Using Picture Books in the Secondary Classroom
Presented by Carmyn Juntunen
English and Title I Reading
Community High School,
Grand Forks Public Schools The Red River Valley Writing Project
Today I represent two
of my many “hats”
Think back to your childhood, your reading history.
On piece of paper jot down a book that you loved
when you were small. Write about what you
If you can’t think of one from your own childhood write
about one you’ve enjoyed reading to kids as an adult.
Take a couple minutes to do this…
Write with me…
This is level one writing, friends… we are thinking on paper, so don’t worry
about the format or length or editing your work. We are just slowing it down so
everyone can consider the question, process, and comment.
Acknowledging favorite books from the
past, celebrating them, gives them
validity. The practice…
•invites picture books into the
•includes readers of all ability levels.
•acknowledges something a student
•reminds students of the “good times”
•open doors to other kinds of reading
A place where I’ve celebrated
books from my past:
Picture books are beautiful—rich in
words and text.
They can transmit huge concepts in a
small package with a low time
commitment. Yet, if promoting literacy
and a love of literature is a goal a
picture book is an easy way to bring in
a pleasurable reading experience
solely for that end.
Picture books can help meet
character education goals as a
There are many reasons to read picture books to
students. This reason should not be ignored.
Read Aloud to Students
•Students enjoy being read to at any age.
•Even simply on the pleasure level, teachers can use this time to ignite a
passion for literature or picture book art.
•Read Alouds provide a shared reading experience—a common text for
•In addition, they can model reading fluency, a reader’s voice, and possibly
even more valuable to the secondary classroom teacher—they can be
used as teaching tools.
•Short time commitment to a single story makes this a viable option.
Choosing Picture Books
Choose books you love – not any old one off a library shelf.
“Teach them [your students] to be moved and you will be preparing them
to move others.” – Cynthia Rylant
Check the book for content accuracy and quality illustrations.
Ask your librarian, consult online resources, consult colleagues… There
are more books out there than time to use them.
Picture Books as Teaching Tools
A single rich picture book that can be used again and again for multiple
purposes. The following website explores this concept more deeply:
In my language arts class, this text can help me…
Model reading strategies – inferences, making
Provide explicit instruction on the concept “direct
and indirect characterization” and irony
Provide a mentor text for constructing characters in
writing—both fiction and nonfiction narratives.
Picture books can be used in frontloading an activity, concept, or new
subject in any classroom.
Picture books can help build the bridge between new knowledge and
their background knowledge.
Activating those connections between concepts helps students learn.
Where students lack background knowledge, a picture book can serve
as an anchor or a place to return to ground themselves in the concept
Picture books can help personalize the an otherwise abstract concept.
They use story to teach the content.
WW II concepts--
•Bombing of Hiroshima
Language Arts Example:
Writing -- Comparison/Contrast paper
•Fairy tale versions from different cultures
Literature/Writing -- Poetry
•Picture books are a great way to get started with
It’s important for students to determine the main
characteristics of various genres.
One could do an analysis of the genre of picture books in
general and then look at specific types of picture books
One could teach analysis within the genre and do a
“book award” in order to talk about quality and criteria.
Many picture books fit more than one curriculum
area and though one may not use it collaboratively,
it’s worth recognizing that with students so they
more naturally see learning as integrated and not
An analysis of the collected work of a
specific picture books author.
Students can discover either the diversity
or cohesion in an author’s body of work by
examining storylines, topics, voice, word
choice, image style
This would be helpful particularly in
language arts – or art by looking at
Example: Chris Van Allsburg
Mentor Texts –
•Looking at the language and craft of writing and using it as a guide
•Using the format or style of book as a jumping off point [examples:
Stringbean’s Trip to the Shining Sea by Vera Williams, Diary of a
Worm by Doreen Cronin, The Jolly Postman by Allen Ahlberg]
As Writing Prompts –
•To inspire fiction – [example: The Mysteries of Harris
Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg
•Extending the story
•Adding a scene
•Writing about a personal connection to a story
•Writing to apply, analyze, synthesize knowledge learned in
class and reinforced with a picture book
Together let’s make some
observations about the picture.
On your own: write a story starter
•Who is this man?
•What is he doing?
•What happened before this moment?
•What will happen next?
You may use the caption in your
writing if you like.
Let’s Try It Out:
If a classroom is filled with books of all shapes,
sizes, reading levels and versions on a theme,
students can self-select or teachers can direct the
just right materials for kids to grasp the concepts.
One Example: Woody Guthrie
Subject areas: Music, Literature, Social Studies
Picture Book Illustrations
Students need guidance in visual literacy – learning how to “read” images
Illustrator as Mentor—Illustrators prove art teachers with accessible
examples of a wide range of artistic style –woodcuts, mixed media,
watercolor, computer generated
Antler, Bear, Canoe: A Northwoods Alphabet by Betsy Bowen
I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child
La Cucaracha Martina by Daniel Moreton
For a complete list of all the books I’ve brought with me today and any other
picture book resources I know or can recall, please check my website. I will have
a copy of the presentation there as well as some links to handouts if you are
Red River Valley Writing Project
2010 for Teachers
June 14--July 9, 2010
The Red River Valley Writing Project (RRVWP)is a site of the National Writing
Project (NWP), a professional development program devoted to teaching writing.
The National Writing Project has been federally funded since 1990. The goal of the
national project is to improve student writing abilities by improving the teaching
and learning of writing in the nation's schools, provide professional development
programs for classroom teachers and expand the professional roles of teachers.
On Teaching Writing.
On Using Writing to Learn.
All Content Areas.
4 grad credits.
Official Summer Institute in Fargo this Summer
Red River Valley Writing Project
Grand Forks Opportunities This Summer
Barry Lane Blitz
July 12-15, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
University of North Dakota, Merrifield Hall, Room 10
Barry Lane, renowned educator and author of books on writing,
including After the End and The Reviser’s Toolbox, offers a
plethora of strategies for educators to help students generate
text, refine ideas, and revise writing effectively. In this class,
teachers will have the opportunity to put themselves in the
writer’s seat and experience firsthand Barry Lane’s strategies for
writing and revision. Join instructors Pam Fisher and Dr. Marci
Glessner as we read, write, and discuss around a variety of
Barry’s most engaging strategies from collaborative poetry to
“roller coaster revision.”
Credit: 1 Continuing Ed credit UND Fee: $50.00
Register online at www.educators.und.edu/summer.
No additional fees or registration required.