Picture Book Resources
Cloud Dance by Thomas Locker
Locker has some simple text that accompanies gorgeous illustrations of clouds in various seasons and
types of weather.
- Art: This could be used in the art classrooms to study the way the artist used light and color.
- Weather: It could also be used in science when studying different types of clouds (the last two pages give a nice scientific summary of cloud types).
- Compare/Contrast: The artwork could also be used to stimulate compare/contrast as students look at the vastly different clouds and weather depicted on various pages.
- Descriptive Writing: Challenge students to describe the picture using only words and see if they can paint a mind picture to rival Locker's painting.
Time Flies by Eric Rothman
It's no secret I love wordless picture books, so here is another beautifully illustrated wordless story. Rothman has a little bird fly through a museum of dinosaur bones and suddenly finds itself flying amongst live dinosaurs.
- Dinosaurs: If you're looking for a quick read when studying dinosaurs, this would fit the bill. It also could help kids make connections between the skeletons of dinosaurs they see and actual creatures.
- Museum Visits: Let's face it. Sometimes field trips to museums can be boring for kids. Reading this prior to a museum trip could help you challenge students to try and imagine the things they will see back in time. What did that skeleton used to look like? Who used that tool? Come up with questions they can ask themselves to trigger the imagination and make the museum trip come to life a little bit more.
- Time Travel genre studies: If you're introducing various genres, this is a quick read that clearly illustrates the key components of time travel books.
- Writing Prompt (good for any language): Sometimes it is hard for kids (ok, and adults) to come up with ideas of what to write about during a free writing assignment. Giving them a wordless book is a good way to generate ideas. Just ask them to write the story they see or extend the story further with words.
- Point of View: You can easily challenge students to write accompanying words to this story from various points of view, whether the voice is of a narrator, of the bird, or of one of the dinosaurs that the bird flies by.
- Pre-reading: I've highlighted a few wordless books, but I don't think I've mentioned how good these are for kids who aren't quite reading yet. The benefits are well-documented. You can do a search of "wordless books and teaching reading" on the internet and come up with dozens of studies. Just one of the benefits is that the progression of the story teaches kids the direction words and pages go in reading, how to turn pages, etc.. Of course, it is great to expose pre-readers to books with words too, but don't discount the value of those picture-only stories in preparing kids to read.
Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman
Vidya is from a more modern Brahmin Indian family during the beginnings of WWII. Her father is a doctor, active in the nonviolent Indian freedom movement, who believes that the caste system isn't necessarily right and that his daughter should have the freedom to go to college before marrying (uncommon at the time). Vidya's father suffers severe brain damage when beaten during a protest. At this point Vidya's life dramatically changes. Her family must then go to live with the rest of her father's family in a more traditional Brahmin household. Vidya's life is made miserable by her aunt and uncle, and she realizes she will probably never get to go to college now. The one bright spot in her life is the library, which she at first visits on the sly ‐‐since it lies up on the men’s floor where women are forbidden‐‐ and then, thanks to the all‐powerful word of thatha (her Grandfather) she is granted access to daily. Climbing the stairs to the library ends up changing her life for the better in several ways.
- Indian Culture: Though a historical fiction book, this still gives a very insightful look into Indian culture, the holidays celebrated and variety of beliefs. And it's a great book for Indian students looking for books about people from their own culture (because those are few and far between).
- Non-Western History: It's hard to find good historical fiction not set in a Western setting, but this does just that. Take a step back in time to 1940s India. How many other books can you name that took place there and then?
- WWII in India: It's not often you hear what was going on in India during WWII. Most books are focused on Europe or the Pacific, so this is a good reminder that India was also involved in the conflict.
- Women's Roles & WWII: Obviously, Vidya's various family members have a whole range of opinions about what women were allowed to do. Readers could be asked to compare Vidya's circumstances with what was going on in the rest of the world. WWII era was a big period of change world-wide, though it looked different in many areas.
- Family Units East vs West: Have readers compare and contrast how families work in India and the rest of the East with how they work in Western societies.
- Gandhi & Non-violent Protest: Vidya's family has various opinions of Gandhi and his movement. Her father loves Gandhi's ideas, but others in the family are not so sure. A great opening to talk with kids about non-violent protests vs violent protests and the effectiveness of both.