Picture Book Pairings

I started this post eons ago, and then it got lost in the black hole of the drafts. It still seems like a post that calls out to me to finish it, though... so here I am. 

When I set my Goodreads goal each year, I purposefully set it a bit high. It's not that I want to end up stressed out as December rolls around. No, I set it high so that I will be encouraged to snag some picture books to fill out my reading total.

I've written about using picture books to help students write personal narratives, generated lists of my favorite picture books for various purposes, shared lists of science fiction picture books to "hook 'em young", and participate as much as possible in Kid Lit Frenzy's weekly Non-Fiction Picture Book challenge. 

Like a sommelier suggesting the perfect wine to enhance the flavor of your meal, I'm here to share my thoughts about the perfect picture books to enhance the discussions you may have with reading groups.

Civil Rights 

 The Other Side with Lions of Little Rock

My students live in a very protected, suburban world. When we read Lions last year, they were shocked and appalled by the prejudice in the world. Their discussions about The Other Side reflected their growing understanding of some of the small, shameful moments in American history that they have been sheltered from hearing. They know about slavery - but they see it as a long gone era that has little impact on today. When I shared an article from 2013 about a school that was holding its first EVER integrated prom, I thought their jaws would hit the floor.


Each Kindness with The Great Gilly Hopkins or One for the Murphys
We read Gilly Hopkins last year. My students didn't easily connect with the struggle Gilly felt to fit in. They just saw her as "mean" and "rude". For some reason, they weren't able to step out of their own easy lives to understand Gilly's anger and pain. We wrapped up with a reading of Each Kindness, about a girl who is treated poorly and then just stops coming to school. Each eye was filled with tears (including mine), and we talked about those small kindnesses, and what they could have meant to an angry, lonely child. Next time, I'll start with the picture book.

They don't all have to be sad lessons! 

Cat TaleI'm Bored, and Infinity and Me

with Phantom Tollbooth

Cat Tale is filled with silly homonyms and homophones - the perfect way to prime the pump for the language humor. I'm Bored sets the stage for Milo's adventures. Get kids thinking about what THEY do when they're bored. Infinity and Me explores one of the deeper concepts in Phantom Tollbooth; the idea of infinity.

Nonconformity and Individuality:

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild with Stargirl
Trying to be someone you are not is stressful and unfulfilling. Mr. Tiger's journey of self-discovery is the perfect mirror for the voyage Stargirl takes. When I read Mr. Tiger this past fall I knew immediately I'd be adding it to my rotation when I read Stargirl with my fifth graders this spring.

You Are Stardust with L'Engle's Wrinkle Quintet. 

So many advanced science concepts - presented in picture format. This is the perfect way to get kids fascinated with the beauty of our interconnectedness - with the beautiful world of math and science that L'Engle so masterfully explores.

What picture book pairings would YOU recommend?


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