Even the “big kids” like a good ol’ read-aloud every once in a while, so you might be surprised to see how engaged (and interested!) your high schoolers become when you use one of these picture books for high school English class this year.
It’s all about mixing things up and keeping things fresh when you’re teaching. So check out a fellow elementary school teacher’s bookshelf (or visit the public library) for these titles.
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Picture books that are great for teaching high schoolers about theme:
A classic tale about treating others the way you want to be treated, this beautifully illustrated story can also be used to talk about character and conflict.
Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting
A homeless boy and his father spend their days and nights in an airport, and the boy feels a deep connection to a small bird trapped inside. Talk about what the bird symbolizes or use this book to talk about theme.
Exclamation Mark by Amy Krause Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld
A quick read featuring personified punctuation marks, this story’s message about learning to be yourself is a memorable read. And because it features the familiar question mark and period, it’s also worth using for a grammar lesson!
Love by Matt de la Peña
Love is so many things to so many different people. This book celebrates love and the way it connects us all.
Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth
Stillwater the panda tells three little children stories that carry some very valuable lessons. The illustrations in this book are incredible, but it’s the message that will leave your students thinking.
Picture books that are great for teaching high schoolers about character and point of view:
Unspoken by Henry Cole
This wordless story about the Underground Railroad powerfully tells of a young girl and a stranger in her family’s barn. You could also use Unspoken as part of a unit on American literature or to talk about point of view.
Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose
A sweet book with a ton rhythm and rhyme, Hey, Little Ant can be used as an introduction to point of view. Or, read this story and compare characters.
Pop’s Bridge by Eve Bunting
Another one by the amazing Eve Bunting, Pop’s Bridge tells the story of two boys whose fathers are both doing the terribly dangerous job of building the Golden Gate Bridge. Use this story to discuss character, theme, or point of view.
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
When Nobel Peace Prize–winner Malala Yousafzai was a child, she wished for a magic pencil. That dream changed as she grew, so did her dreams. This must-read story is perfect for analyzing character or as an introduction to Malala’s autobiography, I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood up for Education and Changed the World.
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein
This story of Philippe Petit, the man who walked between the twin towers, will totally captivate students. Discuss Philippe’s reasons for doing what he did and how he changed and grew as a result.
What other suggestions do you have for using picture books for high school English? We’d love to hear your ideas and what has worked for you! Come and share in our WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.
Plus, check out more of our high school reading lists here.