly to bring an appreciation of reading to her students. I'm so excited to hear her Top Five Picture Books read list!
Picture Books In A High School Classroom? Absolutely!
I kind of grew out of picture books after elementary school, but since starting my Masters Degree I’ve discovered a new appreciation for them.  Reading a picture book as an adult, especially as a teacher, is a completely different experience than it was when they were being read to me as a child.  Now I find myself looking for picture books that I can use in my classroom to serve as mini lessons for things like drawing inferences, making predictions, foreshadowing, etc.  Some of my high school students are a little shocked when they first see me pull out a picture book, but once we start reading them many of them instantly remember how much fun they are to read.
This summer I completed my Masters Degree; I’m now officially a Reading Specialist.  Instead of writing a thesis, my cohort ran a summer reading clinic aiding elementary students who struggle with reading.  I worked with a fifth grade student moving into sixth grade this fall, so we worked quite a bit on comprehension strategies.  Because of his age my professor helped me find picture books that she thought he’d enjoy and would still find challenging.  Since this clinic took up a large chunk of my summer, most of my first round of #summerthrowdown reading consisted of picture books.  Today I’m going to share a few titles that I think would work well in a high school setting.

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco—I haven’t read many YA novels that take place during the Civil War, so finding a strong example in a picture book was really exciting.  I don’t teach much in my classroom that works with the Civil War, but history teachers could certainly use this text.  It’s also an excellent example of the power of friendship and characterization.  It is lengthy, so I’d probably break it up into two read aloud periods unless you have the time to read it in one class period. 
The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg—This is a really cool picture book that would work great with middle school and high school students.  It’s a complex story that would work perfectly to introduce how to make inferences.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that students have a difficult time making inferences and supporting them.  The Stranger is both interesting and short which makes it a great piece to use in a mini lesson.
The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Stephen Gammell—This is a really cute picture book that would work well when focusing on making connections.  Many students can relate to having family over and all the chaos that occurs in a crowded home.  I’d like to use this when introducing our narrative writing unit because I’m sure it would give my students plenty of topic ideas.  We used this as a read aloud in our reading clinic and the kids loved it.  At the end of the clinic most of them said this was one of their favorites.
Just A Second: A Different Way to Look at Time by Steve Jenkins—The importance of reading non-fiction texts is really being emphasized right now, so why not include a picture book?  I loved reading this book because the illustrations are great and the comparisons are fantastic!  I can easily picture students reading this book more than once so they can retain the many facts about time.  I don’t know if this would make the best read aloud, but it’s a great independent read.

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco—I am so happy I discovered Patricia Polacco this summer because she is positively wonderful.  Reading this book made me cry.  And when I say cry, I mean I had to grab a few tissues.  Not all students struggle with reading, but I think many would connect with this story and how difficult it is to fit in and feel smart and confident when you can’t read.  Even better?  The illustrations are just as beautiful as the story.  This is a top-notch choice for any grade level.

Thanks so much for visiting, Sarah! And stay tuned for the rest of the guest posts on favorites from #summerthrowdown this week!

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